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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Four Big Ten players in Round 1 mock

By Brian Bennett

Now that all the underclassmen have either declared for the NFL draft or decided to stay in school, the mock draft guys can get down to serious business.

And nobody does it quite like our own Mel Kiper Jr. He is out with his first official mock draft (can something be both official and artificial at the same time?), and he sees a busy Round 1 for the Big Ten. Here are the first-rounders from the league, according to Kiper:

No. 9: Iowa OT Riley Reiff (to Miami)
No. 11: Penn State DT Devon Still (to Kansas City)
No. 17: Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (to Cincinnati)
No. 28: Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus (to Green Bay)

That's as high as I can recall seeing Still go in any projection, but he certainly deserves that kind of consideration based on his play in 2011. Dennard seems to be climbing up the draft boards, and Mercilus obviously made the right decision to come out early if he is first-round material. The general consensus remains that Reiff will be the first Big Ten player chosen.

Of course, much can change as these players go through the rigorous examination process leading up to the draft, including the combine and private workouts. Some will slide, some will rise. But let the serious mock drafting begin in earnest.