The long march to the season already feels like it’s dragging, and it’s not even June yet. But the Big Ten blog, like always, has the season on its mind and is turning to a familiar pastime to help survive the summer by looking at the most indispensable players for each team in the league.
As a reminder, indispensable doesn’t necessarily mean best.
The goal is to identify players who would be hardest to replace between now and the start of the season if they suffered an injury, were lost to suspension, abducted by an alien, etc. Whether it’s from a particular player’s individual value or lack of depth at a position, we’re picking two guys from each team that fit the bill -- usually offense and defense, but not always.
Up next: Ohio State
LT Taylor Decker: There are talented spare parts just laying around at nearly every position on perhaps the most loaded offense in the country, but Urban Meyer’s attack is built on the foundation up front and replacing the anchor of the offensive line if something happened to Decker would be a tremendous challenge. Not only has the senior emerged as one of the most physical, nasty blockers in the country, but he’s also an invaluable leader who has become a spokesman outside the locker room and a model teammate inside of it. The spotlight shines brighter on the quarterbacks, running back Ezekiel Elliott and a game-breaking receiver like Michael Thomas, but with little other experience at tackle behind Decker, he is unquestionably the player the high-flying Buckeyes can least afford to lose.
DE Joey Bosa: Tabbing one of the most disruptive defenders in the nation isn’t exactly a bold choice, but Bosa’s production, talent and motor are just about impossible to replace. And after losing bookend starter Steve Miller at defensive end last season along with defensive tackle Michael Bennett, the Buckeyes will be counting on their star pass-rusher even more this season until a young but talented group of linemen develop and help shoulder the load. Bosa is a rare specimen and a potential No. 1 draft pick next season, and asking somebody to fill that void would be a supremely tall order.