Northwestern position battles: Dean Lowry likely starting at defensive end, Cameron Dickerson likely starting at WR

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

In which we crib some news from people who actually know what's going on: Dean Lowry seems like he won opposite Tyler Scott, Cameron Dickerson is ahead of a host of candidates at WR -- including Kyle Prater, and BUDZIEN4GROZA

We never did get around to hitting all the position battles, and at this point it would be too late to profile all of them -- sorry, we spent THREE MONTHS speculating on the intricacies of every position battle and didn't have time to get around to writing four extra posts on safety, DE, CB, and right tackle, after explicitly talking about them for months, you damn ingrates -- but thanks to some choice quotes from coaches, we have a clearer picture on what's happening.

Let's hit the bulletpoints:

Non-Tyler Scott Defensive End

Wait, those aren't bulletpoints

Dean Lowry was going up against fellow youngsters Ifeadi Odenigbo and Deonte Gibson at defensive end, but according to Inside NU, Marty Long says Lowry will be the guy on the field first.

"Tyler Scott is on the field first, and Dean," he said, after discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Odenigbo and Gibson.

This is what we had projected, although we acknowledged that it was a three-horse race between Lowry, who we wrote in our profile seemed like the most all-around player of the three, and Odenigbo and Gibson.

Now the question is how the team will use Odenigbo and Gibson, both of whom are, by definition, "backups" now. Gibson showed his worth as a third-down pass rusher last year, and could work very nicely in a similar role in 2013. And Odenigbo has showed too much talent to keep off the field. You're going to want to keep Scott in the game most of the time, and I'm not sure how many snaps are available between infrequent spells of rest for Scott and third downs on Lowry's side of the field, but I'd imagine that's what these guys are splitting.

I know we crap on the three-man rush, but in really severe passing downs, I could see Northwestern running a "rabbit" type set with Odenigbo and Gibson on the ends and Scott bullrushing in the middle -- like we said when he did our Tyler Scott post, he got an alarming number of his sacks in these scenarios.

It doesn't seem like any of these guys have practiced inside, but we do hear significantly more about the pass-rushers than we do the defensive tackles -- I'm chalking this up to a) a more notable position battle b) generally more dynamic athletes being more notable.

To summarize, this is a good problem to have. One of the four guys in the mix at defensive end is an all-Big Ten player, Lowry looked like a stud freshman, Gibson has shown his ability to contribute in a specific role, and Odenigbo's praises have been sung far and wide. It's a real win-win thing we got going here, and I expect Northwestern's pass rush to do quite well.

Fourth wide-out

Northwestern returned three starters in Tony Jones, Christian Jones, and Rashad Lawrence, and the one open spot was the slot abandoned by Demetrius Fields' graduation. We've heard a lot about the talent at wide receiver -- Kyle Prater, Cameron Dickerson, Pierre Youngblood-Ary, Mike Jensen has received some hype, and maybe we can start talking about Mike McHugh and Andrew Scanlan now that they are redshirt freshmen -- but again, Inside NU:

The wide receiver rotation has crystallized into a clear top-four: senior Rashad Lawrence, junior Christian Jones, junior Tony Jones and sophomore Cameron Dickerson.

As we noted in our post about C-Dick, everybody has been hyping him. But we really wanted to believe in Kyle Prater. He was the No. 1 receiver in the country! Maybe he needed a year to adjust to Northwestern, but, he couldn't still be the No. 5 or worse receiver at Northwestern, right? Apparently he is.

I don't expect Dickerson to be as important a factor as Fields was last year -- Jones and Jones should once again carry the fray -- but there was a dropoff between the top four guys and guys 5-8 last year (not including Kain Colter), and I expect that to be similar this year.

I'm not sure how the positionality works, but just for the sake of filling our Northwestern depth chart projection, we put Dickerson in the slot. Hoping Prater is at least a factor as a backup.

Kickoffs

It's Jeff Budzien! Score! #Budzien4Groza #Budzien4Groza

And one random roster note: it appears Jordan Perkins -- the Stanford commit at running back who converted to defensive back last year -- is now a wide receiver. Dude, he seems talented, and we hope he sticks, but WR does not seem like the place for that to happen. NU had less depth at defensive back, and I'd imagine this means the instruction wasn't taking.

And we never mentioned this, but since we touched on it in our post about him: Paul Jorgensen is not actually wearing 81 at right tackle. He's now 78.

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