With the return of several conferences to the 2020 college football scene, we are rolling out an updated NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board featuring players from those schools. First up, offensive players from the Big Ten:
Brandon Peters, QB, Illinois
Last year, Brandon Peters put up some impressive performances early in the season, but it was the Illini’s upset over No. 6 Wisconsin where the first-year starter had his real coming out party. Against the Badgers, you saw some good – Peters is a physically talented right-handed passer with the ability to drop the ball where only his receiver can make a play; good athleticism and strength for the position to move around the pocket, extend plays with his legs, and even be a threat to keep the ball on zone-read plays. But you also saw some bad – risky throws into coverage, a couple late passes, and loose ball-security in the pocket.
When the game was on the line, however, the graduate transfer from Michigan saved his best for last, displaying some moxie and gun-slinger traits by throwing a fourth-quarter touchdown and later getting his team in position to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired. Two weeks later against Michigan State, Peters was at it again, this time orchestrating the largest comeback in Illinois history with a game-sealing touchdown pass in the final seconds of a 37-34 win. If the now second-year starter can build onto the foundation he established last season, Peters could end up hearing his name called on draft weekend.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa
Don’t look now, but the Iowa Hawkeyes have a deep receiving corps led by two talented seniors, including Ihmir Smith-Marsette. A gifted athlete who’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, Smith-Marsette put on a clinic in last year’s Holiday Bowl vs. USC, scoring touchdowns by way of receiving, rushing and on kickoff return. Standing at 6-1 and 183 pounds, the Newark, N.J. native has prototypical “Z receiver” traits in that he’s a crafty route runner capable of creating separation on all three levels of the field, and is dangerous on gadget plays like end-arounds and reverses, where he uses his natural instincts to exploit holes in the defense and his shiftiness to make defenders miss. Being slighter-framed leads to some inconsistencies escaping press coverage and sustaining his blocks in the run game, but – if he can improve in these areas – he has the potential to provide great value in the middle rounds of the draft to an NFL team looking for a versatile playmaker and special teams contributor.
Michal Menet, C, Penn State
When teams are evaluating centers, they seek smart, tough, athletic and consistent blockers — and Michal Menet is just that. The two-time captain returns for his third season as the Nittany Lions’ starting center and leads one of the most talented units in the country. Snapping with his right hand, the Birdsboro, Pennsylvania native hikes a very accurate and catchable shotgun snap before displaying the foot quickness necessary to execute a variety of blocking techniques. With good pad level and leg drive, Menet is capable of creating good initial push on the D-line in the run game, and then does a nice job using his quickness working to seal at the linebacker level. In the pass game, his pre-snap awareness helps Penn State get into good plays, and he then displays good awareness and quickness picking up blitzes and stunts while seeking out work when left uncovered.
NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: BIG TEN OFFENSE
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