It is amazing how much Big Ten defenses lost to graduation and NFL draft defection last season.
I thought it notable in my recent article ranking the top conference defensive lines that all of the first team All Big Ten linemen had moved on, with only three of the six second team linemen (between coaches and media) still remaining in the college ranks.
However, with the linebackers, all of the first and second teamers are gone. Even most of the honorable mention linebackers have moved on with the three exceptions being Purdue's Dwayne Beckford, Wisconsin's Mike Taylor and Minnesota's Gary Tinsley.
In short, there will be a lot of new faces in Big Ten front sevens this year. And those new faces will have a lot of opportunities to establish themselves.
A few notes
The players in italics are returning starters. A "returning starter," for my purposes, is any player that has started four or more games in his career.
Players in italics and bold denote multi-year starters.
Players with an asterisk next to their names were first or second team, media or coaches, all-conference last season.
Players with three asterisks next to their names would be returning consensus All-Americans, but as there are none this season, this is irrelevant.
Finally, I have not factored true freshmen into this projection, aside from Ryan Shazier of Ohio State, who graduated high school early and has been on campus since January. Nonetheless, while true freshmen can fill out a depth chart and have important roles to play, if a true freshman is starting, that is rarely a good sign.