1) Rex Burkhead, RB – Burkhead has emerged as one of the top running backs in college football and an NFL prospect. Burkhead is a workhorse type back who had no problem carrying the struggling Nebraska offense at times last season. The real question surrounding Burkhead will be just how fast he is and it will likely determine just what kind of prospect he really is.
2) Baker Steinkuhler, DT – I might be a little bit higher on Steinkuhler than others, because I think he is a prototypical 3-4 DE at the next level. At 6’6″ 290 he has the size that is rare for the position. Steinkuhler is a legacy at the University of Nebraska and while he isn’t flashy and you might not notice him a whole lot, he is just solid and steady. He won’t provide much of a pass rush, but he will get looks from 3-4 NFL teams.
3) Cameron Meredith, DE – Meredith is a versatile and dependable DE prospect. He has started 27 straight games and has played both 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker in specific defensive sets. With Lavonte David gone to the NFL look for Meredith to become the biggest playmaker on the defense.
1) Michael Buchanan, DE – Buchanan is one of the best pass rushers returning to the Big Ten this season. The long and lean (6’6″ 240) Buchanan tallied 7.5 sacks last season playing opposite 2012 first round pick Whitney Mercilus. With his size and athleticism Buchanan is going to get a lot of attention this season, not only from NFL scouts, but from opposing coordinators. If Buchanan can improve while garnering more double teams, then we might be talking bout him in the first round of next April’s draft.
2) Terry Hawthorne, CB – Hawthorne is a CB that impressed me when I went back and watched tape of Patriots 2nd round pick Tavon Wilson. Hawthorne is a big CB who likes to play aggressively. He led the Big Ten in passes defensed and got better in coverage as the season progressed. Hawthorne is also a pretty good kick and punt returner. I am expecting big things out of Hawthorne this season.
3) Graham Pocic, OC – Pocic is one of the best centers anywhere in the country. He has helped anchor a line that has been very successful running the ball up the middle the past two seasons. Pocic is one of biggest centers you will find listed between 6’5″-6’7″ depending on the reference you will use. With that height you have to wonder if he isn’t best suited to move out to guard.
1) Kawann Short, DT – Short is one of the most physically gifted defensive lineman in the nation. He considered entering the draft as a junior and I think he made a very wise decision to return to school. While Short can be great at times and has a knack for disrupting and making plays in the backfield, he has some holes in his game. He gets blocked and pushed 5-6 yards off the line of scrimmage too often and too easily. His motor is not always on and on numerous occasions he quits on the play when it goes away from him. He needs to become more consistent with his pad level and learn to use his hands better. Short possesses great size and athleticism but, he needs to improve on those things before I give him a 1st-2nd round grade like many other websites/outlets have.
2) Dwayne Beckford, ILB – Beckford is the leading returning tackler for the Boilermakers. He was suspended for last year’s bowl game and was taken off scholarship, but is back on the team as of May. Beckford is underweight for the position but is poised to build on his 91 tackle Junior season.
1) Larry Black Jr., DT – Indiana has only 8 Seniors on their roster so it’s tough to imagine they will have many players drafted this year. The two best pro prospects they have are both defensive tackles. Black has NFL size at 6’2″ 310 pounds and posted impressive numbers for an interior tackle (47 tackles).
2) Adam Replogle, DT – Replogle is the other half of the DT combination who has a chance to play in the NFL. Replogle led the Hoosiers with four sacks last season, which is rare from an interior tackle. Replogle like Black prides himself on getting into the backfield and disrupting things, but they both have to do a better job of getting off of blocks.
1) MarQueis Gray, QB – While Gray played QB last season and will play QB again this fall, he isn’t a NFL QB prospect. I think he will get some looks a wide receiver or tight end. At 6’4″ 240 pounds he has a unique set of skills which could make him a tight end at the next level. He played WR as a sophomore and posted a respectable 42 receptions for 582 yards. Some people think Gray is QB prospect, but I am just not one of them.
2) Troy Stoudemire, CB – Stoudemire is the next best pro prospect on the Golden Gophers (not saying much). Stoudemire missed most of last season due to injury, but when he is healthy he is one of the best kick returners in the Big Ten.
1) Brian Mulroe, OG – Mulroe was an Honorable Mention All-Big 10 selection as a junior and is considered the Wildcats best returning lineman. Known for his athleticism Mulroe is consider a late round- UDFA player as of now.