Thursday, January 16, 2014
Only four B1G players enter draft early
By Adam Rittenberg
You've probably heard about the record number of underclassmen entering the 2014 NFL draft. The NFL publishes its official list of draft departures on Sunday, and more than 90 players are expected to be on it, eclipsing the previous record of 73 from last year.
But in Big Ten country, the deadline to declare for the draft passed quietly on Wednesday. Because barely any Big Ten players opted to make the jump.
Only four Big Ten players publicly announced their plans to enter the draft early.
Barring some unannounced surprises, that's it, folks. The small number continues a trend for the Big Ten, which had only six early departures to the NFL draft last year.
There's no doubt the Big Ten group could have been larger. Running backs like Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah could have made the jump, along with Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
The good news for Big Ten fans is all those players return for the 2014 season. But what does it say about the league? Other conferences like the SEC and Pac-12 have many more early entries. Look at what's happened to LSU alone in the past two years (17 total departures).
Underclassmen declaring for the draft is one measure of talent in the league. And in this area, the Big Ten seems to be falling short.