A few teams could lay claim to the title “DBU,” and Ohio State has as strong a case as anyone. Safety Jordan Fuller is the only 100-rated player currently in the Buckeyes secondary, though every projected starter has a VGR+ rating of at least 91.5, and the list of players with an 80 or better is 14 deep.
Freshman Mike Rose posted outstanding production numbers in 2018, but Marcel Spears is still the highest rated linebacker on the Iowa State football roster. Spears tallied 69 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 8.5 run stuffs in an all-around solid season for the top scoring defense in the Big 12.
Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham, Jr. was one of the most active defensive backs in the country in 2018. Graham ranked second in the Pac-12 and fourth nationally with both 18 pass breakups and 21 passes defended, thanks to his three interceptions. Along with fellow 100-rated defensive back Deommodore Lenoir and a pair of linebackers who have reached the max rating also, the Ducks could have one of the most talented, improved units in the Pac-12.
Though Pitt lost a ton of rushing production, there is hope the reigning ACC Coastal champions can lean on an improving defense to make another run at the division title. Free safety Damar Hamlin, who led the team with 90 tackles, and also picked off two passes, is one of the best in the nation at his position.
The Wyoming Cowboys ranked in the top 20 in total defense (326.2 yards allowed per game) in 2018, and with highly productive inside linebacker Logan Wilson back for his senior season, the unit could be just as good or better this year. Wilson has made 39 career starts and has racked up 30 Production Points to date – more than all but five FBS players.
New Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman inherited one of the most productive under-the-radar players in the Big 12 in defense end Reggie Walker. Walker led the Wildcats in sacks (7.5), tackles for loss (12.5), run stuffs (16.5) and forced fumbles (4) last season, and could become a household name with a similar season in 2019.
Defensive end Mustafa Johnson (97.47), who ranks second nationally with an average of 1.5 Production Points per game in his young FBS career, barely missed out on our list. However, linebacker Nate Landman, who led the Buffs with 15 PPs last year while racking up 105 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 24.5 run stuffs, four sacks, two picks and two forced fumbles, did.
Offensive stars made the headlines in 2018, but the Iowa State defense was a major reason why the Cyclones won eight games for a second consecutive year. Defensive end JaQuan Bailey led the team with eight sacks (and he needs one more to tie the school record) and 14.5 tackles for loss.
One of the most underrated players on one of the most underrated teams in college football in 2018, Northwestern defensive lineman Joe Gaziano racked up seven sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and 15 run stuffs to lead the Wildcats.
In just two seasons, Boise State pass rusher Curtis Weaver has amassed 26 career Production Points, which is tied for first among all active FBS defensive linemen and eighth most among all FBS players. Weaver has led the Broncos in sacks in each of the last two seasons. He sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times as a freshman in 2017 and followed with 9.5 last year.