Big Ten Football: Best 2014 NFL Draft Hopefuls in the B1G
The Big Ten has churned out a number of top-rated prospects in the past with 2014 looking to be no different. Heading into the fall, there are six players who are solid draft prospects out of the conference.
Ohio State is loaded with talent that could jump for the NFL after this fall, while others are losing departing seniors who will leave lasting impacts on the programs that they leave behind.
This is a look at the future draft stars who will come out of the Big Ten in 2014.
Bradley Roby: CB, Ohio State Buckeyes
Bradley Roby is a sure first-round selection if he continues to dominate in 2013. Roby is a solid shutdown corner who helped the Buckeyes close last year with an undefeated record.
The Big Ten quarterbacks will be on notice when they take on the Buckeyes with Roby roaming the secondary. He plays well in man coverage and is a ball hawk in zone schemes.
He is also effective against the run.
Roby is listed as the No. 1 corner in the 2015 draft class (h/t NFL Draft Scout), but a solid junior campaign will lead to an early exit.
Taylor Lewan: OT, Michigan Wolverines
Taylor Lewan flirted with leaving for the NFL after 2012, but he made the decision to stick around for one more season in Ann Arbor.
Considered to be among the nation’s best at offensive tackle (h/t CBSSports), Lewan will be a first-round selection when the 2014 draft rolls around.
There was a major emphasis on offensive tackles this past draft, and Lewan is hoping the trend continues. Lewan is the next in line of what has been a string of successful linemen to come out of Michigan.
Ra’Shede Hageman: DT, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Ra’Shede Hageman finished 2012 with a lot on his plate. He could have returned to the Golden Gophers program and increase his draft stock, or he could have jumped to the NFL early and hope his body of work landed him in the early rounds.
The NFL can never use enough star linemen, and Hageman is the next in line of gap-plugging defensive linemen headed for the pros.
He is a powerful player in the trenches, and one more season in Minnesota will do him well. Heading into the 2014 draft, he will be an early selection.
Ryan Shazier: LB, Ohio State Buckeyes
When looking for elite defensive players, you don’t have to look far past Columbus inside the Big Ten.
Ryan Shazier burst onto the scene as a freshman for Ohio State in 2011, and since he has become a leader and All-American prospect. Shazier controls games with his athleticism. Opponents struggle to keep him contained.
As a rising junior, Shazier has one more season of eligibility that remains after 2013, but if he continues to progress as he has over the past few years, a fourth year will be holding up progress.
If Shazier makes the jump, he will be one of the first outside linebackers taken in the draft.
Dezmen Southward: FS, Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin has produced some talented defenders in the past, but Southward may be the best to come out of Madison in quite a while.
He is a consistent pass-defender who can provide moderate run support for the defense. Putting together a solid career at Wisconsin has helped Southward gain some attention, and with the 2014 draft now in view, that will continue.
Wisconsin needs to make a statement in the fall, and Southward needs to be the face of an unrelenting defense.
Max Bullough: LB, Michigan State Spartans
Max Bullough is a three-time letterman for Michigan State who heads into the 2013 season expecting to finish as the top interior linebacker for the 2014 draft class.
Bullough is a relentless defender who is proficient in every level of the game. He has been able to anchor one of the better defenses in the Big Ten the past few seasons, accumulating 223 tackles in 27 starts.
He is on the Big Ten player watchlist by SI.com and is expecting to be the best at his position in the conference. A solid senior season to cap off his career will land Bullough a first-day phone call.