The Big Ten is perennially one of the biggest sources of NFL talent year after year, so it's no surprise that its top prospect is a potential top-10 pick. This season, the top prospect appears to be former Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, who declared for the NFL draft after the 2011 Insight Bowl in his junior year.
Reiff's size looks ideal for the coveted left tackle position at the next level, as he measured in at the combine 6'5" and 313 pounds. He's also strong and aggressive, which suits him well in run blocking situations and regular pass plays, but that aggression sometimes led to blitzers running right past him after he had zeroed in on a rusher.
Furthermore, some scouts balked at Reiff's pedestrian arm length at 33.25 inches, according to the Chicago Tribune. That isn't exactly a disaster, but it is one of the reasons why NFL teams balked at fellow former Hawkeye Bryan Bulaga until late in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. Bulaga has since switched to the less important right tackle position, and he has thrived there.
Still, Reiff's Iowa career has been solid. Aside from one arrest for public intoxication and avoiding arrest as a true freshman (Reiff led police on a 20-minute foot chase through downtown and residential Iowa City after being found half-dressed in an alley), he's been a model citizen for the Hawkeyes.
More to the point, he's also been a model lineman. Reiff started 11 games in his redshirt freshman year at three different positions on the line, including three at left tackle after Bulaga was sidelined with a thyroid condition, and he was a mainstay at left tackle after that. All in all, Bulaga ended his collegiate career with a streak of 34 straight starts (37 overall).
He was named first-team All-Big Ten in 2011 by both the coaches and the media, while garnering scattered All-American attention from various publications.
Reiff isn't quite the slam-dunk tackle that, say, USC road-grader Matt Kalil is, so that's why Kalil's the one who'll almost certainly be going in the top three in the 2012 NFL draft, but Reiff's combination of size, technique and aggression should lead to a high draft pick and a big pay day for the 23-year old from Parkston, S.D.