We’re approaching the start of the 2023 season, training camp hype is peaking, and rookie fever is flying high. What better time to turn our attention to the upcoming classes with my top-five Big Ten devy assets?
Marvin Harrison Jr., WR Ohio State
At 6’4″, 205, Harrison is the prototype of the boundary receiver in the NFL. As a true sophomore, Harrison looked like a chip off the old Hall-of-Famer-dad-block, catching 77 receptions for 1,263 yards and 14 TDs, instantly establishing himself as the best receiver currently playing college football.
Marvin Harrison Jr verified numbers…— Full-Time Dame 💰 (@DP_NFL) August 15, 2023
6’4 208 pounds
10-8 broad jump
3.94 short shuttle
Max velocity: 23.5 MPH
Expected to run sub 4.4 in 40
Via the freak list: https://t.co/sRTy8vayA7pic.twitter.com/3m8f6FvFaE
Harrison has the speed to get behind corners, the length to go up and get the ball, and the strength to win in contested situations. Yet what impresses me most in Harrison’s film is his route-running ability; despite his size, he is the most technical route-runner on Ohio State, showing a smoothness in his breaks and consistent hip sink that would be impressive in a player 2″ and 20 lbs. smaller.
Emeka Egbuka, WR Ohio State
In what seems to be a trend these days, the 2023 version of Ohio State will feature not one but two of the most impressive receivers in the college game. At 6’1″, 205 lbs., Egbuka isn’t quite as dominant on the boundary as his teammate Harrison, but he makes up for his shortcomings with impressive run-after-catch ability and elite athleticism.
Posting one Ohio State highlight every day until Ohio State football is back.— JR’s Rankings 🌰🅾️⭕️ (@jrs_rankings) August 13, 2023
A glimpse of the connection Ohio State fans can look forward to between Kyle McCord and Emeka Egbuka if McCord wins the job 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ug6MaCZgvi
While he is half a step behind former teammate (and current Seahawk) Jaxon-Smith Njigba in pure agility, he’s right there with him as a zone killer and a versatile weapon, displaying the ability to win against both zone and man defenses. His 74-1,151-10 stat line from 2022 is impressive, and I expect Egbuka to take flight at the combine as well, landing in the top half of the first round of the 2024 draft.
Nicholas Singleton, RB Penn State.
Penn State continues to add to its long tradition of producing high-level NFL backs with true sophomore Singleton. In his first season in the Nittany Navy, he ran for 1,061 yards and 12 TDs, adding another 85 yards on 11 receptions, and he looked damn good doing it. The 6′, 225 lb. rusher punctuated his season with explosive plays, running through and/or around defenders on his way to 6.8 Y/A and leading his class in YAC/ATT (yards after contact per attempt).
Reportedly, Singleton was timed running a 4.39 40-yard-dash last spring; this would put him in rarified air in terms of athleticism, rivaling or even surpassing the speed of Penn State alum Saquon Barkley and make him one of the most dangerous threats in the NFL from the day he hits the draft. Singleton is no worse than the devy RB3 and has as strong a claim as anyone to the RB1 spot.
Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin
Allen is a mountain of a man at 6’2″, 240 lbs. Over the past two years, he’s established himself as one of the best backs in all of college football, following up an insanely efficient 186 carry, 1,286-yard freshman year with another 1,242 yards and 12 TDs this past season. Oh, and he’s still just 19 years old. He’ll turn 20 just a few months before the 2024 NFL draft.
Braelon Allen is coming off back to back 1200 yard plus seasons and is only 19 years old— Joe O’Leary (@TheHQNerd) August 18, 2023
Freak player at his size
The 2024 Running Back class got some dudes
While he’s likely not a speedster (I’m guessing at a 4.52-ish time from Allen), he’s plenty fast for his size. His one-cut, tackle-shedding rushes and spectacular contact balance will give NFL scouts plenty to drool over this fall. A bonus: while Allen hasn’t yet exceeded 13 catches in a season, he gets an OC upgrade this year in Phil Longo, who coached Javonte Williams to a 25-catch, 1,445-scrimmage-yard season as a junior at North Carolina.
Donovan Edwards, RB Michigan
Am I overlooking Edwards’s backfield mate Blake Corum? I like both players, but I’ve always been higher on Edwards. His bigger frame and obscene pass-catching chops give him the edge, though I believe both players will be drafted next spring.
It’s been a while since there has been a Michigan player with more of a knack for the big play than Donovan Edwards pic.twitter.com/nXTfxsVplc— Colston Connoisseur (@UMvsEveryone) August 21, 2023
Listed at 6’1″, 210 lbs., Edwards has displayed his big-play ability and skill as a downfield receiver since his freshman season. This past fall, in the wake of an injury to Corum, we finally got an extended look at Edwards as a featured back, and oh man, was it good. Edwards closed the season with three 20+ carry counts, netting 216, 185, and 119 yards, respectively, powering Michigan through a win against Ohio State, the Big-10 championship against Purdue, and a close loss to eventual CFP runner-up TCU.
In what looks to be a banger running back class, with more day-two talent than any from the past few years, Edwards brings a unique dual-threat profile that should keep him in the top 100 picks.
What do you think? Am I missing someone here? Would you rather see Drew Allar in the top 5? Let me know your thoughts here, or hit me up on Twitter at @ekballer!
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