The 2013 NFL draft was not a good one for the Big Ten. Will 2014 turn out better for the league? It's a long way away, but ESPN.com draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has an early look at the top five draft-eligible players by position for next year. The Big Ten makes a few appearances.
Leading the way on Kiper's list is Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby, a junior who is ranked the No. 1 player at his position. Kiper writes of Roby:
"This is a player comfortable with the idea of island living. Roby has good man cover skills and definitely fits in that class of college cornerback prospects who will need to keep focused because quarterbacks will be extremely cautious about challenging him, even as he lines up against the opposition's top wide receiver every week."
The player many project to be the top Big Ten player drafted next year is Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan. Kiper ranks Lewan No. 3 among offensive linemen in the 2014 class.
Ohio State junior Ryan Shazier is rated as the No. 4 outside linebacker, while Michigan State senior Max Bullough is pegged as the No. 5 inside linebacker. Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz is slotted as the No. 4 tight end.
No Big Ten players made the top five at any of the major offensive skill positions -- quarterback, running back or receiver. And the league also didn't crack Kiper's rankings at defensive tackle, a traditionally strong position for the conference that needs some restocking this season.
The rankings are hardly set in stone, and much can change between now and next April. But it gives you an idea of how the Big Ten's best rank against the top draft prospects in the nation, at least in perception.