Big Ten Blog

By: Ryan Walker



For years, my Midwest brethren and I have been in denial, but it is safe now to come forward and admit a true fault of ours. We always truly believed the Big Ten was still an all-powerful conference. The last few years we have continued to see a steady decline in talent, toughness and consistency. Everyday we would argue that we could hold our own with the Pac-12, Big 12, the lower half of the SEC and even, gasp, the ACC, but it seems we had a veil in front of our eyes that has now been lifted.

Don’t get me wrong, the Big Ten is still chalk full of quality players and coaches, but the mystique and the aura of the early Big Ten ‘tough guy’ seems to be slipping more and more with each week. This is true not only when watching a Big Ten game, but even more evident when I have the pleasure of watching an SEC or Pac-10 team play on TV. The speed and versatility of each unit shows that they are running away with the talent across the country.

With four games into the season, there is still a little room for rebound, but the Big Ten must continue on winning its fans undying allegiance back.
For one, recruit harder and bigger. Michigan and Ohio State have done a fine job in this department, but the rest of the Big Ten must continue to get their hat in the ring with every major prospect that they have an iota of landing. Even just the mention of your school by a big name recruit attracts others. This is the recruiting world we live in today with all the mass media of ESPN, Rivals and Scout. Many kids, and fans don’t realize that college coaches rarely look to these sites for advice or prospects, but student-athletes are always on there wondering how to earn that extra star.

The second and most important aspect the Big Ten must continue to improve on is physicality. When you watch an SEC defense, the biggest difference you see is their violent and physical nature on the field. Football is a very violent sport and many successful players do very well because they play violently, not just hard. Coaches want violent players on their team. I’m not talking criminals, but physically imposing young men who know that between whistles they can knock the snot out of people and not be punished. More and more games I watch at the Big Ten level, we are always near the bottom of this category.

Obviously both of these recommendations are much easier written then done, and some teams out there are very physical and recruit well within their means. If we start to see the physicality increase then you start to send more people to the NFL, which gives you better, if not the best, recruiting leverage. I cannot wait for the reemergence of Big Ten dominance someday soon.



Top 15 Senior Prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft


1. Ricky Wagner – OT – Wisconsin – 6ft6in 320lbs


            Calm, smart lineman with great measurables. Shows the strength and the footwork to go against strength and speed. Wisconsin continues to churn out dependable lineman. 1st round grade.



2. John Simon – DE - 6ft2in 260lbs


            A weight room psycho with good playing strength. Great burst, but can be inconsistent. Great intensity. Uses leverage and his hands well in pass rush and playing the run. Lacks superior agility and flexibility that would allow him more athletic moves in the pass rush. Very possible linebacker candidate if he works on his feet and bend. Late first/Early second round grade.


3. Johnny Adams – CB – Michigan State – 5ft11in 177lbs


            Is a tremendous cover corner. Does everything well and there is no doubt that he is the best defensive back in the Big 10. Only problem is he looks half the overall mass of Denard Robinson…who is listed as only one inch taller and 20lbs heavier. You don’t need to be a giant to play corner, but this will keep him to the later half of the first round.


4. Michael Buchanan – DE – Illinois – 6ft5in 245lbs


            Stringy looking defensive end with good burst. Great bend for his height. If he continues to bulk up he can make his way into first round consideration. Right now he is a 2nd round prospect with the possibility to go in the 1st with great test numbers.


5. Gerald Hodges – LB – Penn State – 6ft2in 237lbs


            Explosive linebacker with good size and some room to bulk up even more. Smart, tracks the ball well and arrives with a nasty disposition. Good leader and a fiery competitior. 2nd round grade.


6. Kawaan Short – DT – Purdue -6ft3in 310lbs


            Physically imposing defensive tackle. Looks the part, but is stiff on film without an extra burst. Lacks the nasty demeanor to dominate. Now that it sounds like I have properly ripped him, he should still find his way into the 3rd round based on his size/speed combination.


7. Micah Hyde – CB – Iowa – 6ft1in 190lbs


            Former quarterback in high school who has the instincts, agility and physicality to play with the big boys. While helping recruit him from high school, the first thing I noticed was his ability to make several moves within just a few moments. This translates very well to corners. 3rd round grade.


8. Travis Howard – CB – Ohio State - 6ft1in 196lbs


            Underrrated corner with prototypical height and athleticism. Seems hesitant at times, but with his senior year coming up I can see him really displaying that extra confidence needed in a corner. May not be as ‘sticky’ as draft pundits may want, but I give him a 3rd round grade.


9. Jake Stoneburner – TE – Ohio State – 6ft5in 245lbs


            Massive target who can split wide with his athleticism and speed. Smooth receiver who is an adequate blocker. Looks thin on the field and could stand to bulk up a bit. 3rd round grade.


10. Craig Roh – DE – Michigan – 6ft5in 280lbs


            Huge defensive end who has started at outside linebacker in his career as well. Has a lean, strong frame. Can be a bit stiff at times and lacks the bend to get around the outside. Rounds 3-4.


11. Michael Mauti – LB – Penn State – 6ft2in 242lbs


            Classic banger at middle linebacker. A bit stiff all around, but has the size and the downhill ability to produce at the Mike position. Big presence to him and is a natural leader. 3-4 round grade.


12. Rex Burkhead – RB – 5ft11in 210lbs


            Stong, athletic runner with a very powerful base. Good vision, but can run a bit too high for only being 5’11”. A workhorse, one gear back who will land in rounds 4-6.


13. Denard Robinson – WR/ATH – Michigan - 6ft0in 195lbs


            Obviously a very explosive player who won’t be given a chance at quarterback. We will have to wait for his workouts to see how he runs routes, but I don’t think it’ll be good enough for taking him any higher than the 4th round. Maybe further down…


14. Terry Hawthorne – CB – Illinois – 6ft0in 190lbs


            Very athletic corner with great feet. Can get out of position often, but has great speed and agility to recover. Very good in run support and will be displaying his versatility on offense a bit this fall. 3-5 round prospect.


15. Keenan Davis – WR – Iowa – 6ft3in 215lbs


            Big bodied wide receiver with good experience. Isn’t very crafty, but can run solid routes and find his way open. 5-6 round prospect.



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