Michigan State Football: Dissecting the 2015 depth chart

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Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) is sacked by Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Joel Heath (92) and defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) during the second half in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Bears 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

On to the deepest part of the list so far. Sure, the offensive line is probably more loaded than any other unit on that side of the ball, but the d-line is the real moneymaker for the top-10 defensive team in the country.

Must Read: MSU Recruiting: Top remaining 2016 football targets

You look at the guys coming back from last year’s squad, minus Marcus Rush, and there are two guys who could legitimately start for any team in the conference and another that will likely be in that same discussion a year from now.

Shilique Calhoun is the top returning starter on the line as the defensive end is projected as a top-two round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Many believe he has the talent and potential to be drafted on the first day, but he needs a strong showing this year for that to happen. Right behind him is exciting redshirt freshman Montez Sweat. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound underclassman has the visuals of a younger Calhoun with the same upside.

Nov 2, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Joel Heath (92) reacts to a play during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 29-6. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The other defensive end position has been filled by former linebacker-turned-fullback-turned-tackle-turned-end Lawrence Thomas. The hard-hitting senior is looking to break out this season and I don’t see any reason as to why he won’t. He is backed up by another promising sophomore Demetrius Cooper and junior Evan Jones. Depth is key.

Defensive tackle starters have been named and they happen to be none other than budding star Malik McDowell and reliable senior Joel Heath.

McDowell is backed up by two promising redshirt freshmen, Enoch Smith Jr. and Craig Evans. Both of those guys could become starters by this time next year. Heath’s backups are senior Damon Knox and former running back/fullback Gerald Owens — quite surprising to see him there.

This unit is going to be very good for a long time.

Next: Linebackers