These Are The 10 Best Players In The Big Ten For 2016

The start of the Big Ten season is just weeks away, but the likely top players in the conference have already established themselves. The Big Ten was loaded with talent in 2015, and despite some high-profile players heading to the NFL, that's the case again in 2016. 

There are numerous players who just missed out making this list (like Michigan TE Jake Butt, one of the best TEs in the country, and Illinois pass rusher Dawuane Smoot, who could be a first round pick). But we could only take 10 players, and as a result several quality players didn't make the cut. With that in mind, here are the 10 best players in the Big Ten for 2016. 

10. William Likely, ATH, Maryland

Likely is just 5-foot-7, but he can play. He's listed as a CB, and played well there last year, but that's not all he can do. Likely was the Big Ten's top return man last year and even helped out on offense. He was also a First-Team Big Ten defense member, breaking up 11 passes after picking off six the previous year. Expect Maryland to use Likely in a few different ways this year. 

9. Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

The former five-star recruit took a step forward in 2015, recording 41 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He can play DE, but might line up at DT this year. Big things are expected from McDowell this season and with MSU losing some pieces on the defensive line, it's time for him to reach his potential and become one of the best defensive linemen in the nation. 

8. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley had an incredible freshman year for the Nittany Lions. He racked up 1,076 yards and seven scores on the ground. A Second-Team All-Big Ten member, Barkley could eclipse those numbers this year. For more Big Ten coverage, download the Chat Sports App!

7. Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern 

Jackson scored only five times last season on the ground, but was still a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection. That's because he racked up 1,418 yards on an offense that had a terrible passing attack. Jackson carried the Wildcats' offense last year and could do so again this season. 

6. Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

The Buckeyes lost a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but do return McMillan. He had 119 tackles last year and was named to the Second-Team All-Big Ten team. He could put up even bigger numbers this year as the leader of the OSU defense. 

5. Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern

Walker doesn't get a ton of hype, but he made the First-Team All-Big Ten squad for a reason last year. A talented, although a bit undersized LB, Walker is the next great Northwestern LB. He racked up 120 tackles last year and added a pick, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Expect another great season out of Walker in 2016. 

4. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

Had Lewis turned pro this season, he might have been a first round pick. He surely will be next season, especially if he matches his level of play. He's great in the passing game and surprisingly effective against the run. There's a reason he was on the defensive First-Team All-Big Ten team. 

3. Jabrill Peppers, ATH, Michigan

Much like Likely, we're listing Peppers as an athlete because he plays multiple positions. He was a First-Team All-Big Ten defensive back last year, Peppers will be listed as a linebacker this year. But Michigan is doing that to put Peppers in position to make plays, and he'll be doing plenty of covering. He'll also help out on returns and maybe even on offense like he did last year. In terms of pure talent, few players in the nation can match up with Peppers. 

2. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

With Ezekiel Elliott gone, the Buckeyes are going to lean heavily on Barrett. He didn't throw the ball much last season, but he'll be expected to this year. He's the undisputed starting QB and could pass his 45 TDs from the 2014 season. Barrett will be a Heisman threat this year. 

1. Desmond King, CB, Iowa

King isn't just one of the best CBs in the Big Ten, he's won of the best CBs in the nation. He picked off eight passes last year, despite teams trying to avoid throwing in his direction. King doesn't play a sexy position like QB or RB, but he's the top player in the Big Ten. 

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Related Topics: Big Ten Football News, Desmond King, Big Ten Football, Jabrill Peppers, Anthony Walker, William Likely, Malik McDowell, J.T. Barrett, Saquon Barkley, Jourdan Lewis, Raekwon McMillan, Justin Jackson