Pitt football: Defensive line loaded with NFL talent

Pitt football has one of the best defenses in the country, ranking eighth best in total defense and 31st in scoring defense. The excellent performance of this defense is due in large part to the incredible play of the Panthers’ defensive line. The Pitt front is putting up big-time numbers, ranking first in the nation in tackles for a loss and second in sacks. The spectacular performance of this line is due in large part to two senior defensive ends Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones. Both Weaver and Jones are having phenomenal seasons and are drawing a lot of attention from teams in the NFL.

Weaver missed all of the 2019 season with a torn ACL and has bounced back as one of the best defensive linemen in college football during the 2020 season. He currently has seven and a half sacks, which is tied for eighth in the nation, and three forced fumbles, which is tied for the most in the country. Weaver also has the second most tackles for a loss in college football with an astounding 14. Over the course of the 2020 season, he has proven that he is fully recovered from his injury. He has also shown that he can be the leader of a defense and that he is one of the best defensive linemen that will be entering the 2021 draft.

Mel Kiper Jr. has Weaver ranked as the fifth-best defensive end in the 2021 draft. He is currently looked at as a likely Day 2 pick in the draft.

Jones has used the 2020 season to prove that he is the real deal and that his 2019 season was not a fluke. He has put up nine sacks so far this season, which is tied for second in the nation. Jones has also racked up 12 tackles for a loss, good for the seventh most in college football. His performance this season has shown that he is one of the best pass rushers in the nation and that he is ready to make the jump to the NFL.

Jones is ranked as the fourth best end on Kiper’s Big Board, one spot ahead of Weaver. Jones is regarded as an early Day 2 pick right now, but he has the possibility to jump into the first round if he tests well at the combine and finishes out the season strong.

These two players have anchored the Pitt defensive line throughout the 2020 season and have put up the numbers to prove they are two of the best in the country. Come April these two men will be hearing their names called at the NFL Draft, and they likely will be hearing it rather early. They will have the opportunity to take their talents to the professional level and lead a defensive line in the NFL in 2021. Jones and Weaver will be hoping to join the likes of Aaron Donald and Jabaal Sheard, as former Panthers defensive linemen that went on to perform well in the NFL.

Photo by Sarah Cutshall | The Pitt News