This team had to replace all 4 starters on the DL this year. And considering how they were 3rd in the nation with 42 sacks, is pretty impressive. They played a lot of 1st and 2nd year players on the DL.
Consider this: Washington, Spence, Bosa, Carter, Marcus, and Schutt were either backups or still in HS. These guys are still physically growing, maturing, and developing their bodies into the collegiate level.
Bosa was a monster and Vrabel deserves a lot of credit for his development.
Spence is a great pass rusher who played his freshman year at 225. he is still growing and another year in Marotti's program will help him out. He has a lot of potential. Combining his potential, Coach Johnson, Coach Marotti, and still learning the game, he will get better. No doubt he needs to improve against the run but I think he will.
Washington got hurt, outplayed by Bosa, and never really seemed to recover. I think he is better suited to play inside.
As for Bennett, he had a great first half and you are right. Somewhere between Iowa and Purdue is where it tailed off. He needs to finish.
Hale is solid but unspectacular. Schutt missed the first half of the season and idk what to say about him other than he should be developing this spring.
Chris Carter had a good year. He's a big man with space eating ability. Meyer called him out and it appears the light has finally come on for him. He earned some snaps. Conditioning is/was an issue for him but still, he improved.
Marcus is a great player and definitely earned his reps.
It is very hard to get DL to an elite level with young, inexperienced players. Our DL play was not elite, and idk if anyone expected it to be, but it was certainly pretty good. Our run defense ranked 9th in the country. While our pass D was weak, our run D held its own pretty well.
Our DL figures to be 10-13 deep this year. There is talent. I truly expect it to be elite. But the progress that it made was tremendous and it took a big leap. There is a lot here and Coach Johnson has to be very excited when looking at our DL.