- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our Big Ten postseason player rankings creep closer toward the top 5. Every player left on the list is either the league's best or second best at his position, in our estimation. As a reminder, these rankings are based solely on performance during the 2012 season.
Let's keep it on the line for the next selection, who wears two "7s" across his chest for the Michigan Wolverines but checks in at ...
No. 7: Taylor Lewan, LT, Michigan, junior, 6-foot-8, 309 pounds
Preseason ranking: No. 10
2012 numbers: Started all 13 games at left tackle for the second straight season; earned the Big Ten's Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award, first-team AP All-America honors and consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors; anchored a line that surrendered only 18 sacks (tied for 28th nationally).
Why he's here: In a season where little went as expected for Big Ten offensive lines or individual linemen, Lewan delivered the goods for Michigan. He cemented himself as one of the nation's top tackles, earning first- or second-team All-America honors from numerous outlets and being named the Big Ten's top offensive lineman. He has been a mainstay for Michigan, making his 28th consecutive start in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.
Michigan's offense endured its ups and downs in 2012, and the line struggled with run-blocking for anyone not named Denard Robinson. But Lewan held his own against the league's top defensive linemen and limited South Carolina superhuman Jadeveon Clowney in the bowl game. He did little to hurt his draft stock as a likely first-round pick.
And that's the best part. Despite the lofty projections, Lewan surprised many by deciding to remain at Michigan for his senior season. He'll provide leadership for a line enduring some significant personnel turnover. He'll also aim to become the first Michigan player to win the Outland Trophy.
3dDan Murphy and Austin Ward