The 2013 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, which means that now is the perfect time to start predicting where certain players will end up. As for the Big Ten, this isn't a deep draft class for the conference, but there are plenty of former star college football players who will hope to hear their name called once April arrives.
The SEC will dominate this draft once again, but there are many interesting players from the Big Ten that are also worth a look. A lot of these guys will be selected in the later rounds; however, if we have learned anything about previous drafts, it is that this is where majority of the success is found. There isn't much star power from this group, but there is a bunch of upside for players that could end up making a big impact in the NFL.
So, let's take a look at some of the best Big Ten prospects from the 2013 NFL Draft and where they will likely be selected.
What He Brings to the Table: Le’Veon Bell is a big back at 6'1", 230 pounds, who has the size and has proven at Michigan State to be a workhorse runner. Despite being one of the biggest backs in this class, he ran a surprising 4.6 at the NFL combine, which should only improve his draft stock come April. Bell also has deceptive lateral agility that allows him to make people miss in the open field. However, he must improve as a blocker if he wants to be an every-down player.
Where He Will Be Selected: Third or fourth round (One of the more underrated runners in this class. His ability to shoulder a heavy workload makes him a valuable option in the middle rounds)
Teams That May Bite: New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers
What He Brings to the Table: Jordan Hill is a small defensive tackle at 6'1", barely 300 pounds. Due to his lack of size, he would likely fit as a one-gap nose tackle at the next level. Some of the positives are that he has really quick feet and can really fire off the football. He has a really good motor, and he is capable of chasing down ball carries with his relentless pursuit. Hill is a hustle player who will give it 100 percent effort on every down.
Where He Will Be Selected: Third or fourth round (Not an elite player, who is limited with his lack of size. However, the effort he provides and quickness off the ball will give him a great chance to make an NFL roster)
Teams That May Bite: Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints
What He Brings to the Table: William Gholston is still raw, but if you are looking for one of the steals in this draft, he may be it. He has terrific size at 6'6", 281 pounds, great length, and he is physical at the point of attack. A natural strong player, he will only continue to fill out his frame and could develop into a beast. He uses his long arms to help shed blocks and can interrupt passing lanes with the best of them. Questions about his motor are the reason Gholston isn't as high on NFL draft boards.
Where He Will Be Selected: Fourth or fifth round (I could see Gholston going as early as the third round due to his overall skill set. He has the potential to be special, but could end up being a bust similar to his cousin Vernon Gholston)
Teams That May Bite: Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons
What He Brings to the Table: Much like Jordan Hill, Akeem Spence is another undersized defensive lineman at 6'1", 307 pounds. However, similar to the former Nittany Lion, Spence fires off the ball and packs a physical punch that NFL teams should like. He uses his hands well and brings a lot of energy out on the football field. Overall, he is a disruptive player who is effective at shooting gaps, shedding blocks and making a play on the ball carrier.
Where He Will Be Selected: Third or fourth round (Not much of a household name, and his size doesn't help his case, but Spence should end up being a solid player at the next level)
Teams That May Bite: Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints
What He Brings to the Table: Who knows? Denard Robinson spent his entire career playing quarterback and then the final half of last year lining up as a running back. Now, he is going to play wide receiver. We haven't seen much to judge him at his new position, but we do know that he has incredible athleticism and is somebody who is willing to work hard. His track speed and ability to make people miss in the open field will intrigue a lot of NFL teams. He is a versatile athlete that can help out in a variety of different ways.
Where He Will Be Selected: Fifth or sixth round (Robinson could be selected higher due to everything he brings to the table. But if teams want a safe pick, selecting him in the later rounds would probably be the best bet)
Teams That May Bite: Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions
What He Brings to the Table: The first thing that jumps off the screen when watching John Simon is his relentless motor. This kid plays the game with high intensity and never gives up on the play, which is something coaches are going to love. He also has quick feet that allow him to get in on the action and make up for average athleticism. Simon doesn't have a true position at this point, but could provide a team with a playmaker at either defensive end or outside linebacker.
Where He Will Be Selected: Second or third round (Not the most athletic player in this class and doesn't have much upside to his game. Still, the motor and energy he brings to the table is good enough to earn a solid selection)
Teams That May Bite: Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets
What He Brings to the Table: Similar to Le’Veon Bell, Montee Ball is your typical cowbell running back who has a downhill running style and rarely goes down on initial contact. He runs with a low center of gravity and has a nose for the end zone like none other. Another thing that is underrated when it comes to Ball is his ability to help out in pass protection and pick up the extra man. Ball was a stud in college, but his lack of athleticism and speed will hurt his stock a bit more than most expected.
Where He Will Be Selected: Third or fourth round (Ball isn't extremely high on draft boards due to a ton of carries he received in college. This allows him the chance to provide a team with a steal in the later rounds)
Teams That May Bite: Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals
What He Brings to the Table: Travis Frederick is a well-built lineman at 6'4", 312 pounds. The thing that stands out with him the most is his high football IQ and his versatility. This is somebody who not only started as a true-freshman at Wisconsin, but also has experience playing both the guard and center position. Strong at the point of attack, Frederick will be able to hold his own against even the bigger defensive linemen at the next level. His downfall would be that he doesn't have the quickest of feet, which allows him to get beaten at times by shiftier defenders.
Where He Will Be Selected: Second or third round (Due to the massive frame and versatility, Frederick won't have to wait long to hear his name called)
Teams That May Bite: New York Giants, Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers
What He Brings to the Table: Kawann Short has the size that you want to see from a defensive tackle at 6'3", 299 pounds. He actually trimmed down for the combine, and his current weight is where you want to see him, as he will be more effective. Short is somebody who saw a lot of double-teams at Purdue, but still managed to hold his ground. He gets off the ball well and is a dominant run defender due to his overall strength and long arms. If there is a concern with Short, it would be his lack of motor.
Where He Will Be Selected: First or second round (With the upside that Short has, he will be taken early in the draft. However, with the defensive tackle position being deep this year, seeing him slip towards the early second round wouldn't be surprising)
Teams That May Bite: Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks
What He Brings to the Table: Johnathan Hankins has the prototypical look of a defensive tackle at 6'3", 320 pounds, with long arms and a physical style of play. This is somebody who has great athleticism for his size, plays with good pad level and is tough to move at the point of attack. Hankins does a good job of getting off the ball and is great at helping out in the running game. Another thing that he brings to the table is versatility, as he can lineup over the center, or play the five-technique as well.
Where He Will Be Selected: First or second round (Hankins is somebody who will be an impact player right away. He will be selected early)
Teams That May Bite: Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys