Author's Note: Answers for this post were compiled before Venric Mark decided to transfer and the post was written last night before news of Braxton Miller's injury came out. But take all of it as Bill and myself being the smartest staff members.
Our season preview begins with the staff's thoughts on who the best offensive player in the Big Ten will be this year.
Bill - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
One of these days, Wisconsin will stop churning out stud running backs. And one of these days, Wisconsin will stop recruiting gargantuan high schoolers and turning them into amazing offensive lineman. Until then, I will expect that Wisconsin running backs will run for 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns every year. Unlike other Wisconsin RBs -- the ones who just ran over people -- Gordon is an insanely talented RB who may be the most complete back the school has had in eons. He's going to do silly things this year.
Cari - Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
This is all relative. When you're talking about most valuable player to a team's overall offensive productivity, it's arguable that Christian Hackenberg should be in the discussion; but, as much as it pains me, I'm going to have to go with OSU QB Braxton Miller. He's electrifying on the field, and he can make plays through the air and with his feet. With another year under his belt, his decision making will get even better, and I expect him and the Buckeyes to bounce back from a disappointing ending to 2013 and put up monster numbers against almost every defense on their schedule.
Devon - Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Come on, now. Dan, you're really asking this? Braxton Miller is the twice reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and he's improved each season by leaps and bounds. He's quite possibly the most exciting player in all of college football, and if he can stay healthy, he might be the Heisman front-runner. The dude could always move, but now he's developed a better arm than Troy Smith ever had. Braxton's scary good, and that much goes without saying.
bscaff - Venric Mark, no longer the RB at Northwestern
I'm late getting my answers in, which means I now must write a few sentences about someone I don't believe to be the best offensive player, just so I'm not repeating what Devon and Cari wrote. Venric Mark gets my nod over Ameer Abdullah and Jeremy Langford because he returns punts and kicks. He's ahead of Stefon Diggs because Mark doesn't require a Maryland QB to throw him the ball.
Matt - Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
It's gotta be Braxton Miller. Without Hyde, and with 4 new starters on the offensive line, I think OSU is going to rely even more on Miller. Sure, he's not a great passer, but his athletic ability lets Urbz do so much on the offensive side of the ball. His importance to OSU was clouded a bit with a player like Kenny Guiton sitting behind him the last couple seasons. If (when) he gets nicked up this year, the drop off will be noticeable.
Jared - Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Braxton Miller is poised to enter his fourth year as a starting quarterback in the Big Ten, and will leave as one of the all-time greats at a school loaded with legendary players. Miller has improved each year, and with each season comes a more polished overall skillset. He can cause damage with his arm or legs, and nearly always comes through whenever the team needs him the most. He begins the season on everyone's Heisman shortlist for good reason. Also, he's been absolutely phenomenal during the last two outings against Penn State- a trend that will likely continue this fall, much to our collective dismay.
Ryan - Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
I really want to put Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon in this spot, but Miller is going to have more than enough opportunities to convince the nation he's the best player in Big Ten and quite possibly the entire country. It's hard to believe this is his last time around the block, but we're going to witness how great of an athlete Miller is. With Ohio State having to replace four offensive linemen as well as the first 1,000 yard running back under Urban Meyer's tutelage, the big plays are going to come from two places: Braxton Miller's arm or Braxton Miller's feet. The Bucks also have four primetime games already scheduled, so the stage is set for Miller to steal the show.
Dan - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Wisconsin continues to churn out runners that just blow even the best Big Ten defenses away and that trend continues with Melvin Gordon. Gordon, he of 1,609 rushing yards in 2013, is like a freight train speeding off the tracks. He has the power to break tackles and the speed to get around the corner as evidenced by his seven yards per rush last season. There is almost no doubt he'll be just as good, if not better in 2014. Does he rush for 2,000 yards this year? Probably not. But would it surprise anybody? Not in the least.
Braxton Miller - 5
Melvin Gordon - 2
We'll go over our picks for Defensive Player of the Year tomorrow.