1-LaMarr Woodley, Senior, Michigan
2-Kenny Iwebema, Junior, Iowa
3-Steve Davis, Sophomore, Minnesota
4-Matthew Shaughnessy, Sophomore, Wisconsin
5-Bryan Mattison, Junior, Iowa
6-Jay Richardson, Senior, Ohio State
7-Anthony Spencer, Senior, Purdue
8-Joe Monty, Senior, Wisconsin
9-Tim Jamison, Junior, Michigan
10-Lawrence Wilson, Sophomore, Ohio State
This list was the most difficult to put together thus far, and I expect it to be the one that changes the most throughout the season. The debate has already started atop the rankings. Should it be Michigan's steady senior stalwart, LaMarr Woodley or Iowa’s Kenny Iwebema. Both rang in with seven sacks last season and each has the potential for double figures this year. I’ll give the edge to Woodley based on experience and the fact he could flourish in a new aggressive scheme. Expect the three year starter to be “let loose” more often this season, which should help him be more productive. That being said, he has room for improvement defending the run when teams come right at him.
Iwebema excelled in his first year as starter in 2005 and certainly has NFL potential. He is a tough player to block because of his size, wingspan, and athletic ability.
Both Steve Davis and Matthew Shaughnessy played as true freshman last season and showed a great deal of promise. Both are vastly under sized but have athletic ability that can give offensive lineman fits. Davis is the size of your typical outside linebacker but tallied six sacks last year. Shaughnessy has the frame to build on, but has been slowed up this off season while recovering from an ACL tear from last year.
Iowa's Bryan Mattison will return to start opposite of Iwebema. Much like his teammate, Mattison has ideal size and was very solid in his first year starting in 2005. He recorded four sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss last season.
Coming in at number six is Ohio State end man Jay Richardson. Richardson was on the verge of a breakout in 2005 before injury cut his season short. This Buckeye has loads of ability but needs to become a consistent pass rusher and overall player.
Purdue’s Anthony Spencer will garner the attention of protection schemes with Ray Edwards gone, but few are better against the run than him.
The next three in this lineup are surely subject to change. Wisconsin’s Joe Monty is a returning starter to the leagues best defensive line. Monty doesn’t have the pass rushing skills of Shaughnessy or backup Jamal Cooper but he is stout against the run.
Michigan's Tim Jamison is coming off a strong spring and may take over the starting job at some point. He is regaining his trademark quickness after injuries slowed him early in his career.
I’ve always thought highly of Lawrence Wilson since seeing him in high school. After getting some limited playing time last year, he takes over as a starter for the Buckeyes. It may not be this year, but at some point expect this young man to become an All Big Ten player.
Several players on the secondary list could jump up in the top ten at the end of season. Rondell Biggs is the penciled in starter for Michigan and is primed to have a solid senior season after missing most of 2005 due to injury.
Northwestern’s Corey Wootton has the size and wingspan to be a very good pass rusher in the future. His freshman season was cut short due to injury but he showed enough flashes to excite the coaching staff. Jamal Cooper is very undersized, but is a pass rushing threat for the Badgers. He missed most of 2005 due to injury but will surely be in the rotation again this year.