The first week of the countdown wraps up with a player who was expected to be in the mix among the Big Ten’s best players all along. But because there’s still plenty of players to go, that qualifies this first-week appearance as one more surprise in the league as the top performers of 2013 receive their final rankings. As a reminder, this list evaluates only what happened last season, tossing out preseason ratings and professional potential as criteria — a couple items that could have given a boost to the next guy under the microscope.
No. 16: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Previous ranking: No. 9
Making the case for Roby: After deciding to add one more chapter to his college career, Roby surely didn’t get the ending he was hoping for before deciding to skip off to the NFL. There were certainly high points, the likes of which few athletes in the country could provide. At times, the Ohio State junior made it look easy at times to lock down a receiver or fly around the edge to provide a game-changing punt block on special teams. His freakish athleticism was again on display, just as he planned as he tried to boost his professional stock and become a potential first-round draft pick in the secondary.
But there were also more low points than either he or the Buckeyes could have anticipated, starting with a suspension that cost him the first game of the season, nagging injuries — including one that forced him to the sideline for the Discover Orange Bowl — and one notably rough outing against Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis.
Through all that, though, Roby was still one of the most valuable players in the Big Ten, breaking up 16 passes, grabbing three interceptions, blocking a pair of punts and scoring a couple touchdowns. He admitted at one point in the season that he might have been pressing too much and thinking too hard about his decision to come back for another year at Ohio State, but when he locked in to his assignments and was as close to healthy as could be, there weren’t many defensive backs in the country better than Roby.
And while they knew going into the season that Roby wouldn’t be coming back for his final season of eligibility, the Buckeyes would certainly sign up for another year of his brand of highs and lows in a heartbeat.
No. 25: Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
No. 24: Indiana WR Cody Latimer
No. 23: Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Continue reading this article at ESPN: Big Ten postseason player rankings: No. 16