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Thursday, January 20, 2011
Big Ten players could fill late first round

By Adam Rittenberg

Colleagues Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have produced mock drafts now that we know which underclassmen will be in the mix in April.

Their forecast contains both good news and bad news for the Big Ten.

The bad news: neither analyst projects a Big Ten player to go in the top 15.

The good news: both see six Big Ten players hearing their names called in the latter part of the first round.

Here's how they see things shaking out:

Adrian Clayborn
Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn is projected to be a first-round draft pick in April.
McShay
Kiper
Thoughts: Kerrigan seems to have been hurt a bit by some of the underclassmen entering the draft, as he moved down several notches from previous projections. Both analysts like Clayborn despite the Iowa star's poor finish to the season. I still think Clayborn is a guaranteed first-round selection, but I'm interested to see how he does in the pre-draft workouts. Kiper brings up two names whom McShay leaves off in Leshoure and Ballard, while McShay is higher on Heyward and Liuget than Kiper. It would be pretty surprising if Liuget falls out of the first round after what he did this season. I'm guessing some were surprised when Ballard made it on the Senior Bowl roster, but he projects well to the NFL and has a good combination of size and strength.

Should the Big Ten be concerned if it doesn't have a top 10 pick? Perhaps. The league hasn't had one since 2008, when Michigan tackle Jake Long was the No. 1 overall pick. If these projections come true, it would mark three consecutive seasons without a top 10 selection.

Here's where the first Big Ten player has been drafted in recent years: