Though the Big 10 has been on a downward trend in terms of producing quality football, the conference has still been able to produce high quality talent for the draft. This passed draft, they had multiple players go in the Top 50 and this year’s crop has a similar level of overall talent on both offense and defense.
Braxton Miller (OSU): The lightening rod behind the Buckeyes’ top-notch offense, the national media is often too quick to look at the undersized (6-2, 212) and ludicrously fast QB and write him off as a running back. That is an incredibly lazy assessment of his ability though for he has a very impressive blend of arm strength and accuracy. He displays good feet in the pocket and when his mechanics are sound, he is a good passer who just may need to clean up his decision maker. He made huge strides from his sophomore to his junior year, so if he continues to progress, he could find himself in Top 50 discussion.
Second Team: Connor Cook (MSU)
Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin): One of the most efficient running backs in the country this past year, Gordon enters his junior season with legitimate first round hype. He has good size (6-1, 207) and flashes strength as a runner, but where he wins is with his tremendous movement skills. Gordon has acceleration like few players in the country and he is a very smooth runner with good change of direction ability. He was used a bit unorthodoxly last year, so he needs to show he can follow his blocks and play on passing downs. He has immense physical skills and if he can win in a more traditional fashion this year, he could go on the first day of the draft.
Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska): At 5-9 and 190 pounds, nobody is going to confuse Abdullah with a guy like Maurice Jones Drew who has almost 20 pounds on him… Until Abdullah puts the pads on. Abdullah has fantastic vision, acceleration and lower body strength. He changes direction very naturally and is a very hard runner, which I love. Even better, he is a talented receiver with ability to pass protect. He is a perfect back for today’s NFL.
Second Team: Jeremy Langford (MSU), Venric Mark (Northwestern)
Devin Funchess (Michigan): Possibly one of the biggest freaks in this upcoming class, the former tight end has the potential to be the first receiver taken in next year’s draft. He has and imposing frame (6-5, 235) and yet has better movement skills than most receivers in the country. He is an incredible athlete who can dominate from all over the field and has potential to be fantastic player if he can clean up his horrible hands. He leaves much to be desired as a blocker, so I expect he stays at receiver, but he has an incredibly high ceiling.
Stephon Diggs (Maryland): One of the most electric playmakers in the country, Diggs has fantastic long speed and can change direction on a dime. He is very exciting with the ball in his hands, but he lacks ideal size (6-0, 195), doesn’t play very physically and needs to clean up his route running. He has fantastic athletic tools, but has much to improve on as a football player. It should also be noted that he suffered a knee injury that ended his sophomore season that could affect his play this upcoming season.
Second Team: Kenny Bell (Nebraska) , Deon Long (Maryland)
Jesse James (PSU): Six foot seven. Let us say that again: Six. Foot. Seven. James is a gigantic target and yet can move very well for a man his size and has a strong build at 254 pounds. James is a very strong blocker, but teams are going to love the size and strength that he brings to the passing game. He is going to be a very good NFL player.
Second Team: Tyler Kroft (Rutgers)
Brandon Scherff (Iowa): One of the biggest names heading into this draft season, Scherff is a very talented offensive lineman who has been in the discussion for the top tackle in this upcoming class. He has overwhelming functional strength and a mean streak that he uses to bully defenders into submission which helps him in the passing and running game. I worry about his length and lateral agility and think he may best be suited to play guard in the NFL, but he is a very good football player regardless.
Rob Havenstein(Wisconsin): A humongous presence on the offensive line (6-8, 333), Havenstein has very long arms and heavy hands that help him keep defenders at bay. He needs to improve his pad level which is difficult at his height and he is not the most balanced player, but he has good presence as a pass blocker and can come downhill in the run game.
Second Team: Donovan Smith (PSU), Andrew Donnal (Iowa)
Kaleb Johnson (Rutgers): Johnson has good size (6-4, 305) and has good physical tools. He moves his feet well and flashes decent strength, but he has issues with using his hands properly and giving up too much space with his body. This is a weak guard crop, but Johnson has good physical tools that he can hone into helping him become a draftable player.
Jake Cotton (Nebraska): A long armed, mammoth of a player (6-6, 305), Cotton plays with heavy hands and an aggressive playing style. He is not a very gifted player in terms of movement skills, but he has the size, strength and tenacity to get NFL looks.
Second Team: Ryne Reeves (Nebraska), Andrew Zeller (Maryland)
Brandon Vitabile (Northwestern): At 6-3, 300 pounds, Vitabile is not the most imposingly sized player, but he is a very smart, quick and hard playing center. He shows quick feet in the passing and running game and has decent functional strength to pair with his attitude on the field. He is a fun center to watch and one who should get NFL looks.
Second Team: Betim Bujari (Rutgers)
Interior Defensive Line
Carl Davis (Iowa): A mountain of a man (6-4, 315), Davis has excellent strength and a motor that he uses to push around offensive linemen and anchor against the run. He has the potential to be a better pass rusher, but he needs to use leverage better to shed, but he has the size and impacting strength to be a high level starter in the NFL.
Michael Bennett (OSU): Bennett may be viewed as undersized for a defensive lineman (6-2, 288) but he has tremendous physical tools that help him overcome his stature. He has very good quickness and anticipation off the line and uses his hands well to shed. Against the run, he has strong hands, but doesn’t have a superb anchor and bigger offensive linemen can push him around. He can win from multiple spots on the line though and I expect him to be a big time contributor in the NFL.
Second Team: Darius Kilgo (Maryland), Jihad Ward (Illinois)
Noah Spence (OSU): Spence is a very athletic edge defender with decent size (6-3, 252) and incredible burst off the line. He uses his hands well when rushing the pass, bends the edge well and can convert speed to power to push the offensive lineman back. He leaves some to be desired against the rush with a poor anchor. He may be best suited to play standing upright but I think he can be a good edge player in the NFL.
Shiquile Calhoun (MSU): Calhoun is a very athletic pass rusher with great size (6-4, 257), burst and flashes of impressive strength. Calhoun’s fundamentals are a mess as he doesn’t use his hands well, doesn’t have very good instincts, and has inconsistent pad level. The sky is the limit for Calhoun, but he needs to make serious fundamental strides this season.
Second Team: Randy Gregory (Nebraska), Aldolphus Washington (OSU)
Chi Chi Ariguzo (Northwestern): Ariguzo is a smart player who moves well in coverage and displays good range. He is smart coming downhill, but too often gets pushed around due to a lack of strength. He should be a contributor in the NFL with his field IQ and range.
Jake Ryan (Michigan): Ryan has very good size (6-3, 236) and makes his presence felt against the run. He is an incredibly bright player who is fearless taking on blocks and making plays downhill. He is smart enough to hold in coverage, but his bellow average athletic ability will likely hurt him in the NFL. He is also coming off a bad knee injury, so that ma further hurt his mediocre movement skills. If he can fully recover, he could make an impact in the NFL as a good, two down run stopper.
Taiwan Jones (MSU): At 6-2, 250 pounds, Jones is a large piece of the Michigan defensive front. He is an instinctive and high motor player who flies around the field and makes plays against the run. He has heavy feet in coverage who can get eaten up, so he will need to be protected in the NFL.
Second Team: Desmond Morgan (Michigan), Damien Wilson (Minnesota), Matt Robinson (Maryland)
Trae Waynes (MSU): At 6-1, 185, Waynes has the ideal frame of today’s NFL cornerback but he needs to add weight to avoid getting pushed around by bigger receivers and in the run game. In coverage, he is a very aggressive player who does a great job of putting himself in position to make a play on the ball and he has fantastic closing speed. If he add some weight and maybe tone down his overly aggressive play, he could be in first round consideration in a years time.
Doran Grant (OSU): Grant has decent size (5-11, 193) and is a fantastic athlete. He brings it as a tackler and flashes very good ability in coverage. He needs to be a little more aware while the ball is in the air, but he has the athletic potential to be a good NFL corner.
Second Team: Blake Countess (Michigan), Sojourn Shelton (Wisconsin)
Kurtis Drummond (MSU): Drummond has a big frame (6-1, 200) but lacks ideal weight at the safety position. He is tremendous in coverage as he can assess a play very quickly and attack it’s direction. He is not very athletic, but wins with great football smarts. He does a very good job of making plays on the ball and is a smart player against the run. He needs to clean up his tackling, but Drummond has a very bright future as he is a smart player.
Adrian Amos (PSU): Amos has gotten experience at cornerback and safety and has shown he can play both well. At safety, he is a physical presence who is not afraid to intimidate as a tackler. He does a good job of diagnosing and his athletic ability allows him to close on the play very quickly. In coverage he has the speed and quickness to move with most receivers, but needs to show better awareness with the ball in the air. With a full season at safety, it will be easier to see how Amos translates, but he has a good skill set that can work at the next level.
Second Team: Mark Murphy (Indiana), Zane Petty (Illinois)
Tags: Illinois Fighting Illini Football Indiana Hoosiers Football Iowa Hawkeyes Football Maryland Terrapins Football Michigan State Spartans Football Michigan Wolverines Football Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Nebraska Cornhuskers Football NFL Draft Northwestern Wildcats Football Ohio State Buckeyes Football Penn State Nittany Lions Football Purdue Boilermakers Football Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football Wisconsin Badgers Football