NFL Draft 2011: Who Will Be the First Big Ten Player Selected?

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NFL Draft 2011: Who Will Be the First Big Ten Player Selected?
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Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan could be the first Big Ten player selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Check out all of the mock drafts you want, but you will be hard pressed to find many that have a Big Ten player being drafted in the first 10 picks. The last time a Big Ten player was drafted so high was in 2008 when Michigan's Jake Long was selected first overall by the Miami Dolphins. Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston was drafted with the sixth pick by the New York Jets.

Only three times (2002, 2009, 2010) since 2000 has the Big Ten failed to produce a top 10 draft pick.

In 2000, two Penn State players were drafted with the top two draft picks. Defensive end Courtney Brown went first overall to the Cleveland Browns and linebacker LaVar Arrington was drafted second overall by the Washington Redskins. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Michigan State wide receiver Plaxico Burress with the eighth overall pick to make it three Big Ten players drafted in the top 10.

After that draft only four Big Ten players were drafted in the top 10 over the next five drafts.

In 2001, Michigan receiver David Terrell was drafted with the eighth pick by the Chicago Bears and was the lone Big Ten representative. After no Big Ten players went in the top 10 in 2002 for the first time since 1993, Michigan State wide receiver Charles Rogers was drafted second overall by the Detroit Lions. Oakland drafted Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery second overall in 2004. Michigan's Braylon Edwards was drafted third overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2005.

Ohio State landed two top 10 draft selections in the 2006 NFL draft with linebacker A.J. Hawk going to the Green Bay Packers fifth overall and Donte Whitner going to the Buffalo Bills eighth overall. The 2007 NFL draft saw three Big Ten players go in the top 10 with Wisconsin's Joe Thomas going to Cleveland (third), Penn State offensive tackle Levi Brown going to the Arizona Cardinals (fifth) and Ted Ginn Jr. going to Miami (ninth).

So what will the 2011 NFL Draft have in store for the Big Ten?

Essentially, don't count on any Big Ten players being drafted before the 15th overall pick if you take much credence in a variety of mock drafts. Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan appears to be the player most likely to be drafted next week, but most mock drafts have the Boilermaker going after the 15th pick, with the 16th pick being a common landing spot for him.

Wisconsin's once-promising offensive tackle Gabe Carimi may still be one of the top tackles in the draft, but even his draft stock has taken a hit since the end of the college football season.

In fact, Carimi may not even be the first Badger selected by an NFL franchise as defensive end J.J. Watt has been recognized as a top-20 caliber player. The problem, of course, becomes finding a team that needs your position. For Carimi, there are only a couple of teams with a great need for a lineman in the first round and most of them are just outside the top ten.

Some other players from the Big Ten who have a shot to go in the first round include Ohio State defensive end Cam Heyward, Illinois defensive end Corey Liuget and inside linebacker Martez Wilson. Penn State center Stefen Wisniewski is one of the top centers in the draft but even he may be more likely to be going in the second round.

The Big Ten will have players drafted in the first round, but there will be time to get seconds at your draft party before it happens.

 

Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Examiner.com. Follow his college football discussion on Twitter     @CFBExaminer.

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