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Big Ten Players to Know for the Draft: Part Two

Posted by Jordan Finley on May 18, 2011 – 4:40 pm in: 2012, NFL Draft

All of the teams from the Big Ten, from a consensus standpoint, were aligned equally with the conference powerhouses not being one sided.  Like any other college football conference, the first place teams from each division will face each other in a Big Ten Championship which will occur in Indianapolis, home of the NCAA Headquarters.   Let’s take a look at the comparison of teams real quick.
Legends Division– Nebraska- Michigan Michigan State- Minnesota- Iowa- Northwestern

Leaders Division– Ohio State Wisconsin- Indiana- Illinois- Purdue- Penn State
My pre-season pick for the Big Ten Champion isMichigan State and I won’t think twice about that decision.  They simply have so much talent on both sides of the ball and depth where they need it.  Who will they beat?  I’m going with a sleeper there and taking Joe Pa and the Nittany Lions.   There are also reports of rivalry games starting this year including Nebraska/Wisconsin and Penn State/Iowa.  Speaking of the games, let’s take a look at some of the more notable ones between conference members during the first year of the new alignment.

Week 5 (October 1st, 2011)

– Nebraska at Wisconsin

– Michigan State at Ohio State

Week 6 (October 8th, 2011)

– Ohio State at Nebraska

Week 8 (October 22nd, 2011)

Wisconsin at Michigan State

Week 9 (October 29th, 2011)

– Michigan State at Nebraska

Week 10 (November 5th, 2011)

– Michigan at Iowa

Week 11 (November 12th, 2011)

– Michigan State at Iowa

– Nebraska at Penn State

Week 12 (November 19th, 2011)

– Nebraska at Michigan

– Penn State at Ohio State

Week 13 (November 26th, 2011)

Ohio State at Michigan

– Iowa at Nebraska

– Penn State at Wisconsin

The most pivotal game looks to be in Week 9 when the Spartans collide with Nebraska, the two teams most people expect to contend for the top spot in the division.  The winner of this match-up will most likely play in the championship game in Indianapolis.  Another one to look out for is in the final week when Penn State travels to Madison to take on the Badgers.  This Leaders match-up could also dictate who will play in the championship game as well.

Today we’ll be looking at the best players from the Leaders division, which includes the Ohio State Buckeyes, Illinios Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Wisconsin Badgers and finally, the Purdue Boilermakers.  Just like last time, I’ll simply name each team  followed by the best offensive and defensive players from that respective team.  Also, to keep things somewhat regional, I’ll go over the Cincinnati Bearcats as well as the West Virginia Mountaineers.  So let’s get things started in Columbus where the Buckeyes have had at least a share of the last six Big Ten championships.

–          Ohio State Buckeyes

Even this early, it seems as if Mike Brewster will go in the earlier rounds next April.


Best Offensive Player: Mike Brewster // Center// Senior – – Thanks to the sanctions that surround the program at the moment it’s going to be very hard for Brewster to get any good publicity.  However, he is widely considered as one of the best interior lineman in the nation.  He’s a superior pass blocker, tremendously aware and has been starting since he stepped foot in Columbus.  He has early round pick written all over him.  Projection: Mid 1st/Mid 2nd Round

Best Defensive Player: John Simon // Defensive Tackle // Junior – – The team’s tradition of developing stud defensive lineman continues with Simon who is still a mere junior.  With a stud season, Simon could hear his name called in the early rounds next April.  His ultra athleticism and lateral mobility along the line of scrimmage makes him very intriguing.  Also, mix that in with the fact that he could be the strongest player in the Big Ten and you have a potential first round pick.  However, the odds of him declaring are still small.  Projection: Mid 2nd/Early 3rd Round

Other Notable Players: QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron, TE Jake Stoneburner, OT Mike Adams, DE Nathan Williams, S Orhian Johnson

–          Illinois Fighting Illini

Best Offensive Player: Jeff Allen // Offensive Tackle // Senior – – Jeremy Osborne, a fellow writer on the site first claimed that Allen is a player to watch out for to possibly shoot up draft boards and I have to agree.  The Chicago native has excellent size, long arms and decent mobility.  His technique needs polish though and he won’t be able to rely on his athleticism as much as other premier lineman but he’s a serious player to watch.  Projection: 3rd/4th Round

Best Defensive Player: Tavon Wilson // Safety // Senior – – The Illini don’t offer the best defensive talent this year.  Of course, this is coming off a strong year in 2011 in which they saw players like Corey Liuget and Martez Wilson come off the board within the first three rounds.  Wilson is a definite project player who has some consistency issues but shows good range and physical traits about his game.  Projection: Late round pick/Undrafted

Other Notable Players: RB Jason Ford

–          Indiana Hoosiers

Best Offensive Player: Damarlo Belcher // Wide Receiver // Senior – – Last season the Hoosiers offered one of the more underrated players in the draft in receiver Tandon Doss.  This year it could be the same exact story with Damarlo Belcher.  Now, he doesn’t have the same production or natural skills that Doss left Bloomington with but he’s the exact same kind of receiver: a big possession guy who lacks elite athleticism but is a serious red zone threat.  Projection: Late round pick/Undrafted

Best Defensive Player: Jeff Thomas // Inside Linebacker // Senior – – Like Illinois, the Hoosiers aren’t offering a lot of defensive talent in 2012.  They have a lot of depth but not a player that stands out above the rest.  Thomas came on strong during his junior season and proved some versatility but he doesn’t have the athleticism or natural abilities to be an early round pick next April.  Projection: Late round pick/Undrafted

Other Notable Players: DE Fred Jones, DL Larry Black Jr.

–          Penn State Nittany Lions

Best Offensive Player: Derek Moye // Wide Receiver // Senior – – Joe Pa hasn’t put a lot of offensive talent to the NFL lately and it is no different this upcoming season.  Moye has excellent height and speed for a kid his size but lacks good elusiveness, route running ability and simply needs to bulk up.  From this point in the process, he’ll most likely be drafted but probably on the third day.  Projection: Early 6th/7th Round

Best Defensive Player: D’Anton Lynn // Cornerback // Senior – – This is actually a tough pick between underclassman Gerald Hodges and Lynn but the defensive back is a player that I am very intrigued with going into the 2011 college season.  He has an unreal size and speed combination for a cornerback.  He may turn out to be a safety at the next level but he’s surely going to be drafted for his natural abilities.  Projection: 4th/5th Round

Other Notable Players: RB Stephfon Green, DE Jack Crawford, DE Pete Massaro, DL Devon Still, DL Eric Latimore, LB Gerald Hodges, LB Nathan Stupar

–          Wisconsin Badgers

Aside from having an amazing name, Nick Toon will also be at least a 3rd round pick next year.


Best Offensive Player: Nick Toon // Wide Receiver // Senior – – Another tough pick here and it was a literal tossup between three players: Toon and a pair of underclassmen in Peter Konz and Montee Ball.  If Konz declares, he could go pretty early as well as Ball.  However, Toon is a vastly underrated player with excellent body control, hops and red zone abilities.  Projection: 3rd Round

Best Defensive Player: Aaron Henry // Strong Safety // Senior – – Henry isn’t the best athlete on the field but he always seems to be around the ball.  He’s most likely a rotational or special teams guy at the next level but he is bound to contribute one way or the other.  Projection: Mid 5th/Early 7th Round

Other Notable Players: RB Montee Ball, C Peter Konz, DE Louis Nzegwu

–          Purdue Boilermakers

Best Offensive Player: Ken Plue // Offensive Guard // Senior – – Plue is a monster of a kid that is listed at a whopping 6’7” 330 pounds as an interior lineman.  He’s not a great athlete but he is a decent run blocker that will most likely make a team as a back-up.  Projection: Late Round pick/Undrafted

Best Defensive Player: Kawann Short // Defensive Tackle // Junior – – Short is one of the few bright spots on a lackluster Boilermaker team.  His sophomore season wasn’t nearly as good as his Freshman All-American season but he was the one threat on that defense to focus on, so he faced a ton of double teams.  If Short declares, he’ll go fairly early.  Projection: 2nd/3rd Round

Other Notable Players: RB Ralph Bolden, CB Josh Johnson


–          West Virginia Mountaineers

Best Offensive Player: Geno Smith // Quarterback // Junior – – If you’re looking for a sleeper candidate for the Heisman trophy, it’s got to be this Mountaineer.  At this point in his career, he’s a more pro ready quarterback than Pat White and that’s really saying something.  An excellent athlete with a cannon arm and developing accuracy, Smith has the potential to ultimately go in the 1st round whenever he decides to enter the NFL.  Projection: Early 2nd/Early 3rd Round

Best Defensive Player: Bruce Irvin // Outside Linebacker // Senior – – There’s only one word to describe Irvin: enigma.  During his juniro season he only notched up 22 total tackles in his rotational role with the team but 14 of those tackles were sacks!  With those numbers he’s bound to grab some attention but he needs to prove that those numbers are for real.  If he can do so, then the sky’s the limit for Irvin.  Projection: Late 2nd/Mid 3rd Round Pick.

Other Notable Players: WR Brad Starks, OL Don Barclay, DE Julian Miller

–          Cincinnati Bearcats

Best Offensive Player: Isaiah Pead // Running Back // Senior – – An absolute lightning bolt with the ball in his hands, Pead’s speed alone will get him drafted early.  He’s a definite candidate to be one of the, if not the fastest player at the NFL Combine in February.  The Columbus native has rotational guy written all over him and a very good one at that.  Projection: Early 3rd/Mid 4th Round.

Best Defensive Player: Derek Wolfe // Defensive Tackle // Senior – – Wolfe didn’t really build upon his  stock after his stud sophomore season but at the same time he didn’t hurt it.  He offers tremendous versatility due to his massive size and has proven he can play either outside or inside at the line of scrimmage.  Projection: Late 4th/Late 5th Round.

Other Notable Players: QB Zach Collaros, WR D.J. Woods, OL Alex Hoffman, LB J.K. Schaffer, S Drew Frey

This is going to be a stellar season for Big Ten football simply because Nebraska left the Big 12.  The fact that the conference now has a championship game to go along with another Top 25 team in the nation is a success on so many levels.  From a draft standpoint, the conference still falls behind others like the SEC and Big 12 and that’ s nothing new.  The midwest usually falls in line around third or fourth when it comes to talent as does the West Coast.  They certainly lack the depth but they offer stud players like Jerel Worthy, Mike Brewster and Kirk Cousins who all are serious contenders to go in the 1st round.  It’s going to be very interesting to watch how the new conference affects the draft stocks of all these players because it certianly will in some shape or form.

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