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Thursday, April 22, 2010
A look at tonight's Big Ten draft hopefuls

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

All the talk about potential Big Ten expansion and the final week of spring football in the league has prevented me from weighing in on a little event called the NFL draft.

It's sort of a big deal. Especially around here.

As everyone knows, the draft is moving to prime time, and the first round takes place tonight (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET).

What's in it for Big Ten football fans?

Well, you'll almost certainly see three Big Ten players drafted, and possibly more. ESPN experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. each have four Big Ten players going in the first round of their mock drafts.

Here's how I see the Big Ten's first-round hopefuls:

Locks: Iowa LT Bryan Bulaga, Michigan DE Brandon Graham, Penn State DT Jared Odrick

Near lock: Indiana LT Rodger Saffold

Possibility: Illinois WR Arrelious Benn

Long shots: Penn State LB Sean Lee, Ohio State LB/DE Thaddeus Gibson

Barring a major surprise, Bulaga will be the first Big Ten player selected, followed by Graham. There are too many teams at the bottom of the first round who love Odrick, and one will pull the trigger. Saffold has really improved his stock during the pre-draft session and is a projected first-rounder, according to many outlets. I still think Benn will be an outstanding pro, but he might not have done enough at the college level to warrant a first-round selection. Lee and Gibson also should do well at the next level, but I'd be surprised if they go in the first round. If Gibson isn't picked tonight, it will mark just the fifth time in the last 20 years that Ohio State hasn't produced a first-round selection.

Enjoy draft night, everyone.