2021 Cincinnati Bearcats Depth Chart Down Low – Defensive Line

Expectations are through the roof this season for the Bearcats as they return their deepest and most talented roster, probably of all time. In this multi-part series, I’ll examine each of the position groups, expectations, potential break out stars, and weaknesses. This article we will examine the defensive line, featuring future NFL Draft Pick Myjai Sanders

A former Ohio State Defensive Linemen once famously declared that “Cincinnati is going to be a line driven program.” That of course, would be Bearcats Head Coach Luke Fickell. The Bearcats have had some luck on the Offensive Line, but their biggest success has been on the Defensive Line, coached by former St. X High School Marching Band memeber Greg Scruggs. Coach Scruggs played one season at St. X before going onto that “University” down river and made his way to the NFL earning a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks. Coach Scruggs started his career as a Director of Player Personnel before being convinced to coach the Defensive Line in 2020 and it’s paid dividends. Scruggs and Defensive Coordinator Mike Tressel are likely to deploy multiple defensive fronts this season and the DL room is stacked with talent to be effective in multiple alignments. As was a theme with the rest of the team, the Bearcats were due to lose a few guys to graduation last season, but return the entire position, aside from Elijah Ponder who was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The biggest returning piece is Defensive End Myjai Sanders.  Sanders returns to the Bearcats as a Preseason All American,  with 7 total sacks last season and 5 passes defensed.  Sanders is a speed rusher who has been wreaking havoc on the opposing teams Offensive Linemen for the past 2 seasons.  Sanders is poised for a big year and judging by his workout posts from Strength and Conditioning Coach Brady Collins, he’s trying to bulk up, like Sauce Gardner, to increase his chances of getting picked in the first two days of the NFL Draft

Opposite Myjai is Hometown Hero Malik Vann.  Vann brings 5.5 sacks along with 12.5 tackles for loss back to the Bearcats.  Vann excels at stopping the run behind the line of scrimmage and provides balance to his opposite running mate Sanders. Vann is a heavier, stronger player, who uses his power instead of his speed to win against his opponent.

Behind Sanders and Vann is a guy who I think is going to bring a lot of impact as well as line up all over the line, University of Virginia transfer Jowon Briggs.  Briggs was the biggest stand out to me at the Spring Game.  Briggs is a massive human being and the speed he has is a freakish combination that is going to be tough for opposing offenses to slow down.  I look for Briggs to play at Defensive Tackle as well as Defensive End.

The Defensive Tackle Position is also stacked, with Jabari Taylor, Curtis Brooks, and Marcus Brown returning for their graduate years.  These three guys line up inside and outside on the defensive line and rotate heavily, keeping fresh legs and wearing down the opposing teams Offensive Line.  The trio of Taylor, Brooks, and Brown return 11 Tackles for Loss and 5.5 Sacks.

Vann, Sanders, Briggs, Taylor, Brooks, and Brown look to be the 3 or 4 guys we see lined up the most on the line this upcoming season and behind them are a bunch of guys who haven’t had the opportunity to get on the field with potentially 6 NFL players ahead of them.  The next man up behind that group will be Justin Wodtly.  He’s poised for a breakout this year.  It’s going to be a rough year for our opponents Offensive Linemen.

Juncta Juvant

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