Pro Football Focus tabs B1G players as top-graded returners at respective positions
Basically every publication is going to come out with preseason All-American teams this summer. Most of them will look alike, with probably a few differences here and there.
But Pro Football Focus did something perhaps more meaningful than that.
Instead of just looking at the basic statistical categories and determining the top returning players in the country, they went more in depth. PFF broke down every play from Power Five teams during the 2015 season to determine its player grades. The results might surprise you.
Sure, the big names like Christian McCaffrey and Baker Mayfield made the cut, but a few selections from the B1G likely won’t show up on anybody’s preseason All-American team.
- WR: Jordan Westerkamp, Nebraska
- TE: George Kittle, Iowa
- DT: Jake Replogle, Purdue
- 3-4 OLB: Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
- CB: Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
PFF’s top-graded returning receiver was Nebraska’s Jordan Westerkamp. The second-team All-B1G selection is a human highlight reel, and he should wind up as a first-team All-B1G receiver in preseason publications.
The same goes for Kittle, who will no longer have to share looks with Henry Krieger-Coble. The Iowa tight end did lead the team with six touchdown catches and he earned honorable mention All-America honors from Sports Illustrated.
He also did this:
Replogle might’ve come as a bit of surprise, considering he played for one of the lowest-rated defenses among Power Five teams. Among B1G tackles alone, Malik McDowell (MSU) and Chris Wormley (UM) will receive more preseason ink. But Replogle did rack up 14 tackles for loss and 46 quarterback pressures, which was why PFF had him graded as the top returning DT.
The B1G’s other defenders on the list, Biegel and Lewis, shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Biegel bypassed the NFL draft after leading the top-scoring defense in the country. PFF graded Biegel No. 1 against the run, No. 1 rushing the passer and No. 1 overall among OLBs.
Lewis also got similar praise. The All-American cornerback had PFF’s No. 1 coverage grade, and was ranked even higher than No. 5 overall pick Jalen Ramsey. Quarterbacks had a 46.8 passer rating throwing into his coverage and he only missed one tackle as a run defender.
According to PFF, Iowa’s Desmond King was a close second to Lewis. Both B1G cornerbacks will likely be unanimous preseason All-Americans and both could battle for the Jim Thorpe Award, which King won in 2015.