Our Big Ten position rankings wraps up the defensive side of the ball with a look at the individual defensive backs. On Monday, we listed the top secondary units in the league.
We find the cornerbacks to be a little ahead of the safeties this year, which is why you'll find cornerbacks dominating this Top 10. As a reminder, we're basing these rankings heavily on last season's production, along with consideration given to potential.
Bring it ...
1. Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State, senior: Adams is the rare breed of cornerback who can be physical on the line of scrimmage and also cover down the field. He had three interceptions last season, and was also very effective on blitzes. The potential first-round pick's multitude of skills puts him at No. 1 here. Teammate Darqueze Dennard is another standout cornerback who just missed this list.
2. Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue, junior: At 5-foot-9, Allen might not be very big. But he relishes taking on taller receivers, and usually comes out on top. And once he picks a ball off, he's a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
3. Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa, senior: Hyde is the leader of the Hawkeyes' secondary and was a second-team All-Big Ten performer in 2011. He's a playmaker, as evidenced by last season's three interceptions and 11 passes defended, the latter of which tied for the most in the Big Ten.
4. C.J. Barnett, S, Ohio State, junior: Barnett was the Buckeyes' most consistent performer in the secondary last season and led the team with 75 tackles. He's a hard hitter who also grabbed interceptions against Miami and Michigan State a year ago. He was named a second-team All-Big Ten performer by the league's coaches.
5. Isaiah Lewis, S, Michigan State, junior: Forget about the running-into-the-punter penalty in the Big Ten title game; the Spartans might not have gotten to Indianapolis without the play of Lewis all season. Though Trenton Robinson was an All-Big Ten safety, the team's coaches say Lewis was their top performer in 2011. He's a solid tackler who also picked off four passes last season, and should be even better in 2012.
6. Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State, sophomore: A talented player who showed his potential last season, Roby has added muscle and cut his 40-yard time down to the 4.3 range this offseason. Urban Meyer awarded him the No. 1 jersey because of his chance to be great.
7. J.T. Floyd, CB, Michigan, senior: Floyd has been the Wolverines' steadiest, sturdiest cornerback for a while now. He had a big interception near the goal line in the win against Notre Dame last season, and led the team with eight pass break-ups.
8. Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois, senior: An underrated player, Hawthorne tied for the Big Ten lead in passes defended last season, and was the MVP of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl win against UCLA. He's an excellent athlete who likely will see time on offense this season as well.
9. Blake Countess, CB, Michigan, sophomore: Countess gets Wolverines' fans more excited than Floyd, and with good reason. Countess oozes with talent and earned a starting nod the second half of last season as a true freshman. He admitted that he faltered at the end of last season and gave up too many big plays, but he's a guy who should only continue to get better.
10. Jordan Kovacs, S, Michigan, senior: Kovacs has become so much more than a former walk-on with a heartwarming story. He's a standout safety and one of the leaders of the Wolverines' defense. He's got a nose for the ball and produced four sacks, two forced fumbles and interception last season.