Draftageddon: It Ends!

Submitted by Brian on August 13th, 2014 at 6:13 PM

The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.

PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON

  1. Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
  2. Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
  3. Nothing terribly remarkable happens
  4. BISB takes all the guys I want
  5. A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
  6. WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
  7. Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
  8. Someone drafts an Illinois defender! I know!
  9. BISB goes Maryland crazy, reminds us all that he has Kurtis Drummond eighty-five times.
  10. GUAAAAARDS!
  11. The transitive property of MSU corners and Wisconsin RBs, and Phil Steele goes Heiko.
  12. Holy pants this isn't over yet?

CURRENTLY CURRENT SITUATION:

currently currently current

ROUND 24 - PICK 4: Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin
ROUND 25 - PICK 1: Andrew Donnal, OT, Iowa

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O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), QB Christian Hackenberg (PSU), RB Melvin Gordon (WI), RB/WR Josh Fergusion (UI), WR Stefon Diggs (MD), WR Tony Lippett (MSU) TE Jeff Heuerman (OSU), OT Rob Havenstein(WI), G Kyle Costigan(WI), G Dallas Lewallen(WI), C Dan Voltz (WI), Andrew Donnal (IA)

D: DE Frank Clark(M), DE Therien Cockran (MN), DT Darius Hamilton(RU), DT Carl Davis(IA), LB Desmond Morgan(M), LB James Ross(M), CB Trae Waynes (MSU), CB Jordan Lucas (PSU), CB/HSP Doran Grant (OSU), S Ibraheim Campbell (NW), S Traveon Henry (NW)

ST: K Michael Geiger (MSU), PR/KR Stefon Diggs(MD)

BRIAN: Well... obviously. With injuries knocking out a couple of Wisconsin linemen, Dan Voltz stepped into the starting center job for six games last year. Those were:

OHIO STATE: team rushes 27 times for 104 yards.
BYU: 54 for 229
INDIANA: 50 for 554
MINNESOTA: 45 for 197
PENN STATE: 30 for 120
SOUTH CAROLINA: 43 for 293

So there was little to no dropoff in the Badgers' crushing ground game when he entered. Voltz was just a redshirt freshman, which means his breakthrough is pretty impressive on the conveyor belt that is the Wisconsin OL. A consensus four-star recruit—actually a consensus top-100 recruit—and Army All-American, Voltz has upside in spades that he's already begun delivering on. Phil Steele has him on his All Big Ten list, and he is on the very exclusive Rimington Watch List, which only has about 60 of the nation's 120 centers on it.

And for my final Wisconsin lineman, I'll take...

Dammit, Ace. You have no respect for what I'm trying to do here.

I thought about Rutgers' Keith Lumpkin, who pushed Kaleb Johnson down to guard, but when I watched the Wrecking Ball video he seemed slow out of his stance, and then I got depressed about potentially relying on a Rutgers offensive lineman.

Instead, I'll take Iowa's Andrew Donnal. Donnal has been injury-plagued throughout his career, but was a highly touted recruit. He had just broken through as a starter during his sophomore year when he tore virtually every ligament in his knee and broke his tibia, to add injury to injury. Two plays later, Scherff went down and the Iowa run game curled into a ball and died. Once he recovered from that horrific injury, 2013 Donnal was a frequently-used utility man who played all across the line as Iowa rotated extensively.

He enters his senior year as the sure bookend for Scherff, and he retains the size and flexibility that made him a coveted recruit. Draft Insider projected him as a fifth-rounder before last season ("Large, powerful guard who dominates opponents. Showed flashes as a sophomore in 2012 and comes with a large upside.") As a bonus, it'll be harder to doink him in the head now that he's a tackle.

[After THE JUMP: The SHOCK TWIST to END THE DRAFT you will NEVER RECOVER FROM!]

INTERLUDE

BISB: Let's see what our good friends at Black Heart Gold Pants had to say after last season about your starting right tackle:

Andrew Donnal, LG. Five years in, and the jury's still out on Donnal. He's probably too tall to play guard -- he's listed at 6'7, and you don't want a guy on the interior line who gets in the way of your quarterback's vision -- but he's also not solid enough as a tackle to play anywhere else. He plays high, and he plays without leverage, and he's frequently outmaneuvered by speed rushers. There's a possibility that Iowa puts him at right tackle this year and moves Ward to the interior line, but that doesn't look particularly likely.

Rave reviews, those. Before they put Donnal at RT out of absolute necessity, people who watch Iowa regularly didn't think he was even going to play tackle. Because they've seen him play tackle. And being 6'7" doesn't automatically make one a tackle.

Also, you transposed a number in the statistics accompanying your latest installment of ON WISCONSIN WOOOOT; they rushed 45 times vs. BYU, not 54. But even with that change, it's worth noting that they averaged about 7.0 YPC in games Voltz didn't start, and 6.2 YPC in games he didn't start. And that 6.2 YPC was basically "4.9 YPC, plus we get to play Indiana." A major or troubling dropoff? No. But a dropoff nonetheless.Also, Wisconsin is trying to kill us all, so at some point your draft strategy is just contributing to a cheese-covered zombie apocalypse.

SETH: I don't know about you, guys, but I'm SO RELIEVED that recruiting hype alone for an offensive lineman means he's going to be good despite anything you might have seen on the field till now.

BISB: Seth, I've put a lot of chips of my football fandom on the idea that offensive line hype ALWAYS PANS OUT. Of course, in this case there may be an intervening factor in that Donnal's leg became a poorly played game of Jenga not so long ago.

BRIAN: You guys need to stop fronting like you know one damn thing about Pat Elflein or Jake Cotton. I understand this is a protests-too-much defense mechanism as you survey your rosters (Kenny Bell! Christian Jones! FEEL THE SIX YARD CATCH ON THIRD AND TEN!) but the obviousness of it is sad. I have confidence that Donnal will put in a good shift as a senior; he's unchallenged as the starter and is still catching up after some issues with his health. And I don't believe that BHGP knows much about their OL:

They mocked me when I took Hageman, too.

/pets cat

BISB: Did they laugh when you took Scheelhaase? I'm guessing the laughed when you took Scheelhaase.

But I know for a fact that I've watched more snaps of Elflein at guard (every snap of two full games) than you did of Donnal at tackle. Because he's a guard. I don't think he's a terrible football player; ALL members of the Donnal family are SUPER AWESOME AND WILL BRING GREAT GLORY UPON THEIR ANCESTORS THIS SEASON. In fact, I considered taking him instead of Epping... again, at guard. Because he's a guard. I look at your offensive line and see a right tackle playing left tackle and a guard playing right tackle. This is sub-optimal.

BRIAN: I had to take somebody because of my own stupid rules.

ROUND 25 - PICK 2: Will Likely, CB/KR/PR, Maryland

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O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), WR Tony Jones (NW), SLOT Levern Jacobs (MD), SLOT/RB Dontre Wilson (OSU), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), C Chad Lindsay (OSU), RG Jordan Walsh (IA), RT Tyler Marz (WI)

D: WDE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), SDE Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), CB Darian Hicks (MSU), NICKEL Will Likely (MD) S John Lowdermilk (IA), S Jarrod Wilson (U-M), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)

ST: K/P Brad Craddock (MD), KR Dontre Wilson (OSU), PR Will Likely (MD)

ACE: I know, I know, drape me in that ridiculous flag already. But while Maryland may not have enough talent across the board to contend in the Big Ten this year, they certainly have some promising players.

Will Likely certainly qualifies, and if he wasn't 5'7", he'd have been selected long before now. Despite his diminutive stature, he earned four-star ratings out of high school from both Rivals (which put him at #203 overall) and ESPN. At The Opening, he was one of the top cover corners in attendance. ESPN loved his all-around game and versatility:

If you want to find Likely on film, just look for the ball. Whether it's on offense, defense or special teams, he has knack for being around the football and making the big play. He lacks height and length, but he's muscular, plays bigger and competes on the field like he's twice his size. He's very smart and instinctive with a feel for play development. His reads, reactions and anticipation skills are at a premium level. He is very versatile as well. He's utilized all over the defensive backfield from a scheme standpoint -- cornerback, nickel and even some snaps at safety.

As a true freshman last season, injuries to both Maryland starting corners in the first couple weeks of the season thrust Likely into the role of #1 corner, and a later injury to Stefon Diggs made him the team's top punt returner. He exceeded expectations in both roles, and he's now poised for a breakout sophomore year:

There's no reason to think Likely won't improve next season and be among the best defensive backs in the B1G. He'll always be somewhat limited by his size, but he plays like a player 4 inches taller. He's fast, explosive, fundamentally sound and a joy to watch. Although he probably can't yet be considered a "ball hawk" in terms of interceptions, he always seems to be around the ball and making plays, leading the Terps in deflected passes last season.

Likely's biggest impact might be as a return man. He's a threat to score every time a team is silly enough to kick inbounds. He only had one TD last season, albeit a big on, and I'd put money on him getting a few more this year.

Likely averaged just under 13 yards per punt return and exactly 26 yards per kickoff return; that latter figure was 3.5 yards better than Diggs' mark, the former nearly three yards better than Diggs' average as a freshman (he only returned two punts last season). His punt return touchdown against Virginia Tech was damn impressive. He also made a heck of a play for his first career interception, running a Syracuse receiver's slant for him anddiving for the pick.

I strongly considered taking Likely over Darian Hicks, but I was worried about pairing him with another undersized corner in Desmond King. As a nickel corner, however, he fits this team ideally, and now I no longer have to act like Ameer Abdullah is a viable punt returner even though he hasn't been used in that role since he took over for Rex Burkhead at running back. Nor do I have to pretend that Earnest Thomas III can line up over the slot on passing downs, which is probably the more important thing here. Instead, I can unleash Thomas as a rover-type against running spreads—oh, hey, Brian and BiSB—and then put one of the conference's most promising cover corners out there on passing downs.

Likely also provides insurance in case the Hicks gamble doesn't work out, and he's a pretty solid run defender in his own right: he recorded 4.5 TFLs last year, an impressive number for any corner, let alone a 5'7" one. That was three more than BiSB's Terrapin strong safety, Sean Davis. This move improves my pass defense, shores up concern that Hicks not panning out will doom my team, and gives my squad another explosive return man.

ROUND 25 - PICK 3 - Mike Sadler, P, MSU

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THESE ARE THE WAGES OF PUNTING

O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU), RB Tevin Coleman (IU),  WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), WR Deon Long (MD), TE Tyler Kroft (RU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU), OG Zac Epping (MN) C Austin Blythe (Iowa)

D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DT Willie Henry (UM), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), LB Kevin Snyder (RU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU), S Sean Davis (MD), HSP RJ Williamson (MSU)

ST: P Mike Sadler (MSU), Bell (KR), Peppers (PR)

BISB: Seeing as I am apparently the only one who respects the sanctity of the PUNTER in a draft of the BIG TEN, I'll go ahead and take the best of a rather deep group of punters. Sadler led the country in punts downed inside the 10 yard line last year with 24, and despite kicking into short fields as often as he did he's third among returning punters with a 42.5 yard average. He was a Ray Guy semifinalist. He also averages 18 yards per carry in his career, and regularly interacts with Faux Bo Pelini on Twitter. And he did all of despite suffering a tendon injury with four games left that required off-season surgery.

But again, and I can't emphasize this enough, THIS IS THE BIG TEN AND WE PUNT LIKE RABBITS IN THE BIG TEN. Also, being all "Australians can all punt so what's the difference" is racist. Some are just regular kangaroo-loving, Paul-Hogan-imitating, toilet-water-flushing-the-wrong-way placekickers.

It's weird that Ace thinks his team will turn it over so much that he'll never have to punt--Connor Cook may not be able to move the ball, but the guy holds onto it so well that MSU managed to punt 76 times last year. Why you snarkin' yourself Ace?

Brian's ideal offense, clock-killing Wisconsin, had 53. Ohio State had 49. Indiana opponents punted 44 times. The difference between the best offense any of us came up with (BiSB's probably, now that my dynamic duo was split up) and Ace's defense is still probably less than that between Ohio State last year and an average Big Ten defense.

/looks at that back 7 again.

Probably.

My point: even if we're all following Mathlete's "football helmet" when-to-punt chart there's going to be at least 50 plays where 30-40 yards of field position are riding on the expertise of the "don't screw this up" rate of our punters. Let's not over-adjust to the Zook factor of college football coaches, especially in a league with lots of questionable offensive lineman opposite buckets of 1st day NFL draft picks.

ROUND 25 - PICK 4: Jesse James, TE, Penn State
ROUND 26 - PICK 1: MacGarrett Kings, WR, Michigan State

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Big, little. Little, big.

O: QB Nate Sudfeld (Ind), QB 404 NOT FOUND, RB Venric Mark (NW), RB Corey Clement (Wis), WR Devin Smith (OSU), WR Christian Jones (NW), WR Macgarrett Kings (MSU), TE Jesse James (PSU), LT Jason Spriggs, LG Jake Cotton (Neb), (Ind), C Brandon Vitable (NW), RG Jack Allen (MSU), RT Taylor Decker (OSU).

D: DE Randy Gregory (Neb), DE Marcus Rush (MSU), DT Michael Bennett (OSU), NT Warren Herring (Wis), MLB Taiwan Jones (MSU), WLB Steve Longa (Rut), SAM Ed Davis (MSU), HSP Michael Caputo (Wis), SS Corey Cooper (Neb), FS Adrian Amos (PSU), CB Blake Countess (Mich), CB Eric Murray (Minn)

ST: PK/P Matt Wile (Mich), KR/PR Venric Mark (NW)

I tried to call in some help from the Penn State folk on which of the three excellent TEs to take. Do I want the one who was all-conference as a freshman and slowed by an elbow injury last year? What about the 5-star Michigan was after so hard, who had an ACL and then a knee thing again this spring, but had TDs in PSU's last three games?

They're really high on Breneman. For what I'm doing here, give me Jesse "The Size of LeBron" James. Reason 1: He was the most productive receiver among them last season, with 333 yards on 25 targets. Because Hackenberg did little else but throw to A-Rob, that is second on the team. Reason 2: I want touchdowns. My offense is all about forcing you to defend the entire field, width and length. But when that gets compressed, I need a weapon to seal the deal. Here's 6'6"/257 Jesse James sealing a deal against early 3rd round draft pick Dezmen Southward.

A huge dude who can run perfect fade in the back of the endzone or shove the EMLOS out of it is an unfair thing for a redzone offense to possess.

It's not just a red zone weapon. Now that everybody's scouted some awful safeties, we're all agreed that Corey Cooper is a good one. Here's Cooper going to shove a guy out of bounds and too late realizing he should have brought the elephant gun.

Can he block? Frank Clark ate him up for a sack, but Clark was beating Donovan Smith regularly that night as well. Here's a two-play sequence where a nicely run route, catch, and orbital beats James Ross for 11 yards on 2nd and 10, quickly followed by an uptempo run where James smoothly erased Ojemudia to open a 12-yard run.

I would also like a slot receiver. Qualifications: good hands, runs routes well, has some shake to get around a guy in space, and has the speed to get away. So Kings. Judging a slot receiver in Michigan State's offense is difficult because they almost never throw laterally, or to someone not set up by play-action. Among exceptions were that time Connor Cook put one right in a Stanford player's chest only for it to bounce off that guy and into King's hands for a critical first down

Sigh.

While we're agreed that anything that touches Connor Cook is automatically less exciting, after surviving clunk-fest '12 the Spartans around me were pretty stoked about Kings. He materialized from nowhere--our previews thought he was an RB, but after 94 yards on 5 catches against Iowa's pass D people were taking him more seriously. Because of who was throwing to him, Kings was taking a lot of wobbly slant passes and balls thrown behind him on crossing routes. He was just a sophomore last year, and he was an RB/slot in an offense that couldn't pass in high school, so there's upside left.

He was actually State's preferred option on 3rd and long, the recipient of 20 such targets to Tony Lippett's 13. This is how teams get to 76 punts. Here's a reel of Kings doing receiver-y things.

He appears to be more a poor man's Jeremy Gallon than a slot jitterbug, which is fine since Venric Mark can already that for me [Update: FML]. I see a crazy-good burst of acceleration and great body control that allows him to bring in passes that you wouldn't expect 5'11 dudes to get to. But like Gallon, once he's used up the nitro-boots the top speed is catchable. In my offense he will be able to operate the suite of slot WR tricks--bubbles, H-options, plus the regular receiver routes--and get me close to the end zone.

And there's my team. A defense that's solid all around pocked by awesome playmakers, and ... [everybody gets injured or transfers] oh screw.

VERY PERSONAL AND MEAN INTERLUDE

ACE: Connor Cook, 2013 yards per attempt in conference play: 7.7
Nade Sudfeld: 7.0

Sudfeld had Cody Latimer, a second-round pick, and Kofi Hughes, who signed a free agent deal with the Texans, in addition to steady slot bug Shane Wynn, in an offense designed to be a f***ing laser show. Michigan State had Bennie Fowler, #1 receiver, in an offense co-coordinated by Jim Bollman. I'll post this chart again for convenience:

Seriously, Seth, you're the worst trash talker I've ever encountered.

SETH: Ace, Ace, Ace, this is why you should read The Only Colors, not Spartan Tailgate, because they too have subscribed to the "STOP TREATING SACKS AS RUSHES" theory of statistical keeping. Cook's "just eat it" strategy plays well until you count being a scared rabbit against scared rabbits. Then you get this chart:

Player Team PA (Adj) P Yds (Adj) YPA TD Rate TO Rate
Tre Roberson Indiana 139 1079 7.8 9.0% 2.7%
Nate Sudfeld Indiana 338 2400 7.1 6.1% 2.6%
Devin Gardner Michigan 379 2614 6.9 6.3% 3.2%
Caleb Rowe Maryland 136 933 6.9 3.3% 3.0%
Braxton Miller Ohio State 276 1879 6.8 8.5% 2.8%
Christian Hackenberg Penn State 413 2810 6.8 5.4% 2.8%
Joel Stave Wisconsin 352 2388 6.8 6.1% 4.1%
C.J. Brown Maryland 303 2046 6.8 5.9% 2.5%
Tommy Armstrong Jr. Nebraska 135 891 6.6 5.6% 5.1%
Connor Cook Michigan State 396 2610 6.6 5.1% 1.7%
Jake Rudock Iowa 360 2330 6.5 5.6% 3.4%
Trevor Siemian Northwestern 315 2032 6.5 3.2% 2.9%
Gary Nova Rutgers 328 1979 6.0 5.4% 4.7%
Mitch Leidner Minnesota 91 528 5.8 5.6% 2.8%
Danny Etling Purdue 298 1469 4.9 3.4% 2.8%

Yeah, gimme that efficiency of Tommy Armstrong baby!

ACE: You are confusing vast differences in offensive philosophy for differences in ability, unless you actually believe that Indiana had the two best quarterbacks in the Big Ten last year. Please, make that argument. Please.

Also, thanks for not linking to the actual article, which shows that Cook is a viable-enough running threat at 3.8 sack-adjusted yards per carry. With Ameer Adbullah, Dontre Wilson, and Levern Jacobs also out there, good luck accounting for the quarterback and still guarding Devin Funchess.

BISB: Seth, you hit on one of the problems with James. I know we're operating in the magical fantasy world where he's playing on YOUR team instead of Penn State's team and quarterbacks never ever ever ever transfer unexpectedly. But James is one of three tight ends that Penn State will be deploying this fall. Breneman was just recovering from an injury, and Kyle Carter was hampered late.

I don't know how many TE targets there are to be had, but divide them by three and you're not gonna have a good time. And there may not be that many targets to go around. Penn State TEs caught 60 passes last year. Do you know how many passes Vanderbilt TEs caught in James Franklin's three years as head coach? 52. Total.

Round 26 (HUZZAH!) - PICK 2 - Cameron Johnston, P/K, Ohio State

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eleven warriors

O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU), RB Tevin Coleman (IU),  WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), WR Deon Long (MD), TE Tyler Kroft (RU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU), OG Zac Epping (MN) C Austin Blythe (Iowa)

D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DT Willie Henry (UM), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), LB Kevin Snyder (RU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU), S Sean Davis (MD), HSP RJ Williamson (MSU)

ST: P Mike Sadler (MSU), P/K Cameron Johnston (OSU), Bell (KR), Peppers (PR)

BISB: Because we have apparently forgotten the fundamental truth that punting is not just a part of the Big Ten, punting IS the Big Ten, and because the two "punters" selected aren't going to, you know, PUNT this year, I feel it is my duty to give the readers what they ask - nay, CLAMOR - for: more punting. Cameron Johnston led the Big Ten in average at 44 yards per punt and was a Ray Guy semifinalist. He punts well. Therefore, he is B1G.

What's that? I'm supposed to take a kicker? Fine. He's my kicker. He's an Aussie, so he can just kick whatever shaped ball however we say to. He can then whip me up some vegemite and survive in a land of terribly poisonous creatures. Right, Ace? And if not, we'll just go without a place kicker. Two-point conversions aren't that much different statistically, field goals suck, and we'll just pooch or onside kick every time. Aussies should be good at that.

(This is also a bit of a commentary on the placekicking situation in the Big Ten. Of the remaining kickers, the best statistically is Illinois' Taylor Zelewski, who was 12 of 17, followed by Sam Ficken at 15 of 23 and a bunch of other terrible kickers in competition with other terrible kickers on their respective teams to be the terrible starting kicker on those teams.)

And there you have it. The most complete team in the draft (other than, ya know, the kicker thing). I have the best defense front-to-back, with playmakers at every level and with no glaring weaknesses (cough cough the middle of Brian's secondary and Ace's linebackers). I have a solid (if young) offensive line, talent (and PRODUCTIVE talent) from every one of my skill players, and a talented and statistically impressive 5th year senior at quarterback.

WE DID IT!!! WE DID IT!!!

ROUND 26 - PICK 3: Quinton Alston, MLB, Iowa

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O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), WR Tony Jones (NW), SLOT Levern Jacobs (MD), SLOT/RB Dontre Wilson (OSU), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), C Chad Lindsay (OSU), RG Jordan Walsh (IA), RT Tyler Marz (WI)

D: WDE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), SDE Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), WLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), MLB Quinton Alston (IA), SLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), CB Darian Hicks (MSU), NICKEL Will Likely (MD) S John Lowdermilk (IA), S Jarrod Wilson (U-M), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)

ST: K/P Brad Craddock (MD), KR Dontre Wilson (OSU), PR Will Likely (MD)

ACE: This is a bit of guesswork about which of these inside linebackers will thrive the most this fall:

  • Ohio State senior Curtis Grant finally earned a starting job last year after coming in with five-star hype. He underwhelmed, and likely would've lost his job to Mike Mitchell, but Mitchell transferred to Texas Tech in the offseason to be closer to his family. Buckeye fans are already hoping the next five-star phenom, freshman Raekwon McMillian, can unseat Grant this fall. Pass.
  • One of Wisconsin's pair of new starting inside linebackers (they run a 3-4), seniors Derek Landisch and Marcus Trotter, both of whom performed well in limited time last season. Wisconsin lost all of their starting linebackers and four of their top six defensive linemen, however, so even if one of these guys is worthy of filling Chris Borland's shoes, there's a decent chance he's too busy eating offensive lineman to show it off. Pass and pass.
  • The Immortal Cole Farrand. Despite my apparent Maryland bias... pass.
  • Iowa senior Quinton Alston, who'll man the middle as Iowa replaces their three outstanding linebackers from 2013, including four-year starting MLB James Morris. As you can see, I went with this option.

Why Alston? I'd like some upside here, and Grant is what he is at this point. Wisconsin having to rebuild their entire front seven scares me off from nabbing a guy from that group. Maryland's success up front is more due to their outside linebackers and defensive linemen than the inside 'backers.

Then there's Iowa, which boasted a top-15 rushing defense by just about any measure last season. While they have to replace all of their starting linebackers, they won't be totally inexperienced at that group—a senior, Alston, will be flanked by a junior (Travis Perry) and a sophomore (Reggie Spearman) who both got playing time when it was available last year. Meanwhile, they return five of their top six linemen, including arguably the best DT pairing in the conference, so the linebackers will get plenty of chances to make plays. After being the first off the bench last year, Alston is the unquestioned leader of the new group of linebackers.

Instead of taking a player who may be more proven but hasn't produced at a high level, I'll go with a player who could very well break into the all-conference conversation as a senior first-year starter—with very good reason why he didn't start earlier—on a very good defense. While I think my team looks really good, thanks, on paper before the season, I believe they'll look even better when all is said and done.

ROUND 26, PICK 4…

BRIAN: Hmmmm… looks like I've got a punter to draft here… these are the draftageddon rules after all. Hmm… but WAIT! Wait just a second here.

image

I seem to already have one. Mooohahaha. Now I can fulfill another draftageddon rule.

KYLE PRATER, WR, NORTHWESTERN

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shot DEFINITELY NOT from high school

O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), RB Melvin Gordon (WI), RB/WR Josh Fergusion (UI), WR Stefon Diggs (MD), WR Tony Lippett (MSU), WR Kyle Prater (NW), TE Jeff Heuerman (OSU), OT Rob Havenstein(WI), G Kyle Costigan(WI), G Dallas Lewallen(WI), C Dan Voltz (WI), Andrew Donnal (IA)

D: DE Frank Clark(M), DE Therien Cockran (MN), DT Darius Hamilton(RU), DT Carl Davis(IA), LB Desmond Morgan(M), LB James Ross(M), CB Trae Waynes (MSU), CB Jordan Lucas (PSU), CB/HSP Doran Grant (OSU), S Ibraheim Campbell (NW), S Traveon Henry (NW)

ST: K Michael Geiger (MSU), P/QB Christian Hackenberg (PSU), PR/KR Stefon Diggs(MD)

YES! YES! YES! YES! With the final pick in the draft I've secured a 6'5" manbeast, the #3 recruit in his class, a "Julio Jones type" who should have the "same impact at the next level as Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Michael Floyd or DeAndre Brown" did.

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE INTERVENING FOUR YEARS BEHIND THE CURTAIN! Pay no attention to the 20 catches in the 3 years since his transfer to Northwestern; pay no attention to the fact that he's slipped behind any boring guy named Jones that the Wildcats convince to stop vending hotdogs and start catching passes. Pay no attention to anything except the fact that I have Kyle Prater and am thus saving all of us from violating a rule of Draftageddon and unleashing the Four Draftahorsemen upon all of us: Draftadeath, Draftawar, Draftapestilence, and Stephen DraftA Smith. Lo, whether or not my fictional assemblage of Big Ten players is adjudged to be better than my competitors, you all owe me your lives!

RULES INSERTION

Since it's dumb that sometimes guys get knocked out before the season, we are instituting supplemental picks for anyone who is lost for the year before the last couple weeks of August. That has hit Seth, with Trey Roberson's transfer, and Brian, with Michael Rose's ACL tear. Supplemental picks are issued; they can be anyone as long as they make your team fit and are issued in the same order the lost players were picked in.

SUPPLEMENTAL: C.J. Brown, QB, Maryland

pick granted to Seth for transfer of Roberson

O: QB Nate Sudfeld (Ind), QB C.J. Brown (Md), RB Venric Mark (NW), RB Corey Clement (Wis), WR Devin Smith (OSU), WR Christian Jones (NW), WR Macgarrett Kings (MSU), TE Jesse James (PSU), LT Jason Spriggs (Ind), LG Jake Cotton (Neb), (Ind), C Brandon Vitabile (NW), RG Jack Allen (MSU), RT Taylor Decker (OSU).

D: WDE Randy Gregory (Neb), SDE Marcus Rush (MSU), 3T Michael Bennett (OSU), NT Warren Herring (Wis), MLB Taiwan Jones (MSU), WLB Steve Longa (Rut), SAM Ed Davis (MSU), HSP Michael Caputo (Wis), SS Corey Cooper (Neb), FS Adrian Amos (PSU), CB Blake Countess (Mich), CB Eric Murray (Minn)

ST: PK/P Matt Wile (Mich), KR/PR Venric Mark (NW)

136102349[1]

SETH: In 2012 I got Denard Robinson and thought myself pretty special until that nerve injury turned my only QB into a seldom-used running back. This year we couldn't make it to the end of the draft without Tre Roberson scampering off to party with some Marines (right before we're about to go on Ed Sullivan. Who does that?!?). I spoke with Brian, and admissions, and got an NCAA waiver to pick up Wolfman, i.e. 6th year senior option savant C.J. (son of last-time-they-were-good MSU quarterback Clark...) Brown. Can he play our stuff?

What makes C.J. Brown really special is his ability to run the ball from the quarterback position. Everyone can see his speed and agility, but what makes him such a threat is his decision-making ability. The read-option is a popular play in football nowadays, but many people don’t realize what an important part the “read” part of the play is. Many quarterbacks struggle making the correct read of the opposing defense’s defensive end or linebacker, resulting in missed opportunities for their offense. But C.J. Brown is one of the best quarterbacks in the country at reading the team’s option plays and making the correct decisions.

Since the NFL ignored it until recently, Brown is probably one of only a handful of guys in America to run an option offense for six years. He's been doing it so long that the Maryland coach he committed to was James Franklin. Maryland isn't an up-tempo offense—they're around Ohio State/Notre Dame speed, i.e. average—but I'm banking a guy Jordan Morgan's age can handle That Thing We Do.

Maryland fans say he's Devin Gardner Lite, by which they mean a big dude with gazelle speed that's most often applied to inverted veers and running for his life. Last year's sack-adjusted stats attest to the Gardnerness:

Player Ht Wt YPA YPC YPP PassRate TDRate TORate
Devin Gardner 6'4 218 6.9 6.3 6.8 74.3% 6.3% 3.2%
C.J. Brown 6'3 216 6.8 6.5 6.7 71.8% 5.9% 2.5%

(Since it's at least established that they're both dual-threats with generally similar run/pass ratios, I'm going to stop making distinctions now between rush/pass attempts/yards/TDs.)

Fewer scores, a lot fewer turnovers. Like Gardner, Brown had some nice receiving targets but found it difficult to pass to them with a god-awful OL. You can claim Locksley used him better than Borges did Devin, but how much credit do you give someone whose coordinating bona fides start, "When I coached Juice Williams..."

Since Ace is doing the peepee dance to point out what's wrong with that comparison, here's Ace pointing out what's wrong with that comparison, from his HTTV preview:

C.J. Brown posted an 8.0 YPA with 13 passing touchdowns to seven interceptions in 2013 while adding 576 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. The numbers look good, though the competition wasn’t always fierce; Brown struggled mightily against Florida State before leaving the game with an injury, and he missed the entirety of Maryland’s games against Clemson and Virginia.

Ace is right: Devin Gardner Lite =/= Devin Gardner. The only common opponent was UConn, whom Gardner (3.8 YPP) struggled against and Brown (9.1 YPP) eviscerated, but that only reminds us that Gardner, like Brown, could be maddeningly inconsistent. Here's a comparison of the two vs. the kind of top-25-ish defenses we're deploying:

Player Opponent Att(R+P) Yds TDs INTs YPP TD/Int  
C.J. Brown FSU/VT/Marsh/WF 140 679 5 4 4.9 1.3  
Devin Gardner MSU/Iowa/ND 129 650 7 2 5.0 3.5  

SI in its postseason review talked about how Brown can hit intermediate things very well but his deep balls sail (so: Connor Cook but fast and doesn't take forever to make decisions?). SI also kicked C.J. for being bad in the 4th quarter (so: not Connor Cook). As to that I'll point you back to Ace's article on the dropping efficacy of human beings as their brain functions shift to survival mode. The apparent drop in production when he returned from the concussion could be explained by "The guy had a concussion!"—when you put the inconsistency in chronological order the progression goes awesome-concussion-awful-beat Virginia Tech.

Like Gardner there's upside behind a competent offensive line (oh yeah I have that), but I am not going to claim I’m getting something equivalent to the 2nd overall pick. What I am getting is a dual-threat quarterback who's proven very adept at option reads, thus a satisfactory drop-in replacement Roberson in the spread'n shred package I plan to run 30% of the time.

At the end of the year he'll probably have some nice passing stats from tossing the ball to a bunch of great receivers I didn't get, and I'll get into an argument with Ace about who deserves credit for them, which argument will end with videos of Kaleb Johnson getting beat. Or my luck with drafting quarterbacks could hold and I'll wind up with the fifth-best receiver in the Caleb Rowe offense.

SUPPLEMENTAL: Joe Bolden, LB, Michigan

pick granted to Brian for Michael Rose's ACL tear

Bolden-vs-ND[1]

O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), RB Melvin Gordon (WI), RB/WR Josh Fergusion (UI), WR Stefon Diggs (MD), WR Tony Lippett (MSU), WR Kyle Prater (NW), TE Jeff Heuerman (OSU), OT Rob Havenstein(WI), G Kyle Costigan(WI), G Dallas Lewallen(WI), C Dan Voltz (WI), Andrew Donnal (IA)

D: DE Frank Clark(M), DE Therien Cockran (MN), DT Darius Hamilton(RU), DT Carl Davis(IA), LB Desmond Morgan(M), LB James Ross(M), LB Michael Rose (NEB), LB Joe Bolden(M), CB Trae Waynes (MSU), CB Jordan Lucas (PSU), CB/HSP Doran Grant (OSU), S Ibraheim Campbell (NW), S Traveon Henry (NW)

ST: K Michael Geiger (MSU), P/QB Christian Hackenberg (PSU), PR/KR Stefon Diggs(MD)

BRIAN: This post is already 7.5 k words so no one is reading this and I'll make it brief: I'm probably going to have to eat a lemon when Bolden starts over a guy already on my team, Desmond Morgan. Displacing the very solid Morgan, who would be a three-year starter this fall, is an impressive feat.

Coaches and teammates have been absolutely raving about him, and while I'm still a bit skeptical after I watched Bolden make a lot of mistakes last year I have to give up in the face of this torrent of hype.

Both he and Morgan will both play a lot, and they're fine as ILBs with Ross as a SAM in the over I'm apparently running so, yeah, it's a fit.

TRUMPETS. IT ENDS.

By position:

  BRIAN ACE BRYAN SETH
SKILL
QB Braxton Miller, OSU Connor Cook, MSU Devin Gardner, M Indiana QB
RB Melvin Gordon, WI Ameer Abdullah, NEB Jeremy Langford, MSU Venric Mark, NW
TE Jeff Heuerman, OSU Maxx Williams, MN Tyler Kroft, RU Jesse James, PSU
WR Stefon Diggs, MD Devin Funchess, MI Kenny Bell, NEB Devin Smith, OSU
WR Josh Ferguson, ILL Levern Jacobs, MN Shane Wynn, IU Christian Jones, NW
WR Tony Lippett, MSU Tony Jones, NW Long, MD MacGarrett Kings, MSU
??? Kyle Prater, NW Dontre Wilson, OSU Tevin Coleman, IU Corey Clement, WI
??? Christian Hackenberg, PSU     CJ Brown, MD
OFFENSIVE LINE
OT Andrew Donnal, IA Brandon Scherff, IA Donovan Smith, PSU Spriggs, IU
OG Kyle Costigan, WI Kaleb Johnson, RU Pat Elflein, OSU Cotton, NEB
OC Dan Voltz, WI Chad Lindsay, OSU Austin Blythe, IA Brandon Vitable, NW
OG Dallas Lewallen, WI Jordan Walsh, IA Zac Epping, MN Allen, MSU
OT Robbie Havenstein, WI Tyler Marz, WI Jack Conklin, MSU Tyler Decker, OSU
DEFENSIVE LINE
DE Theirien Cockran, MN Shilique Calhoun, MSU Joey Bosa, OSU Randy Gregory, NEB
DT Carl Davis, IA Monroe, MD Trinca-Pasat, IA Bennett, OSU
DT Darius Hamilton, RU Darius Kilgo, MD Willie Henry, OSU Warren Herring, WI
DE Frank Clark, M Adolphus Washington, OSU Noah Spence, OSU Marcus Rush, MSU
LINEBACKER
LB Desmond Morgan, M Chi Chi Ariguzo, NW Jake Ryan, M Taiwan Jones, MSU
LB James Ross, M Robinson, MD Hull, PSU Steve Longa, RU
LB Joe Bolden, M Quinton Alston, IA Snyder, RU Ed Davis, MSU
CB Jordan Lucas, PSU King, IA Sojourn Shelton, WI Blake Countess, M
CB Trae Waynes, MSU Darian Hicks, MSU Jabrill Peppers, MI Eric Murray, MN
HSP Doran Grant, OSU Earnest Thomas, ILL RJ Williamson, MSU Mike Caputo, WI
S Ibraheim Campbell, NW Lowdermilk, IA Kurtis Drummond, MSU Corey Cooper, NEB
S Traeveon Henry, NW Jarrod Wilson, MI Davis, MD Adrian Amos, PSU
BONUS   Will Likely, MD    
SPECIAL TEAMS
K Geiger, MSU Brad Craddock, MD Cameron Johnston, OSU Matt Wile, M
P Christian Hackenberg, PSU Craddock Mike Sadler, MSU Wile
PR Ferguson Likely Peppers Mark
KR Diggs Wilson Bell Mark

 

Comments

ST3

August 13th, 2014 at 7:28 PM ^

Not really, I mostly skimmed through the Maryland and Rutgers players, and the punters, and the defensive backs, and the tight ends...

m1jjb00

August 13th, 2014 at 9:53 PM ^

To see how much stars matter. Brian has 3 absolute studs and heuerman on offense but the rest of the receiving corps is uninspiring. And his line is 4th of 4. Bisb save himself on offense with coleman, otherwise he'd have no playmakers. I like his d the a lot. Ace has a few reaches that might work but i dont think are the safe bets (wilson, hicks, alston). Seth? Ignoring his nw fiasco today im still not hgih on the offense he put together despite trying to have a coherent spread team. Id take seths playbook and play brian's team. On defense though i dont see any holes though i would have taken latham ( ind) and his upside rather than herring

Ron Utah

August 14th, 2014 at 3:25 PM ^

The final rosters are in.  There's nothing left to do but over-analyze and project with great confidence and what is likely to be only moderate accuracy.

As promised, my plan is to do an imanginary round robin where the teams all play each other to decide who is the GCMVA (Grand Champion of my valueless approval).  Here is the trophy:

                                           

Let's get to it.

Game 1: Brian vs. Ace

Brian has, without question, the best offensive skill players.  He also has a strong O-Line...on one side.  The weaknesses on his team are the right side of his O-Line, his safeties are the worst of the four teams, and his LBs are (and it pains me to say this) just solid.  His DL is pretty darn good, with excellent interior players and reliable if not spectacular DEs.  Without question, Brian has the best CBs.  He the best kicker and the worst punter, and very good returners.

Ace's team has, I believe, the best offense.  Connor Cook is an efficient QB, and Abdullah, Maxxxxxx, and Funchess are all big-time playmakers.  Jacobs, Jones, and Wilson are legitimate threats if the defense is focusing on the aforementioned game-breakers.  And his offensive line is very good, if not the best of the bunch.  Ace's defense is very, very good up front, but I believe it's the worst secondary in terms of play-making ability...there are a total of 4 INTs among his six DBs.  Darian Hicks is a projection, but with Narduzzi coaching him, not a bad one.  His LBs are pretty good, but nothing special.  That said, this is a defense that will pressure the QB and penetrate the backfield, and a back seven that's built to stop big plays, even if they don't make big plays.  Ace has no punter, and his returners are just okay, IMO.

The result: Brian 30 - Ace 31

Brian's talent on offense is going to put some points on the board, but Ace's DL is strong enough to stop a few drives with FGs.  On the other hand, while Brian's CBs do a great job limiting Funchess, the U-M LBs have not demonstrated an ability to cover, and they are combined with NW safeties.  Maxx, Jones, Jacobs, and Wilson eat-up yards down the middle of the field, and Abdullah and Ace's O-Line are more than enough to keep Brian's defense honest.

Game 2: BiSB vs. Seth

BiSB has built a team without holes...except he has no kicker.  He has the 2nd most talented QB, a solid group of pass-catchers and blockers at TE and WR, and two very good RBs.  His O-Line is a group of very good players with no weak link, and the ability to move the LOS in the run game.  On defense, his line has playmakers and one question mark (Henry, who does NOT play for OSU), but the buzz surrounding Big Willie has been very good.  His LBs include JMFR, one of the best defensive playmakers in the B1G, and very good OLBs.  Peppers is a huge projection, but has talent, and Shelton is damn good.  Drummond is the best safety in the B1G, and Davis isn't going to miss many tackles.  It's not a sexy team...but it's basically MSU.

Seth found great value in the late rounds in a desperate attempt to make-up for some questionable early decisions.  No one but Seth believes that Sudfeld is a top-tier player, and while CJ Brown is a decent running threat, he's no Miller or even Gardner.  The WRs are lackluster (even if Jones wasn't injured) and Mark, pretending he's still in the B1G, is an injury risk.  His second RB is a back-up projection.  Jesse James, Devin Smith, and Christian Jones will keep you honest, but DCs aren't shaking in their boots.  On defense, half of Seth's line is AMAZING (Gregory and Bennett) and the other half is fine.  I like his LBs quite a bit, and only Brian has better CBs.  His safeties and HSP are, as a group, the best of the bunch.  The Wile pick was smart, because he's at least adequate at both jobs.  Mark is a dangerous returner, when he plays.

The result: BiSB 24 - Seth 20

While I think lots of poster are overrating Brian (because of his very sexy skill players), I think they're underrating Seth.  Seth's team is an attempt at "Indiana but with defense," which is fine, but those super-fast spready types struggle against the MSUs of the world, and that's what BiSB's got.  The score would have been more lopsided, but BiSB's punters missed two FG attempts.

Game 3: Brian 24 - BiSB 21

BiSB's team simply doesn't have the weapons to take advantage of where Brian is weak.  Bell, Wynn, and Long are locked-down by Lucas, Waynes, and Grant.  Kroft has a big game, but he's not good enough to win it on his own, and Langfod and Coleman get yardage, but aren't the receiving threats to take advantage of the LBs or Ss.  Oh, and the punters miss three longer FGAs.  Brian's team can't manufacture a ton of points against BiSB's defense, but in the end having a kicker on his team makes the difference.

Game 4: Ace 41 - Seth 38

What happens when a super-fast spread outfit meets a dominant, moderately-paced offense?  Your defense gets tired.  Seth's team matches-up well with Ace, because Ace's secondary is a bend-but-don't-break outfit that spread teams are happy to get their 6 YPA against all day long.  But cruising down the field for five TDs and facing an offense capable of mauling you or going for the big play, Seth's defense just can't stop Ace's offense.  Countess and Murray are very good players, but neither matches up well against Funchess and will need help over the top.  The constant threat of the deep ball to Funchess and Maxx attacking the seams actually opens opportunities for Abdullah, the 2nd-best back in B1G, and Ace's other complimentary players.

Game 5: Brian 43 - Seth 45

Brian's weakness at LB and S is most evident against Seth's spready outfit.  Brian's CBs can only cover two players, and adding Grant all game helps, but there's still someone open, and that someone could very well be Venric Mark (in theory).  In a close game, Brian's one-sided O-Line can't hold up enough to score the game-winning field goal.

Game 6: Ace 30 - BiSB 28

The game for all the marbles.  BiSB's team actually plays well enough to win, but without a kicker, can't get the points they need.  They move the ball on Ace's secondary, but with zero FGs on the day, Ace pulls out a victory, and the GCMVA award.

Final results:

  1. Ace 3-0
  2. BiSB 1-2
  3. Brian 1-2
  4. Seth 1-2 

In a stunning move that was the opposite of smart, BiSB closed his draft without taking a kicker, and it probably cost him the championship.  Ace's strong offense and boring defense win because of a silly choice by the funny man.

Well done, Ace.