NFL Draft 2012: The Big Ten's 5 Biggest Steals of the Draft

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterApril 30, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 19:  Keshawn Martin #82 of the Michigan State Spartans runs for a touchdown on a hand off from Kirk Cousins #8 during the second quarter of the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Spartan Stadium on November 19, 2011 in East Lansing, Michigan.  (Photo by Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images)
Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the Big Ten was second only to the SEC for the number of players drafted per conference. Here are a few picks that should pay off down the road.


Riley Reiff, Round 1, Pick 23, Detroit Lions

The big man from Iowa was projected at least 10 spots higher than 23rd by most mock drafts, and that the Lions could get a lineman who can step in on Day 1 (indeed, the second lineman selected in the entire draft) that late in the first round is great news for the team—especially with a franchise QB worth protecting in Matt Stafford.


Mike Adams, Round 2, Pick 56, Pittsburgh Steelers

The tackle situation in Pittsburgh is not great, so the fact that the Steelers were able to pick up someone like Adams with the 56th pick is an absolute coup. Adams' status was lowered because of the impermissible benefits he got at OSU, not because of any lack of talent, and if he hadn't missed five games, he would have been picked long before here. 


Keshawn Martin, Round 4, Pick 121, Houston Texans

The Texans bolstered their WR situation in a big way on Saturday, leading their day off with the selection of Ohio State wideout DeVier Posey with the fifth pick of the third round, then nabbing Martin later. Martin was one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the Big Ten last year, and his open-field abilities should translate well into the NFL. 


Jared Crick, Round 4, Pick 126, Houston Texans

Crick was, when healthy, an absolute terror on Nebraska's defensive line. He was lost for the year early in 2011 with a shoulder injury, which sent his draft stock plummeting, but even the recovery from that injury and his move to defensive end for the NFL shouldn't justify him falling all the way to the late fourth round. His potential's still all there.


Alfonzo Dennard, Round 7, Pick 224, New England Patriots

Clearly, Dennard hurt his own stock by getting arrested for assaulting a police officer a week before the NFL draft. That takes spectacularly poor judgment. But Dennard's talent level is way, way above a seventh-round pick, and if anyone knows how to craft a game plan around its players, it's New England. Expect big things here.