The 2014 NFL Draft is officially in the books, which means it’s time to look ahead to who will replace the Big Ten’s freshly minted pros this fall. Thirty players were drafted, including four first-rounders, so there are plenty of big shoes to fill.
Let’s check out the potential replacements for every Big Ten player selected in the draft.
1. Michigan OT Erik Magnuson (Taylor Lewan)
Magnuson started seven games at guard for the Wolverines last season, but is expected to take over for Taylor Lewan as Michigan’s starting left tackle. The 6-6, 300 pound Magnuson missed all of spring practice after having a surgical procedure performed on his shoulder, but he is expected to be ready for the fall. Others who could fill the starting left tackle spot include Mason Cole and Ben Braden.
2. Ohio State OLB Josh Perry (Ryan Shazier)
Perry is probably the likely candidate to replace Shazier, who notched more than 300 tackles during his three seasons in Columbus. Perry totaled 64 tackles last season from the other outside ‘backer spot, opposite of Shazier. It will be interesting to see if Urban Meyer elects to move Perry over, or keep him at his spot and opt to go with one of the younger guys at the “Will” linebacker spot, which Shazier occupied in 2013.
3. Michigan State CB Darian Hicks (Darqueze Dennard)
Who will replace Dennard as the leader of Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone?” It looks like the early candidate is sophomore Darian Hicks. The 6-0, 180 pounds corner had a standout spring game and has become a favorite among the Michigan State coaching staff. With Hicks and Trae Waynes in the defensive backfield, this secondary should be outstanding once again next season.
4. Ohio State CB Armani Reeves (Bradley Roby)
Reeves is a guy who has experience and started in place of Bradley Roby last year during his suspension. He has played in big-time games as well, including last year’s Orange Bowl, where the Buckeyes fell to a very talented Clemson team. Several young players will push Reeves for the starting corner spot opposite Doran Grant, including mega-recruit Damon Webb, but I think it’s safe to say that this is Reeve’s job heading into the fall.
5. Minnesota DT Scott Ekpe (Ra’Shede Hageman)
Replacing one of the most productive defensive tackles in the Big Ten is no easy task, but from the looks of it, Scott Ekpe is up for that task. This is a guy who had plenty of experience last season, totaling 19 tackles in nine games from the defensive tackle spot. He should be in line for a starting spot, alongside Cameron Botticelli.
6. Indiana WR Isaiah Roundtree (Cody Latimer)
The Hoosiers will have two big-time receivers to replace in Latimer and Kofi Hughes. So who’s ready to step up into Latimer’s role? The leading candidate right now is Isaiah Roundtree, who hauled in 14 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, despite being the fifth option is Indiana’s high-powered offense. Another guy to keep an eye on is incoming freshman Dominique Booth, a highly touted recruit who should bring some big-time playmaking ability to Bloomington.
7. Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elloitt (Carlos Hyde)
Hyde was an absolute force in the Buckeyes backfield, but it will be Ezekiel Elliott who will get the first shot at replacing the former Buckeye workhorse. Elliott appeared in seven games last season, rushing 30 times for 262 yards and two touchdowns, an average of 8.7 yards per carry. Dontre Wilson, who is one of the most electric playmakers in the Big Ten, will also he used in the backfield as more of an H-back role.
8. Nebraska CB Josh Mitchell (Stanley Jean-Baptiste)
The Huskers face the task of replacing both of their starting cornerbacks, but they have a good one waiting in the wings in senior Josh Mitchell. Nebraska struggled with producing turnovers on the defensive side of the ball last season, recording just 18 takeaways, which was the second-fewest in the Big Ten. Mitchell only forced two turnovers last year, but they both came in the Huskers’ 24-19 win over Georgia in the Gator Bowl. Also, this is a guy who has plenty of confidence, which became more than evident from this tweet Mitchell sent out several weeks after Nebraska’s bowl game victory.
9. Ohio State LT Taylor Decker (Jack Mewhort)
Decker started at right tackle for the Buckeyes last season, but it looks like he will likely move over to the left side in 2014. In fact, Decker is the only returning starter on Ohio State’s offensive line. Kyle Dodson is another name to keep an eye on this fall. He served as Decker’s primary backup last season, and should battle for one of the starting tackle spots next season as well.
10. Penn State WR Geno Lewis (Allen Robinson)
How do you replace a guy who had 97 catches for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns? Well, you don’t. But the guy who has the best shot at it is redshirt sophomore Geno Lewis. The 6-1, 200 pound Lewis caught 18 balls for 234 yards and three touchdowns last season. He closed out the season on a high note, including a 91-yard, two touchdown game in the season finale against Wisconsin. This guy has all the tools to be a star.
11. Iowa TE Jake Duzey (C.J. Fiedorowicz)
C.J. Fiedorowicz is a huge loss at tight end, but there is depth there for Iowa. Jake Duzey is the likely candidate to take over the starting job, although Ray Hamilton will certainly be in the mix, as well. Duzey caught 19 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns last season, while Hamilton, who is the more physical tight end, hauled in eight catches for 95 yards. Look for both of these guys to see a lot of action in double-tight formations for the Hawkeyes in 2014.
12. Wisconsin S Nate Hammon (Dezmen Southward)
Wisconsin’s defense couldn’t be as aggressive as they wanted to be last year because the personnel didn’t fit such a package/philosophy. But from the looks of it, that’s changing. Enter Nate Hammon, a 6-1, 200 pound safety who will get the first shot at taking over for Southward. Hammon has experience, starting two games last season and totaling 20 tackles and a sack. He should be a big part of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s smaller, quicker, sleeker defense.
13. Iowa OLB Travis Perry (Christian Kirksey)
There wasn’t a single unit in the Big Ten that was hit harder than Iowa’s linebacking group. The Hawkeyes lost all three starters with the graduation of Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens and James Morris. However, according to BTN.com colleague Tom Dienhart, the Iowa coaching staff has done a nice job developing this new group of linebackers, which has talent and just needs some experience.
14. Wisconsin MLB Marcus Trotter (Chris Borland)
How do you replace one of the best linebackers in Wisconsin football history? It’s no easy task, but senior Marcus Trotter is ready for the challenge. The 6-0, 240 pound Trotter has experience, playing in five games last season and recording nine tackles in back-to-back games against Illinois and Iowa. Trotter has the size, speed and strength to rival Borland, but the leadership quality that Borland possessed will be near-impossible to replace.
15. Nebraska OG Mike Moudy (Spencer Long)
Moudy is a guy who was worked into the rotation last season following the injury to Spencer Long. Now, with Long off to the NFL, Moudy is expected to become the starter at right guard for the Huskers this fall. The 6-5, 305-pound senior has the size, strength and experience to be an impact player on this Nebraska offensive line unit.
16. Michigan RT Ben Braden (Michael Schofield)
Michigan struggled on the offensive line last season when Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield were there. In other words, it could be a bit of an adventure trying to replace the two NFL draft picks. It looks like Ben Braden is in line to take over the starting right tackle spot for the Wolverines. Devin Gardner was sacked a total of 34 times last season. Hopefully Braden can help improve that number in 2014.
17. Penn State DT Austin Johnson (DaQuan Jones)
Austin Johnson looks like the next in line to help anchor this Penn State defensive line. Johnson appeared in every game last season as a redshirt freshman, making two starts and recording 27 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery. According to Aubrey Snyder of PennLive.com, the 6-3, 308-pound Johnson was singled out last year by Bill O’Brien a few times as one of the emerging young players on the team.
18. Iowa OLB Reggie Spearman (Anthony Hitchens)
Spearman is the “newbie” of this new linebacker trio at Iowa, and probably the one who is considered the most unknown commodity. The 6-3, 225 pound Spearman appeared in six games last season and totaled just 11 tackles. However, he has done a nice job this spring and has impressed Kirk Ferentz and the rest of the Hawkeyes’ coaching staff. The linebacker position is in good hands and the trio of Spearman, Perry and Quinton Alston have stepped in nicely, according to Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com.
19. Wisconsin RB Corey Clement (James White)
It’s not often that you get to replace a senior tailback with a guy who rushed for 547 yards and seven touchdowns the previous season. Corey Clement put up those numbers last year as the Badgers’ third string running back. Now, Clement will team up with preseason All-American Melvin Gordon to form one of the top one-two rushing combinations in college football. Is it just me, or does it seem like this Badger backfield gets better and better every year?
20. Minnesota CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Brock Vereen)
Brock Vereen moved all around the secondary during his time at Minnesota, starting the 2013 season at safety and ending it at cornerback. Many believe Derrick Wells is in line to take over the starting corner spot, opposite Eric Murray. However, according to Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune, the more likely bet to start at the other CB spot is Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who tore an ACL in the season’s second game. In the only full game he played last season, against UNLV, Boddy-Calhoun had three tackles and returned an interception – the first of his career – 89 yards for a touchdown. His interception return was the third-longest in school history.
21. Purdue CB Anthony Brown (Ricardo Allen)
Ricardo Allen was one of the lone bright spots on Purdue’s defense last season, so replacing his playmaking ability certainly wont be easy. It looks like the front-runner to take over the starting cornerback spot, opposite Frankie Williams, is junior Anthony Brown. According to Travis Miller of hammerandrails.com, Brown made the move from safety to corner and looked impressive in the spring game.
22. Purdue OT David Hedelin (Kevin Pamphile)
This is one of the toughest positions to project, as Purdue has several options to replace Kevin Pamphile at the left tackle position. The leading candidate at this point should be David Hedelin, a 6’5″ 285 pound offensive tackle who is a JC transfer from City College of San Francisco. However, Hedelin faces a possible NCAA-suspension from playing with a club team in his native Sweden. Also in the mix at left tackle is Jack DeBoef–who ran with the first team in the spring but didn’t impress–and Joey Warburg. This is a position battle to keep an eye on this summer.
23. Ohio State C Jacoby Boren (Corey Linsley)
Jacoby Boren is the third Boren brother to play for the Buckeyes, following in the footsteps of his brothers Zach and Justin. This is a guy who has been praised by the coaching staff for his work ethic, and he should be in line to earn the starting center spot. “Boren has been groomed for this job for two seasons behind Corey Linsley and should slide right into the starting role,” said Doug Lesmerises of cleveland.com. This is an offensive line that must replace four starters from last year’s 12-2 team.
24. Penn State G Angelo Mangiro (John Urschel)
It looks like redshirt junior Angelo Mangiro will get the first shot at trying to replace the bright-minded John Urschel as the Nittany Lions’ starting right guard spot. Derek Dowrey is another guy to keep an eye on for this spot, according to Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call.
25. Wisconsin WR Kenzel Doe (Jared Abbrederis)
The Badgers need a receiver to step up in the passing game after losing leading wideout Jared Abbrederis, among others. It looks like that could be Kenzel Doe, a 5-8, 171 pound speedster who has totaled 25 catches in three seasons. Doe was one of the bright spots in the Badgers’ spring game, hauling in a spectacular 27-yard diving touchdown catch from Tanner McEvoy. This guy is small in stature, but has the potential to put up some big numbers during his senior season in Madison.
26. Nebraska WR Sam Burtch (Quincy Enunwa)
We know that Kenny Bell will maintain his starting wide receiver spot, but who will take the place of Quincy Enunwa? It looks like that role could be filled by junior-to-be Sam Burtch. The 6-3 Burtch had a great spring and has really nice chemistry with quarterback Tommy Armstrong, having worked on the second team last year. Burtch hauled in 12 catches for 147 yards and three touchdowns as a backup last season. Those numbers should take a huge leap next season.
27. Indiana TE Danny Friend (Ted Bolser)
How important was Ted Bolser to the Hoosiers offense this past season? Indiana tight ends totaled 36 receptions, and Bolser accounted for 35 of them. In other words, it is near impossible to predict who is going to step up and fill the tight end void left by Bolser. It looks like the leading candidate right now is sophomore Danny Friend, who saw limited action in a backup role last season. Junior Anthony Corsaro was the only tight end other than Bolser to catch a pass in 2013, but is still recovering from a foot injury. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top of this competition this summer.
28. Wisconsin NT Warren Herring (Beau Allen)
The Badgers have the challenge of replacing their entire defensive line, including the anchor of the unit, Beau Allen. That job will go to senior Warren Herring, who appeared in all 13 games last season, making 17 tackles and four sacks. Allen was the big man in the middle of the Badgers’ defense. But at 6-3, 294 pounds, and with good mobility to get to the quarterback, it looks like Herring is a solid replacement.
29. Ohio State S Vonn Bell (Christian Bryant)
Bell was a mega-recruit who saw action as a true freshman last year in the Buckeyes’ secondary. Bryant, who missed the majority of the 2014 season with a broken ankle, was a late-round pick of the St. Louis Rams, which means Bell should join Tyvis Powell as Ohio State’s starting safeties in 2014. This group is young, but is loaded with talent and potential.
30. Michigan WR Freddy Canteen (Jeremy Gallon)
It’s never easy to replace a guy who hauled in 89 passes for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns. But the Michigan coaching staff believes it has its guy in freshman wideout Freddy Canteen. Canteen ended spring practice as the No. 1 outside wide receiver on the depth chart after a stellar spring game performance. “If he can add some weight to his 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame, he could be a difference maker,” MLive.com‘s Nick Baumgardner said of Canteen. With Canteen and Devin Funchess, the Michigan receiving core could be really good in 2014.