Dynasty Scouts Conference Preview: Big 10

Rob Willette

The Big Ten is on the brink of breaking some serious droughts. They’ve struggled to produce NFL talent at the quarterback and receiver positions, and despite a reputation as a power, ball-control offense, the running back depth has not been rich either. With the coaching talent as strong as ever and many programs on the upswing, expect the conference to start peppering fantasy rosters with talent over the next few years.

Known Commodities

Corey Clement, RB Wisconsin Badgers

The talent of Corey Clement sneaks up on you. He’s not going to dazzle with breakaway speed or electric plays in space. What he does do well is virtually everything else, starting with excellent balance and good second level burst to accelerate through small seams. He has good size and more importantly, plays big when he needs to and gets small when he needs to. He’s a well-balanced runner that is somewhere between Melvin Gordon and Montee Ball as a prospect.

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Michael Thomas, WR Ohio State Buckeyes

Seldom do tall, athletic receivers with the ability to make circus catches get overlooked, but that’s the reality when you’re on a team as stacked as Ohio State. While Ezekiel Elliott ran all over defenses and Devin Smith dazzled with vertical prowess, it was actually Michael Thomas that proved to be the team’s most complete receiver. A big man with reliable mitts and the ability to make plays at every level, Thomas is one of the better devy values around currently.

Leonte Carroo, WR Rutgers Scarlet Knights

There’s little to nitpick with when it comes to Leonte Carroo. He’s a well put together human being that has a knack for making difficult plays in traffic. He may not have a skill-set dynamic enough to profile as a number one receiver, but he is a good bet to have a long NFL career as a number two or number three.

J.T. Barrett, QB Ohio State Buckeyes

Life before Cardale Jones was still pretty good for the Buckeyes, as J.T. Barrett established himself as a legitimate Heisman contender and one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks. While he’s still a better runner than passer at this point, he’s a got a nice blend of poise and touch and is a better quarterback prospect than people give him credit for.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB Ohio State Buckeyes

Ezekiel Elliott is about as bulletproof as running back prospects come. He has prototype size that compliments premier athleticism and a strong-willed running style. Rule changes now require him to wear more than a halter top, rendering the question of whether or not the extra fabric will inhibit his abilities.

Connor Cook, QB Michigan State Spartans

You have to give Connor Cook credit for being fearless. It is at the same time his best and his worst quality. It leads to many jaw-dropping throws while also lending itself to Ponder-esque, living on a prayer passes that are as liable to find a defender as they are a receiver. I don’t feel he has the raw skill-set to utilize such a mentality, and see him as an overrated prospect at this juncture.

Christian Hackenberg, QB Penn State Nittany Lions

The juxtaposition between the freshman and sophomore seasons of Christian Hackenberg is stark. After embracing Bill O’Brien’s system as a very young true freshman, Hackenberg looked like a three and done, first round quarterback. Following a sophomore season inundated with struggles, he’s raised far more questions than anyone anticipated. Much like many hyped quarterbacks, he is toolsy; however, his accuracy can reach Duke LaLoosh levels of erratic. That’s the big reason why I am not investing in him heavily and perceive as someone who looks the part of a first round quarterback yet does not play to that level.

Justin Jackson, RB Northwestern Wildcats

In what was the year of the freshman running back, there were sure to be some notable seasons overlooked. Justin Jackson may have illustrated it better than anyone, piling up 1,187 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns to little fanfare. It is fair to question if he tops out as an uber-productive college back; however, his development will be one of the bigger devy storylines within the B1G.

Cardale Jones, QB Ohio State Buckeyes

A large human being with plus mobility and a howitzer attached to his body is going to attract a lot of attention, and the playoff run of Cardale Jones offered a glimpse at such tantalizing ability that there was buzz he could have been a day two pick in 2015. He’s still a work in progress as a passer, and may not even start for the Buckeyes this fall, but the tools are so enticing he has become one of the more attractive devy commodities at the position.

Jalin Marshall, WR Ohio State Buckeyes

The 2014 version of the Buckeyes really did not gel until midseason, and the same can be said for Jalin Marshall, a converted quarterback who really did not get things kicking until an October game against Rutgers. Though used mostly as a gadget player thus far in his career, he has an intriguing blend of skills that portend a future at receiver.

Daesean Hamilton, WR Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State’s Daesean Hamilton is a difficult evaluation at this point. Was his role as a possession receiver in 2014 an indicator of his limitations, or of the porous nature of the Nittany Lions’ offensive line? Expected to be a vastly improved offensive group in 2015, it will be a pivotal year for Hamilton as he tries to cement himself as a notable devy receiver and not a limited prospect.

Braxton Miller, WR Ohio State Buckeyes

If viewing Braxton Miller as a quarterback, I’d have a bleak outlook, despite an impressive college resume. As a receiver, however, he’s a six foot something prospect with excellent agility and run after the catch appeal. At the very least, he’s given hope to those owners still holding him on their developmental squad.

Ready To Emerge

Jordan Howard, RB Indiana Hoosiers

A former member of the once defunct, now back on its feet Alabama-Birmingham football program, Jordan Howard is the favorite to replace Tevin Coleman in Bloomington following a strong two year run with the Blazers. He’s poised to lead a Hoosier offense that should be back on its feet with a healthy Nate Sudfeld.

De’Mornay Pierson-El, WR Nebraska Huskers

It will take a supreme effort to replace Ameer Abdullah, and sophomore De’Mornay Pierson-El figures to be at the centerpiece of that transition. He’s quite arguably the best playmaker the Huskers have and is easily its most versatile weapon, offering appeal out of the backfield or outside. His size and role limit his long-term prospects, but expect to become very familiar with him this fall.

Most Overrated

It is a close call between the quarterbacks, though I lean Connor Cook as I’d be very reticent of investing a first round pick in him were I a NFL franchise. As is, I’d only give him a look in Superflex/2QB devy leagues.

Most Underrated

There’s little room for true freshman to become household names on stacked teams, which led to Curtis Samuel fading into the background despite being a premier high school recruit in 2014. Though he did not play much, Samuel showed the burst that made some feel he’d be Urban Meyer’s new Percy Harvin while also demonstrating a unique power and toughness. With adequate size and impressive athleticism, this could be Samuel’s backfield following the departure of Ezekiel Elliott.

Big 10 Top 10

  1. Ezekiel Elliot, RB Ohio State Buckeyes
  2. Michael Thomas, WR Ohio State Buckeyes
  3. Corey Clement, RB Wisconsin Badgers
  4. Leonte Carroo, WR Rutgers Scarlet Knights
  5. Cardale Jones, QB Ohio State Buckeyes
  6. J. Scott, RB Michigan State Spartans
  7. Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State Nittany Lions
  8. T. Barrett, QB Ohio State Buckeyes
  9. Christian Hackenberg, QB Penn State Nittany Lions
  10. Curtis Samuel, RB Ohio State Buckeyes


rob willette