Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, January 21, 2015
With the NFL assembling its Pro Bowl teams, I got to thinking: What type of 2014 NFL team could I assemble with Big Ten alums? Well, have a look.
There is a lack of top-end Big Ten alums at receiver, tight end and running back. Le'Veon Bell is far and away the best Big Ten back in the NFL. There is a huge drop after him. And receiver and tight end are very shallow pools, too.
But the quarterback spot is good, as the Seahawks' Russell Wilson (Wisconsin) and the Saints' Drew Brees (Purdue) had to be left off the squad. Wilson has his team in a second consecutive Super Bowl; Brees led the NFL with 4,952 passing yards.
Wisconsin leads all Big Ten schools with five players on the team; Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska each has three. And 11 of the 14 schools are represented, with only Purdue, Indiana and Northwestern absent.
2014 BIG TEN ALL-NFL TEAM
WR Eric Decker, Jets (Minnesota): No former Big Ten player caught more passes, as Decker made 74 grabs for 962 yards.
WR Mohamed Sanu, Bengals (Rutgers): He had 56 receptions for 790 yards for a strong Cincinnati attack.
TE Owen Daniels, Ravens (Wisconsin): He made 48 catches for 527 yards for a playoff team.
L Joe Thomas, Browns (Wisconsin): One of the few, consistent bright spots on a seemingly rudderless franchise. Thomas is an indomitable force at tackle.
L Travis Frederick, Cowboys (Wisconsin): A center and former first-round pick helped make DeMarco Murray the NFL's top rusher (1,845).
L Nick Mangold, Jets (Ohio State): A powerful force at center, Mangold is a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing Jets' offense.
L Marshal Yanda, Ravens (Iowa): Helped lead Baltimore to the playoffs on an offense that had the No. 4 passing attack in the NFL.
L Bryan Bulaga, Packers (Iowa): A powerful right tackle, Bulaga helped Green Bay rank No. 1 in the NFL in scoring (30.4 ppg).
QB Tom Brady, Patriots (Michigan): He's going to his sixth Super Bowl. Enough said. He's a walking, talking, breathing American icon.
RB Le'Veon Bell, Steelers (Michigan State): He finished No. 2 in the NFL in rushing (1,361 yards), added 85 receptions for 854 yards and totaled 11 touchdowns. He's a true rising star.
RB Denard Robinson, Jaguars (Michigan): There is a lack of top Big Ten backs in the NFL. The converted QB is having success, running for 582 yards.
L J.J. Watt, Texans (Wisconsin): The NFL's top defensive player became the first to tally multiple 20-sack seasons (20.5) en route to becoming a transcendent player and the face of the league.
L Cameron Wake, Dolphins (Penn State): A speed demon off the edge, Wake tallied 11.5 sacks.
L Ndamukong Suh, Lions (Nebraska): A Pro Bowler, Suh is one of the NFL's most dominating and intimidating inside forces.
LB Tamba Hali, Chiefs (Penn State): Hali is an active force who excels in coverage and also brings the heat.
LB D'Qwell Jackson, Colts (Maryland): He made 140 stops and had a big INT in AFC title game that led to ? well ? you know.
LB Lavonte David, Buccaneers (Nebraska): The No. 3 tackler in the league who also forced four fumbles. A fast, active presence.
LB DeAndre Levy, Lions (Wisconsin): Ranked second in the NFL in tackles as one of the NFL's most underrated players.
DB Vontae Davis, Colts (Illinois): He has developed into one of the game's top cover men. Davis defended 22 passes in 2014.
DB Donte Whitner, Browns (Ohio State): Another season, another Pro Bowl. This is three in a row.
DB Charles Woodson, Raiders (Michigan): Yes, he's 38, but Woodson still gets the job done. Had 112 tackles as a free safety.
DB Prince Amukamara, Giants (Nebraska): He continues to emerge in coverage for the Giants, and also notched 46 tackles.
K Mike Nugent, Bengals (Ohio State): He hit 26-of-33 field-goal attempts with a long of 49 yards.
P Steve Weatherford, Giants (Illinois): Boomed 80 punts and averaged 45.5 yards.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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