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Big Ten post-bowl NFL draft outlook

1/4/2013

The 2013 NFL draft is more than four months away, but all the Big Ten hopefuls have finished their college careers after the bowl games.

While we wait on several underclassmen to finalize their draft decisions -- Michigan's Taylor Lewan, Michigan State's William Gholston, Wisconsin's Travis Frederick, Ohio State's Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde -- ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has come out with his latest Big Board for April's draft. These rankings came out Wednesday, after the Jan. 1 bowls. Only two Big Ten players make the list of 25: Michigan's Lewan at No. 13, and Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins at No. 16. Despite Jadeveon Clowney's ferocious hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl, Kiper likes the way Lewan fared against the South Carolina star. Kiper writes that Hankins is a space eater but there are questions about his pass-rushing ability and explosiveness.

Kiper also has revised lists of top 5 seniors and top 5 juniors at each position.

Here's who made it from the Big Ten ...

SENIORS

JUNIORS

  • Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell is the No. 4 running back

  • Nebraska's Mike Marrow is the No. 5 fullback

  • Michigan State's Dion Sims is the No. 3 tight end

  • Michigan's Taylor Lewan is the No. 2 offensive tackle

  • Ohio State's Marcus Hall is the No. 5 guard

  • Wisconsin's Travis Frederick is the No. 1 center

  • Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins is the No. 2 defensive tackle

  • Michigan State's Max Bullough is the No. 3 inside linebacker

  • Wisconsin's Chris Borland is the No. 4 inside linebacker

  • Illinois' Jonathan Brown is the No. 5 inside linebacker

  • Iowa's Mike Meyer is the No. 3 kicker

  • Purdue's Cody Webster is the No. 5 punter

It's interesting to see Bell as only the No. 4 junior running back. Although I think he made the right call by going pro, he might need a strong predraft performance to move up. Like Peter Konz, Wisconsin's Frederick projects very well to the NFL and could make the jump early. All three of the inside linebackers -- Bullough, Borland and Brown -- are expected to stay for their senior seasons.

What should concern Big Ten fans about these lists is the lack of wide receivers, quarterbacks and defensive backs. When Denard Robinson, who played quarterback for most of his Michigan career, is the only player at wide receiver on either list, there's a problem. When the only Big Ten quarterbacks likely to get drafted -- Robinson, Minnesota's MarQueis Gray -- likely will play other positions at the next level, there's a problem. The Big Ten produces enough NFL-caliber linemen, linebackers and running backs, but it lags behind other leagues at several key skill positions.