Friday, May 4, 2012
Will B1G's top-10 draft drought end in 2013?
By Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten hasn't produced a top-10 pick in the NFL draft since Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long and Ohio State defensive lineman Vernon Gholston went at No. 1 and No. 6, respectively, in 2008 (sorry, Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh doesn't count, played his entire career in Big 12).
Does Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema have another Outland Trophy winner in left tackle Ricky Wagner?
The league's highest picks in the past four drafts have been Penn State's Aaron Maybin (No. 11 to Buffalo in 2009), Michigan's Brandon Graham (No. 13 to Philadelphia in 2010), Wisconsin's J.J. Watt (No. 11 to Houston in 2011) and Iowa's Riley Reiff last week (No. 23 to Detroit). Although the Big Ten's overall first-round numbers haven't been bad, and the league had 41 total players selected last week, its highest total since 2006, the lack of premier prospects is a bit of a concern.
But the top-10 drought could end in 2013, according to ESPN's Todd McShay.
My apologies for posting this a bit late, but McShay came out with his first mock draft for 2013, which he describes as an "extremely initial" version that "won't mean much by the time the summer is over."
Here's where he sees Big Ten players being selected next April.
It's an interesting list, albeit an early one. Wagner certainly will be a player to watch as he enters his third year as a starter for the Badgers. He has been a good player, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2011, but whether he can take several steps to become one of the nation's best offensive linemen remains to be seen.
Gholston seems like a strong candidate to leave Michigan State after this season, where he'll be a top contender for Big Ten defensive player of the year honors. Hankins drew rave reviews from his teammates and coaches this spring, and can be a disruptive force with his size.
All the defensive linemen on McShay's list have high-level talent, and there could be more from the Big Ten (John Simon, Akeem Spence).
One player who doesn't appear is Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who many project to play wide receiver in the NFL. It'll be very interesting to see where "Shoelace" ends up next April.