2024 Big Ten DT Rankings: Michigan’s Domineering Duo Duel for Top Spot

    The 2024 Big Ten DT Rankings showcase the big-bodied playmakers on the defensive line, which is arguably the most talent-packed unit in the conference.

    The sheer amount of talent along the defensive line in the conference is laughable. In the 2024 Big Ten DT Rankings alone, there are at least 10 players who should hear their names called in the 2025 NFL Draft. But who is the best of the best?

    Big Ten 2024 DT Rankings

    10) Jamaree Caldwell, Oregon Ducks

    Jamaree Caldwell transfers in from Houston, where he made a name for himself as an elite run stuffer. Yes, he recorded 6.5 sacks last season (which is a skill in and of itself), but when you watch the tape, Caldwell is more of a pocket pusher than a penetrator.

    Regardless, at 6’1″ and 325 pounds, his natural leverage and wide body make it difficult to move at the point of contact.

    9) Bear Alexander, USC Trojans

    Bear Alexander hasn’t lived up to the expectations he generated coming out of high school, but he is still a solid defender. The 2023 season was his first starting full-time, and he flashed moments of dominance from both the A and B gaps.

    Now under defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn’s guidance, Alexander can hopefully harness his physical tools and become a consistent game-wrecker in 2024.

    8) Ty Hamilton, Ohio State Buckeyes

    The other Ohio State DT after Michael Hall Jr. and Tyleik Williams, Ty Hamilton has been a mainstay on the line since 2021. Like many on the 2024 Big Ten DT Rankings, he isn’t the biggest pass-rush threat, but he has the power to win on push-pull moves.

    Yet, Hamilton makes his biggest impact as a run defender, stacking interior linemen and shedding them once the ball carrier picks his lane.

    7) Aaron Graves, Iowa Hawkeyes

    As a true freshman, Aaron Graves flashed his potential with three sacks and six tackles for loss as a reserve DT. His 2.5 sacks and 4.5 TFLs with nearly double the snaps last year are disappointing in comparison, but QBs knew where he was on the field.

    MORE: 2024 Big Ten Weekly Football Schedule

    He outplayed starter Yahya Black as a pass rusher, getting home at a much higher rate and showcasing his wrestling background in the trenches.

    6) CJ West, Indiana Hoosiers

    Will CJ West ever be an elite sack generator? No, but he doesn’t have to be. He uses all of his 6’2″ and 315-pound frame to fill gaps and force stops near the line of scrimmage. And while he doesn’t get home often, his presence up the middle frees up those around him to get after the QB.

    5) James Carpenter, Indiana Hoosiers

    Following a redshirt season to begin his career, James Carpenter has logged 37 starts in the last four years. He is clearly experienced, but more than that, he is a difference-maker. Since 2022, he has manufactured 20.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, five pass deflections, and even an interception.

    Carpenter has experience at every position along the defensive line, is an iron man who rarely comes off the field, and should have no issue making the jump from the Sun Belt to the Big Ten.

    4) Derrick Harmon, Oregon Ducks

    From one Big Ten team to a new one, Derrick Harmon left Michigan State during their coaching turnover and saddled up with the Ducks. Like West, he isn’t the most disruptive pass rusher, but he stuff runs with ease and isn’t averse to a pressure or two per game.

    Now playing alongside Jordan Burch and Jamaree Caldwell, Harmon could be in for his most productive season yet.

    3) Tyleik Williams, Ohio State Buckeyes

    Tyleik Williams has some eye-popping reps on his film but doesn’t routinely beat the man across from him. If he can keep his motor running and improve his consistency, he could push for the No. 2 spot come the season’s end. Williams’ bull rush can collapse pockets, and he has no issue shedding blocks when he has proper hand placement.

    2) Kenneth Grant, Michigan Wolverines

    At 6’3″ and nearly 340 pounds, Kenneth Grant is a massive man similar to former Texas DT T’Vondre Sweat. Yet, Grant is a more fluid mover and has a more refined pass-rush arsenal. Although, he isn’t one to ignore the fact that he can simply punch centers and guards five yards into the backfield.

    1) Mason Graham, Michigan Wolverines

    Grant certainly takes up space next to Mason Graham, making his life easier. But even when isolating to 1-on-1 reps, Graham is the best returning DT in the entire nation. In fact, he is arguably the best defensive player hitting the field in 2024, right up there with Penn State EDGE Abdul Carter, Tennessee EDGE James Pearce Jr., and Kentucky’s Deone Walker.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Strength of Schedule For All 134 FBS Teams

    Graham’s heavy hands, lateral quickness, and first-step explosion make him a nightmare to handle as a run defender and pass rusher.

    2024 Big Ten DT Rankings | 11-20

    11) Jordan Phillips and Tommy Akingbesote, Maryland
    12) Sebastian Valdez, Washington
    13) Yahya Black, Iowa
    14) Dvon Ellies and Zane Durant, Penn State
    15) Nash Hutmacher and Ty Robinson, Nebraska
    16) Rayshaun Benny, Michigan
    17) Gary Smith III and Keanu Williams, UCLA
    18) Carmine Bastone and Najee Story, Northwestern
    19) James Thompson Jr., Wisconsin
    20) D’Quan Douse, Michigan State

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