We've now finished the offensive All-Decade Team. It's now time to move on to defense. Today we're talking defensive line. I'm going to have to keep this post fairly short tonight due to being very busy at the moment.
Despite having a reputation for being a team that is easy to run on, Carolina has had a few excellent defensive linemen over the past ten years. Some of the more memorable ones are DT Langston Moore, DE George Gause, DT Nathan Pepper, DE Caspar Brinkley, DE Cliff Matthews, DT Ladi Ajiboye, DE Devin Taylor, and DT Travian Robertson. I should not that I'm considering Eric Norwood a linebacker for purposes of this series. Norwood made a big impact at DE in 2006-2007, but he made his biggest impact in 2008-2009 as a linebacker. I'm also leaving John Abraham off because I'm only going back to 2001. Abraham graduated in 2000.
For my picks, I'm going with Moore and Ajiboye at tackle, with Matthews and Taylor at end.
One notable narrative for Carolina coming into 2011 is the improvement of the defensive line, particularly between the tackles. I'm a firm believer in the idea that having a strong defensive line is oftentimes what sets the men apart from the boys in college football. There are plenty of great DBs to be had, but there are only a few great linemen, and the teams that manage to recruit and groom those lineman reap the benefits. Think about the great Florida, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn teams over the past few years and what set their defenses apart. Carolina saw this play out last year, when it had a great year in sacks and run defense. If the DL maintains that kind of performance and the secondary steps up, as well, the sky is the limit for the Carolina D this year.