Where does the time go? We’re entering the halfway point of the 2018 college football season this weekend. With it comes another chance to shape the narrative surrounding the players across the country. For us here at the Draft Network, it’s a chance to re-mold our All Draft-Eligible squads.
For yours truly, it is a great time to look back at the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten is where I spent the majority of my summer. Not much has changed, really. The sun rises in the east, death and taxes come for us all. Oh, and Ohio State beat Penn State with a big 4th quarter comeback again in 2018.
But how about the players themselves? Picking an All Draft-Eligible list would look something like this:
QB – Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State: Haskins has led one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the entire country. The Buckeyes rank 6th in the country with 49.0 ppg, much due to Haskins’ masterful control of the Ohio State offense. It’s too early to know if Haskins has the NFL on his mind, but teams will have their fingers crossed he makes the leap after a strong 2018.
RB – Miles Sanders, Penn State: Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor has bulled his way to the conference lead with over 800 rushing yards in six games, but he’s a true sophomore. First year starter Miles Sanders has been a delight to watch. He pinballs his way through traffic in the first half of 2018 and is a dynamic rusher who can creates big plays.
WR – Parris Campbell, Ohio State: Speaking of playmakers…Campbell is tied for 6th in the country with 7 touchdown receptions. Many of those have come on explosive run after the catch efforts, where Campbell’s speed in space is simply too much to withstand.
WR – Stanley Morgan Jr, Nebraska: Believe it or not, the Huskers are still playing football this season. They may not have a win, but they have a terrific receiver in Stanley Morgan Jr. Morgan has been a steady performer through unsteady waters and as a result may be a bit of sleeper entering the draft process this winter.
TE – Noah Fant, Iowa: Just because the Hawkeyes refuse to use Fant in the receiving game doesn’t mean he’s lost his edge. A year after 11 of 30 catches went for touchdowns, Fant is on a terrific pace again (5 of 19 through five games).
This trio of Badgers is the catalyst of RB Jonathan Taylor’s success: the Badgers run the ball an average of just under 47 times per game through the first five games of the season. Deiter is back where he’s best, on the interior and playing next to star redshirt sophomore Biadasz. David Edwards’ presence in the run game continues to push him into consideration for a first round title when it’s all said and done.
OL – Isaiah Prince, Ohio State: The Buckeyes haven’t tackled a lot of stout defensive lines yet this season. That said, I appreciate seeing a little more physicality out of Prince’s game this season. He’s added some pop in his hands that I felt was missing last year.
OL – Michael Jordan, Ohio State: After some shaky snaps against TCU, Jordan has acclimated well to playing at Center this season. Jordan has played guard in the past and is the latest Buckeye to kick to center and up his game.
EDGE – Anthony Nelson, Iowa: Sorry, Ohio State DE Chase Young. You’ll be on this list next year. The Buckeyes pass rush has been phenomenal, but not all of their players are of age to make this list. Instead, Iowa’s Anthony Nelson makes the cut, he’s leading the Big Ten with 5 sacks through the first half of the season and possesses prototypical base-end size and length.
EDGE – Nick Bosa, Ohio State: I don’t care that we may not see Bosa play a single snap the rest of the season. When you’re as good as Bosa, you make every list of awards and accolades. Period.
DT – Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State: The only game this season Jones hasn’t logged at least one full tackle for loss was against Rutgers in Week 2. As a matter of fact, Jones is 1.5 TFL in 2018 away from doubling his career number (9) before this season. Jones is still somewhat inconsistent at the line but that’s also not his style of play.
DT – Rashan Gary, Michigan: Gary missed last Saturday’s contest against the Terrapins and hasn’t filled up the stat sheet so far this season. But he’s still a notable presence along the defensive line and his athleticism commands attention from offensive protections.
LB – Joe Bachie Jr, Michigan State: Watching Bachie on film from 2017, he was a player that played stout and had a nose for the football. That trend has continued into 2018, as Bachie is one of the tackle leaders in the conference and has already logged an interception and two pass deflections on the season.
LB – Tuf Borland, Ohio State: Borland isn’t getting a high volume workload in a lot of games this season, but remember that he’s also coming back from an Achilles injury in less than 6 months. That’s pretty incredible. After being weaned back into his role as a redshirt sophomore captain, Borland has been a big presence when his team needed him most: against TCU and Penn State.
LB – Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin: Connelly has found success in the backfield so far this season, effectively slashing into the backfield to generate numerous QB pressures and also log 4.5 tackles for loss on the season. His ability to play clean behind a stout Badgers’ defensive line really helps to accentuate his strengths.
CB – Amani Oruwariye, Penn State: The Lions can thank Oruwariye for bailing them out against Appalachian State in the season opener, when Amani snatched the game sealing interception in overtime. Oruwariye has since nabbed another interception and is playing extremely well in his first season as a full time starter in Happy Valley.
CB – Montre Hartage, Northwestern: Hartage isn’t going to be for everyone but my goodness is he pesky when he’s able to play press and get into your hip as a defender in man to man coverage. He was a big part of Northwestern’s upset win against Michigan State last weekend.
S – Antoine Brooks, Maryland
S – Darnell Savage, Maryland
The Maryland duo has been the second biggest set of risers in the Big Ten behind Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins. Brooks was one of the biggest pieces of Maryland’s season opening upset win against Texas, logging the interception to seal the deal while being a short in the side of the Longhorns up front all day long. Darnell Savage, meanwhile, is filling up the stat sheet with 2 interceptions, 4 tackles for loss and a defensive touchdown. The Terps are a hit or miss team but they’ve got big hitters on the back end.