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Thursday, April 23, 2009
Will the Big Ten have a top 10 draft pick?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A year after Michigan left tackle Jake Long was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, the Big Ten might struggle to get a player in the top 10 on Saturday.

Examining the mock drafts from my NFL blogger colleagues, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, the Big Ten might be left out of the top 10 for the first time since 2002. The Big Ten has had at least one player go in the top 5 in the last six drafts (two in 2007).

Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin seems to be ESPN's pick as the Big Ten's first draftee this year. Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells appears at No. 5 and No. 9 in Chad Reuter's and Pete Prisco's mock drafts at CBSSports.com. Sports Illustrated's Don Banks doesn't have a Big Ten player drafted until Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.  

Though the Big Ten's national reputation has been damaged in recent years, the league could still hang its hat on producing elite NFL prospects. But several players like Wells, Jenkins and Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis entered the 2008 season as virtual locks for the top 10, while Maybin wasn't even on anyone's radar before the season.

Draft order certainly isn't everything, but Saturday could be another humbling moment for the Big Ten.