Predicting The 5 Best Defensive Players In The Big Ten For 2016

The start of the Big Ten season is just a month away, and the top players in the conference have already established themselves. The Big Ten was loaded with defensive talent in 2015, and despite some high-profile players heading to the NFL, that's the case again in 2016. Here are the top five defensive stars in the conference going into the 2016 season:

5) Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State Spartans

McDowell has been a menace in the middle of Michigan State's defense, using his scary combination of size (6'6", 285 lbs) and speed to consistently get into the backfield. More that just a run stuffer, McDowell recorded 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. Expect him to have another breakout season.

4) Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State Buckeyes

McMillan has prototypical size for an inside linebacker at 6'2" and 240 lbs, but has also demonstrated the speed to make plays sideline to sideline while being adept enough in coverage. He also has tremendous instincts, which allowed him to rack up a team-high 114 tackles last season.

3) Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan Wolverines

A shut down corner, Lewis was a USA Today First-Team All-American. He racked up 49 tackles, two picks and an absurd 19 pass breakups. He'll go into the 2017 NFL Draft as perhaps the best pure cover corner available, yet when you're splitting hairs at the top of his list, there are a few better all-around players (though the margin isn't much)

2) Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan Wolverines

Peppers did a little bit of everything for Michigan last season, as he was involved in all three phases of the game for the Wolverines. He started at safety, racking up 45 tackles and 10 pass breakups, along with nearly 420 return yards this season as the Wolverines' top return man. Peppers even contributed on offense, adding 151 yards and two scores. His versatility puts him over Lewis on this list.

1) Desmond King, CB, Iowa Hawkeyes

King isn't just the best cornerback in the Big Ten, he's maybe the premier cornerback in the nation. King was a shutdown coverage corner for last season, but is also extremely physical against the run. He won the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year award after racking up 67 tackles, eight picks and 12 pass breakups - despite teams trying to avoid him at every turn. Look for him to repeat those numbers this year.

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Related Topics: Michigan Wolverines Football, Desmond King, NCAA Football, Big Ten Football, Jabrill Peppers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Malik McDowell, Michigan State Spartans Football, Iowa Hawkeyes Football, Jourdan Lewis, Raekwon McMillan