Ranking each former B1G player in Super Bowl 50
A week from Sunday, 16 former B1G stars will be on football’s biggest stage in Super Bowl 50. Ten different B1G teams will be represented, with Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin as the teams with multiple representatives.
But to find the best B1G player in Super Bowl 50, you’ll have to look beyond those three teams. For what it’s worth, these rankings are based purely on which players are the best heading into next Sunday’s showdown. College accolades did not factor into them.
So with that, let the disagreement begin:
16. Trevor Siemian, Broncos QB (Northwestern)
There’s been a lot of talk about Bronco quarterbacks this year. Unfortunately for the sixth-round rookie out of Northwestern, he isn’t one of them. He likely won’t be active for the Super Bowl, but hey, it’s the experience that counts.
15. Darius Kilgo, Broncos NT (Maryland)
The Maryland rookie earned a spot on the team after recording two sacks in the preseason. The Maryland rookie likely won’t see the field unless Sylvester Williams were to go down.
14. James Ferentz, Broncos C (Iowa)
Kirk Ferentz’s son earned a backup spot on the roster and appeared in 14 games on offense and in special teams. Unfortunately for Ferentz, he’s backing up a guy that played every snap this season.
13. Cody Latimer, Broncos WR (Indiana)
The former Hoosier hasn’t emerged as a main target for Peyton Manning like many thought he would when he fell to the Broncos in the second round of the 2014 draft. His lone career TD catch came with Brock Osweiler under center, too. If Latimer makes an impact in this one, it’s more likely to be on special teams.
12. Bennie Fowler, Broncos WR (Michigan State)
Fowler’s biggest NFL moment came when in the AFC Divisional round when he had a huge 31-yard catch to set up the go-ahead touchdown. As Manning’s fifth option, the MSU rookie’s odds of one-upping that in the Super Bowl aren’t favorable.
11. Brad Nortman, Panthers P (Wisconsin)
Nortman’s services haven’t been needed much for a Panther offense averaging 40 points per game in the playoffs. The former Badger is average in the distance department (45 yards per punt), but that won’t be his main focus against Denver. He’ll have to avoid setting up Jordan Norwood.
10. Jordan Norwood, Broncos WR (Penn State)
With Omar Bolden on injured reserve, it was Norwood — not Emmanuel Sanders — who got the starting punt returner gig. The former PSU wideout has had a journeyman career so far, but he has a chance to be a lightning rod in the return game.
9. Devin Funchess, Panthers WR (Michigan)
There might’ve been some unfair expectations put on the 21-year-old rookie when Kelvin Benjamin went down. Funchess showed flashes of the receiver he can become, and he’s still capable of shining on the big stage. But a guy with two career games with four-plus catches won’t be atop the Broncos’ scouting report.
8. Michael Schofield, Broncos OT (Michigan)
The former Wolverine has been the face of a lot of criticism from Bronco fans this year. Denver’s starting right tackle was considered the offense’s weak link, but he has played much better in the playoffs. Handling Carolina’s pass-rushers, however, might be a new challenge.
7. Philly Brown, Panthers WR (Ohio State)
If these rankings were just by names, the man they call “Philly” would be at the top of the list. The undrafted former Buckeye picked the perfect time to have the biggest game of his NFL career last week. He isn’t a high-volume guy (less than two catches per game) but the Cardinals showed why he has to be accounted for, especially if Aqib Talib is draped all over Ted Ginn.
6. Bradley Roby, Broncos CB (Ohio State)
Nobody — not even Aaron Rodgers — made a bigger play in the postseason than the one Roby made to finish off the Patriots. Roby’s interception on the Patriots’ two-point conversion attempt showed off his knack for being in the right place at the right time. That wasn’t the first time the former Buckeye has come up big like that, and if he has it his way, it won’t be the last.
5. Owen Daniels, Broncos TE (Wisconsin)
Remember when everyone assumed Vernon Davis was going to come to Denver and steal Daniels’ job? Yeah, about that. The former Badger had two first-half touchdowns in the AFC Championship and has emerged as a critical safety valve for his 39-year-old quarterback.
4. Andrew Norwell, Panthers OG (Ohio State)
The most underrated aspect of Cam Newton’s brilliance has been the offensive line that protects him. Norwell is a big part of that. The undrafted former Buckeye rated as Pro Football Focus’ eighth-best guard in the NFL in 2015. Another big effort in the Super Bowl and he could be in line for a long-term extension.
3. Ted Ginn, Jr., Panthers WR (Ohio State)
The former Buckeye hasn’t quite lived up to his lofty NFL expectations and drops are still an issue. But believe it or not, Ginn did have a career-high 10 receiving touchdowns in 2015. There are few guys capable of impacting the game on offense and special teams as quickly as Ginn can. He might be 30, but as he showed last week, he can still break ankles in the open field.
2. Kurt Coleman, Panthers S (Ohio State)
Talk about finding a home. Coleman bounced around the NFL before he broke out with the Panthers this year. Now one of the league’s top safeties, Coleman racked up seven interceptions in the regular season. His two picks in the NFC Championship helped Carolina roll past Arizona. If Peyton Manning attempts to throw those wobbly deep balls, it’s Coleman — not Josh Norman — who’s most likely to make him pay.
1. Kawann Short, Panthers DT (Purdue)
It’s hard to argue with Short at the top spot. He earned his first Pro Bowl nod after a season in which he became one of the NFL’s top defensive linemen. There’s a reason the Panthers cause so many problems without blitzing. The former All-B1G tackle tied for the league lead in sacks among defensive tackles (11) and he recorded a whopping 53 quarterback hurries. Short is plenty capable of ruining Manning’s swan song.