NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
After previewing the MAC last week, we turn our attention to the Big Ten Conference which produces some of the top talent for the NFL Draft year in and year out.
Last year was a down year in terms of draftable talent at schools such as Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State, but that will change this year as all three school boast 1st round caliber talents.
Here are the top Senior Prospects in the Big Ten.
*The order prospects are listed aren’t necessarily indicative of how we rank the prospects at NEPatriotsdraft.com*
1) Denard Robinson, WR/RB – Michigan has a bunch of mid-round Senior prospects and Robinson is one of them. Robinson will NOT be a QB at the next level, he simply does not have the accuracy or throwing mechanics to make it as a QB. What he does have is elite athleticism and speed. He will likely be looked at as a WR and gadget player by NFL personnel.
2) Kenny Demens, ILB – Demens is one of the best ILB in the country. A starter since his sophomore season, Demens is a big season why the Michigan defense began to turn things around. If Demens height of 6’1″ is legit he should be a mid round pick in the NFL Draft.
3) Jordan Kovacs, SS – A former walk-on who has turned into a play maker and leader of the Michigan defense. Kovacs impacts the game all over the field. From recording four sacks last season, to tallying 115 tackles as a sophomore and intercepting passes. He is a well rounded safety prospect for the next level.
4) Craig Roh, DE – Roh is currently rated by numerous draft outlets as one of the top 10 DE prospects for next years draft. I believe that Roh needs to be more consistent and show more as a pass rusher. There is no denying that Roh has the size (6’5″ 270) to play multiple positions in multiple schemes in the NFL. This is a big year for Roh, who has to improve on his modest pass rush stats.
5) Roy Roundtree, WR – Big things were expected out of Roundtree last season after his break out 2010 performance, but he took a big step back last season only catching 19 balls. Roundtree is still an NFL prospect because of his speed and big play ability.
1) John Simon, DE – Simon is a blue collar defensive lineman. He is a tireless worker and wins with strength, determination and power. Simon isn’t the most gifted player but, he will out work anyone. He has improved his sack numbers each season, recording seven solo sacks last year. Simon is a safe player and will be in that 2nd-3rd round mix next April.
2) Jake Stoneburner, TE – Stoneburner is one of the top tight ends in the country and a typical Ohio State TE, 6’5″ 250 pounds and not real fleet afoot. Stoneburner presents a big target and a nice red-zone threat. Stoneburner ran into some legal trouble this off-season (public urination) and as of right now is off scholarship, but everyone expects him to be back on by the end of summer.
3) Nathan Williams, OLB – Williams is a talented DE/OLB who profiles best as a 3-4 OLB at the next level. Williams missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury, so he will have to overcome some injury concerns. Williams is another player who is somewhat limited athletically but, wins with effort, motor and determination.
4) Reid Fragel, OT – Fragle is a former tight end who was moved to OT and has turned himself into a legitimate NFL prospect. The 6’8″ 300 pound right tackle will definitely garner interest around the league due to his size and athleticism for the position.
5) Orhian Johnson, SS – Johnson is a big, long and rangy safety who has started to make a legitimate impact. Johnson has overcome injuries and a slow developmental curve to become one of the leaders of the Buckeyes defensive backfield.
1) Johnny Adams, CB – Johnny Adams is one of the top NFL prospects in the Big Ten and one of the top returning corner backs in college football. Adams is a fierce and feisty CB who has become the vocal and emotional leader of the Spartan defense. Adams is a good zone corner back, he can break on the throw as good as anyone. What separates Adams from other corners is his ability to impact the run game and his willingness to hit and blitz. He is a true all around CB. Adams would be wise to add some muscle to his slight frame. He will be in the first round mix next April.
2) Chris McDonald, OG – McDonald has been a stalwart on the Michigan State the past two seasons, starting every single game and playing more snaps than any other offensive lineman. McDonald has only surrendered one sack since becoming a full time starter.
3) Anthony Rashad White, NT – White has big shoes to fill, taking over for second round pick Jerel Worthy. While he will line up at multiple positions along the DL he projects to NT in the NFL. At 6’2″ 320 pounds White showcases good mobility and movement skills for someone of his size.
1) Ricky Wagner, OT – Perhaps the best Senior offensive tackle in the country and perhaps the next in a long line of Outland Trophy winners from Wisconsin. Wagner is your typical Wisconsin offensive line prospect, smart, fundamentally sound, strong and fiery. Wagner is a good all-around tackle who has experience playing on both sides of the line. Wagner is a likely 1st round pick next April.
2) Montee Ball, RB – Ball surprised almost everyone when he elected to return to school for his senior season. Ball is coming off one of the greatest seasons in college football history by a running back and it will be tough to repeat those numbers. As a pro-prospect people are split on Ball. Some scouts really like Ball’s balance, vision and ability to get the tough yards, while others question his speed and if he is a product of the Wisconsin system. Either way I think Ball made a mistake returning to school, because the 2013 draft projects to be much deeper at the running back position.
3) Mike Taylor, OLB – Taylor is the heart and soul of the Badgers defense and is just a “football player”. Taylor has a tremendous football IQ and a nose for the ball. He is consistently in the right place and knows how to finish. Coming off a monster Junior season which saw him total 150 tackles, 9.0 TFL, 2 INTs, 2 FF and 2 FR, he is considered one of the favorites for Big Ten defensive player of the year. As a prospect Taylor is a little undersized and is not great athletically, but someone will love his intangibles and ability to just make plays.
1) Gerald Hodges, OLB – Hodges is the next big time LB prospect to come out of “Linebacker U”. Hodges began his career as a safety but, was moved to OLB early in his career. Hodges broke his leg during his Sophomore season which further set him back, but he finally broke out as a junior. Hodges is a play making OLB who will likely play the “Will” in the NFL due to his speed and ability to fly around the field. After compiling 96 tackles, 10.0 TFL and 4.5 sacks as a junior Hodges is poised for a monster season. As of right now I would project Hodges as a 2nd-3rd round prospect.
2) Michael Mauti, ILB – Mauti is a talented middle linebacking prospect following in the foot steps of Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor and Sean Lee. Mauti like the players before him is a smart, physical and hardworking linebacker. The big concern with Mauti is injuries. He has torn his ACL two times and will have to prove he is healthy and that he can stay healthy.
3) Jordan Hill, DT – Hill is an undersized and hardworking DT who has played next to Devon Still the past two seasons and has been productive. Hill is listed at 6’1″, but I have a hunch he is closer to 6’0″. Hill was able to make 48 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season, it will be interesting to see how Hill produced when he is getting the majority of the focus and double teams.
1) Keenan Davis, WR - Davis is a big and athletically gifted WR who finally gets to step out of the shadow of Marvin McNutt. Davis needs to become more consistant and prove that he can be the “go to guy”. If he can do that the sky is the limit and he could be a legitmate first three round wide receiving prospect.
2) Micah Hyde, CB – Hyde is a big and versatile defensive back. Hyde has experience playing both CB and FS. Like many Iowa defensive backs Hyde isn’t overly flashy, he’s just solid. There are concerns about his straight line speed and recovery ability, but his instincts and positioning make up for that at the college level.
3) James Vandenberg, QB – Vandenberg is coming off a very solid season, which was his first as a starter. Vandenberg exhibited solid decision making skills completing 59% of his passes and an impressive 25 touchdown to 7 INT ratio. Although his arm strength is just average, it has gotten better since his freshman season.
4) James Ferentz, OC – Ferentz who is the son of Head Coach Kirk Ferentz is everything you would expect of a coaches son. He is a smart and technical player who won’t be outworked. The big knock on Ferentz is his size which is something he might not be able to overcome.