Over the past two days, we've taken a look at the best players on either side of the ball in the Big Ten. Today, we look at not the best player, but what player would fill in nicely on Penn State's 2014 squad.
Bill: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Hey know what'd be cool? If Penn State's offensive line featured a terrifying human being who mauls opposing defensive players and gave Christian Hackenberg all the time in the world to throw. Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff is a terrifying human being who mauls opposing defensive players and gives Hawkeyes QB Jake Rudock all the time in the world to throw. I'd love him on Penn State. Having him and Donovan Smith at tackle would make life a lot easier on Hack.
Cari: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
There's no group that's more depleted in 2014 for the Nittany Lions than offensive line, and Brandon Scherff is the best offensive lineman returning in the Big Ten, and it's probably not even close. Kirk Ferentz is known for spotting offensive linemen and turning them into studs, and Scherff was no exception--a 3 star in-state guy who'll likely go in the first round in the 2015 draft. I'd take him in less than a second.
Devon: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Okay, the easy answer is to take a lineman. The far more fun answer is Stefon Diggs. He's one of the most electrifying skill players in the country, and would bring a ton of experience and gamebreaking ability to an untested wide receiving corps. A year of Diggs and Geno Lewis up front would give the younger wideouts a year to develop and learn rather than being thrown into the fire from day one, and no matter how excited we are to see Saeed Blacknall, DeAndre Thompkins, Chris Godwin, and Troy Apke, we really ought to temper our expectations before expecting the next Williams, Butler, Norwood, and King.
bscaff: Ibraheim Campbell or Nick VanHoose, DBs, Northwestern
(...don't repeat a player...don't repeat a player...don't repeat a player...) I'll give you a pair of guys that no one has yet mentioned, and they're in the same defensive backfield. I like jNorthwestern's safety Ibraheim Campbell, and their corner Nick VanHoose. Campbell is as sure a tackler as the Big Ten has, and VanHoose might be the toughest corner in the conference.
Matt: Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan
Scherff at Iowa is an obvious answer, but with Bill and Cari both picking him, I'll go another direction. Michigan LB Jake Ryan missed a big chunk of 2013, but after returning vs. PSU in October, he quickly reestablished himself as one of the top linebackers in the Big 10. Now over a year removed from his ACL injury, I expect him to have a big 2014. That kind of talent at a skeleton thin position at PSU would be more than welcome.
Jared: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Ho-hum, another vote for Scherff. I wanted to put out a unique pick here, but Scherff is too much of the obvious choice here. Penn State will have a young, thin and inexperienced line in 2014. As many good things as we've heard about Andrew Nelson, it's still a little nerve-racking that a redshirt freshman is the expected starter at one of the most important positions on the field heading into the season. Scherff is a dominating presence who should be one of the top players selected in the NFL Draft this May. Plus, the intangibles he brings with his senior leadership would give a young and talented offense a huge boast to prepare them for a season where they will need to learn on the fly for any hopes of a successful season.
Ryan: Joey Bosa, DL, Ohio State
I'm not afraid to admit my affection for Bosa. Ever since I caught a St. Thomas Aquinas game on the television and saw the way he made high school quarterbacks shriek for their lives, I've payed close attention to when he plays. As a true freshman last year, Bosa registered 7.5 sacks, the third highest total on Ohio State. He already looks the part as well coming into this season at 6'5'' and weighing in at a solid 285 lbs. I'd also love to break up that monster pass rush Ohio State will have on display featuring Bosa, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. You can never have too many pass rushers and Bosa would be around for another year and quite possibly two more. Hackenberg could also give him some pointers on mastering the flow in exhcange for not wreaking havoc on the Penn State offensive line in October, but there's certainly potential there as well.
Nick P: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
I know I should pick an offensive lineman here, but I'm assuming most everyone picked Brandon Scherff, so I'll go a different direction. Stefon Diggs is probably the opponent I am most afraid of entering this season. Diggs is as electrifying as they come, and can take over a game if the ball is put in his hands. Unfortunately for him, he plays for Maryland. While Maryland's QB options aren't the worst in the Big Ten, they're certainly not inspiring. Penn State's wide receivers are brimming with potential, but the unit as a whole is probably a year or two away from reaching the upper echelon of the Big Ten. Adding Diggs to this year's receiving class makes everyone automatically better. A starting trio of Diggs, Lewis, and Hamilton would rival last year's Allen Robinson and Brandon Felder Show. Defenses would have to pay extra attention to Diggs, leaving even more space for the tight ends to work with. Adding Diggs to the roster not only gives Hackenberg his most reliable target and makes the entire offense more dangerous, but it also takes away the most important chess piece for a potentially difficult to topple adversary.
Dan: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Yeah, he's a monster. And gets to use his talents to protect... Jake Rudock. Life is just amazingly unfair sometimes.
Brandon Scherff - 4
Stefon Diggs - 2
Joey Bosa - 1
Jake Ryan - 1
Northwestern DBs - 1