The Big Ten had only one first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Will things improve in 2014?
ESPN.com NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay say yes, but not by a landslide. In their newest mock drafts, Kiper has four Big Ten players in the first round -- but only one in the top 23 -- while McShay projects three.
Leading the way from the Big Ten in both of their projections is Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan. Kiper projects Lewan at No. 11, while McShay has him at No. 12. Both have Lewan as the third offensive tackle taken off the board, behind Auburn's Greg Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. It makes sense, as left tackle is a premium position in today's pass-happy NFL. But teams will likely grill Lewan about some character concerns during the upcoming combine in Indianapolis.
Michigan State star and Thorpe Award winner Darqueze Dennard is the second player listed in each of our analysts' new mock drafts. McShay has Dennard going No. 22, while Kiper has him at No. 24.
To see what other Big Ten players are included in those mock drafts and what the analysts had to say about Lewan and Dennard, check out the full posts. Here's Kiper's mock draft, and here is the one from McShay.