Big Ten rankings: No. 21 Kirk Cousins

The Big Ten preseason player rankings, based on past performance and 2010 potential, continue with ...

No. 21: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State, Jr., 6-3, 202

2009 numbers: Finished third in the Big Ten in pass efficiency (142.6 rating) last season after throwing 19 touchdowns and only nine interceptions (second fewest among Big Ten starters); ranked seventh in the league in both passing average (206.2 ypg) and total offense (210.8 ypg).

Most recent ranking: Unranked in the 2009 postseason player rankings.

Making the case for Cousins: All in all, Cousins had a very solid performance in his first season as Michigan State's starting quarterback. Without the services of a top-of-the-line running back like Javon Ringer, Cousins guided a Michigan State offense that led the Big Ten in passing touchdowns (28) and ranked second in pass offense (269.4 ypg). A few mistakes stood out, namely his late interception against Notre Dame, but Cousins managed the game well and avoided picks in seven contests. He should be even better this season, and he'll have the Big Ten's deepest group of wide receivers and tight ends at his disposal, not to mention an improved running game with Larry Caper and Edwin Baker. Cousins also has the makings of an excellent on-field leader after serving as just the second sophomore captain in Michigan State history in 2009.

The rundown

  • No. 25: Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt

  • No. 24: Illinois RB Mikel LeShoure

  • No. 23: Iowa DT Karl Klug

  • No. 22: Northwestern LB Quentin Davie