Big Ten rankings: No. 11, Johnny Adams

We're close to top-10 range in our preseason Big Ten players countdown. Remember that these rankings are based on past performance and 2012 potential.

The next guy on our list could find himself on some All-America teams this season ...

No. 11: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State, senior, 5-foot-11, 177 pounds

2011 postseason rank: Not ranked.

2011 numbers: Had 51 tackles, including three sacks along with three interceptions and six passes broken up. Named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches.

Why he's here: Adams is not afraid to tussle. He is terrific at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage or flying off the corner on a blitz, like he did to sack Denard Robinson on fourth down in a crucial play last year against Michigan.

"He plays with an attitude," Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi told me this spring. "You've got to have that when you're pressing up on people just about every down."

If Adams were merely a bruiser, he might not be all that special. What sets him apart is that he's also excellent in coverage, making him a premier player at his position. He's got a chance to be a first-round NFL pick, and his coaches say he's become more of a student of the game this offseason. We know Adams is not going to back down from any challenge.

The countdown

No. 25: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska

No. 24: MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota

No. 23: Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue

No. 22: Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin

No. 21: Jared Abbrederis, WR/KR, Wisconsin

No. 20: Denicos Allen, LB, Michigan State

No. 19: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

No. 18: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

No. 17: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

No. 16: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois

No. 15: Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan

No. 14: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State

No. 13: James Vandenberg, QB, Iowa

No. 12: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin