College Football Rankings 2011: John Simon and the Top 6 Big Ten Defenders

Eddie WaltersAnalyst IIAugust 10, 2011

College Football Rankings 2011: John Simon and the Top 6 Big Ten Defenders

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    With the 2011 college football season right around the corner, it's time to take a look at Ohio State's John Simon and the top six defensive players the Big Ten has to offer. 

    The Big Ten is known for it's tough team defenses and the individual talent proves just that. What do J.J. Watt, Ryan Kerrigan, Corey Liuget, Adrian Clayborn and Cameron Heyward all have in common with one another? 

    They were all first-round picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. 

    The Big Tens' defensive talent is no exception this year and these six players should be top in the Conference at the end of the season.  

6. Vince Brown

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    School: Northwestern

    Class: Senior

    Position: Defensive End

    2010 Stats: 58 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.

    Vince Browne is probably the best defensive player Big Ten fans don't know about—though they will. Browne should become a household name to followers of the Big Ten with first team all Big Ten honors in his near future.

    Browne is already fifth on Northwestern's all-time career sacks leader board and with a likely 10 plus sack season on the way this season, he could go down as one of the best pass rushers ever to attend Northwestern.  

5. Alfonzo Dennard

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    School: Nebraska 

    Class: Senior

    Position: Cornerback 

    2010 Stats: 30 tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 touchdown.

    Nebraska should once again field one of the nation's top secondaries, even with the loss of Prince Amukamara who was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. 

    Dennard should be a first team all-conference player by the end of the year and should also be a finalist for most defensive awards nationally. 

4. Shaun Prater

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    School: Iowa

    Class: Senior

    Position: Cornerback 

    2010 Stats: 68 tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 touchdown.

    Shaun Prater is arguably the best corner in the Big Ten and has the 2010 first team honors to prove it. 

    Prater will be vital to the success of the Hawkeye pass defense—a defense that ranked 25th nationally in stopping the pass during the 2010 season. 

     

3. John Simon

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    School: Ohio State

    Class: Junior

    Position: Defensive End/Defensive Tackle

    2010 Stats: 57 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 touchdown.

    If man-child was an actual word in the dictionary, John Simon's name would be right next to it. 

    The 6'2'' 270 pound junior defensive tackle has been an impact player on the Ohio State defensive line ever since his first year on campus.

    John Simon should be the best defensive player on the entire Ohio State roster and the Buckeyes will need him to not only be a play maker but a leader as well.

    With the departure of first-round draft pick Cameron Heyward, Simon will now see time on the outside at the defensive end position where he should thrive with his elite combination of size and quickness.   

2. Lavonte David

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    School: Nebraska 

    Class: Senior 

    Position: Line-backer

    2010 Stats: 152 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 6 sacks.

    Nebraska has their name all over this list and rightfully so. 

    Lavonte David was one of the biggest surprises in the country last year. David was third nationally in tackles and set the Cornhusker record for most tackles in a single season—all in his first year at Nebraska.

    Though David is a bit undersized at only 210 pounds, he should still be an impact player on the defensive side of the ball for Nebraska in 2011. 

    David looks to be an early favorite to lead the nation in tackling by seasons end.  

1. Jared Crick

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    School: Nebraska

    Class: Senior 

    Position: Defensive Tackle 

    2010 Stats: 70 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks.

    Normally when a team loses the No.2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, they have trouble finding a replacement—unless your Nebraska.

    The Cornhuskers lost Ndamukong Suh in 2010 only to have Jared Crick seemingly fill in where Suh left off. No, Crick is not as great as Suh, but he's pretty darn good.

    Crick has started in 28 consecutive games while being named a first team all conference member in each of the past two seasons.

    Crick will have to take care of business in a different conference because of Nebraska's move to the Big Ten, though I don't see any conference slowing him down.