Big Ten 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

Big Ten 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

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Big Ten 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

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The 2019 early rankings, depth chart lookaheads, and projections for the Big Ten.


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These can and will change after spring ball and going into the season, but for now, as a starting point, welcome to your pre-everything early ranking of all the Big Ten teams.

BIG TEN EAST

7. Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights have the offensive experience, but now it all has to work. Artur Sitkowski has the skills to be the starting quarterback, and he gets four of the team’s top five receivers back along with potential star RB Raheem Blackshear. The line should be okay, but top tackle Tariq Cole is gone and guard Jonah Jackson is transferring.

The linebacking corps is the issue with top tacklers Trevor Morris and Deonte Roberts done, and in all, five of the top seven tacklers are gone. however, the secondary has potential and the defensive interior has decent talent.

Final 2018 Record: 1-11 (0-9)
2018 Big Ten East Finish: 7
2018 Prespring Big Ten Conference Ranking: 13
Biggest Issue To Fix: Scoring Offense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Wide Receiver
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Linebacker
– Rutgers Schedule Analysis

6. Maryland

New head coach Mike Locksley is going to do everything possible to bring in the talent, meaning the grad transfer and recruiting aspects will play a big role. QB Tyrrell Pigrome is back, but the Terps could use Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson to push for the gig. Anthony McFarland and the running backs are strong, but who will they run behind? Four starters are done up front.

The defense loses just enough pieces to be a big problem. Six of the top ten tacklers have to be replaced, with the linebacking corps and defensive front undergoing an overhaul.

Final 2018 Record: 5-7 (3-6)
2018 Big Ten East Finish
: 5
2018 Prespring Big Ten Conference Ranking
: 10
Biggest Issue To Fix: Passing Offense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Running Back
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Offensive Line
– Maryland Schedule Analysis

5. Indiana

There’s a whole lot to like at the skill spots with Peyton Ramsey leading a deep group of quarterbacks, excellent RB Stevie Scott back, and with three of the top four receivers returning. The line, though, needs a whole lot of reworking with three starters needing to be replaced.

The secondary should be the early big positive with four of the five starters returning, but leading tackler S Jonathan Crawford is gone. Second-leading tackler Dameon Willis it gone from the linebacking corps in the 4-2-5 alignment, but nine of the top 11 tacklers are back. The line has a ton of work to do in the interior.

Final 2018 Record: 5-7 (2-7)
2018 Big Ten East Finish: 6
2018 Prespring Big Ten Conference Ranking: 12
Biggest Issue To Fix: Downfield Passing
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Quarterback
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Defensive Tackle
– Indiana Schedule Analysis

4. Penn State

There aren’t any glaring problems, but there are just enough losses to be annoying. The Nittany Lions aren’t going to tumble with Tommy Stevens – most likely – taking over at quarterback and with just enough decent receivers to be okay. RB Miles Sanders left early, but Ricky Slade will rise up into a new superstar full-time back. OT Ryan Bates left early for the NFL – he’s the only starter needing to be replaced up front.

Superstar LB Micah Parsons is back, and the secondary returns several decent parts, but some young defensive players have to rise up in a hurry with seven of the top ten tacklers gone. The line losing Shareef Miller outside and Kevin Given inside is a problem, but years of great recruiting will kick in.

Final 2018 Record: 9-4 (6-3)
2018 Big Ten West Finish
: 3
2018 Prespring Big Ten Conference Ranking
: 3
Biggest Issue To Fix: Pass Protection
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Offensive Guard
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Outside Linebacker
– Penn State Schedule Analysis

3. Michigan State

Let’s try this again. The amazing defense of last year should be every bit as strong, with LB Joe Bachie leading a group that gets back everyone up front, enough of the linebacking corps to be fine, and enough good defensive backs to overcome the early departure of Justin Layne. And then there’s the offense.

Is QB Brian Lewerke going to be healthy and better? Everyone is back on the O line, the running backs are used to not having LJ Scott around, and three of the top four receivers are back. Now they all have to produce.

Final 2018 Record: 7-6 (5-4)
2018 Big Ten East Finish: 4
2018 Prespring Big Ten Conference Ranking: 3
Biggest Issue To Fix: Scoring Offense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Offensive Line
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Strong Safety
– Michigan State Schedule Analysis

2. Michigan

Everyone will say and write lots and lots of things about how the Wolverines are in for a down season after the way last year ended – whatever. Everything should be fine, especially on offense with QB Shea Patterson and the emerging receiving corps about to do a lot more. The O line might quietly grow into one of the Big Ten’s best, but the running backs should be a massive issue after the loss of Karan Higdon to the NFL and with Chris Evans not currently with the team.

Losing LB Devin Bush, DE Chase Winovich, and DE Rashan Gary isn’t a plus no matter what, but the defense will be fantastic again. The tackles are good, and the linebacking corps will rise up without Bush. The kicking game should be a major positive.

Final 2018 Record: 10-3 (8-1)
2018 Big Ten East Finish
: T1
2018 Prespring Big Ten Conference Ranking
: 5
Biggest Issue To Fix: Generating Takeaways
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Wide Receiver
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Cornerback
– Michigan Schedule Analysis

1. Ohio State

With Justin Fields eligible, now the offense has its next superstar quarterback ready to go just as the Ryan Day era begins. The receiving corps loses three of its top four targets, but there are more terrific players ready to step up. RB JK Dobbins should take on a bigger role with Mike Weber leaving early, but three starters have to be replaced up front.

The questions are on the offensive side. The defense? After a rocky season, look out. 18 of the top 20 tacklers are back, only losing Nick Bosa – who only played three games – and DT Dre’Mont Jones. The linebacking corps is loaded with experience, the secondary should be stronger, and the line will be fine.

Final 2018 Record: 13-1 (8-1)
2018 Big Ten East Finish: T1
2018 Prespring Big Ten Conference Ranking: 1
Biggest Issue To Fix: Pass Defense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Linebacker
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Quarterback
– Ohio State Schedule Analysis

NEXT: BIG TEN WEST

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