In a recent interview with Gil Brandt, our conversation turned to the lack of high-level Big Ten prospects for the NFL draft this week.
The NFL.com analyst and former Dallas Cowboys executive then basically agreed with what most mock drafts are saying: The Big Ten more than likely won’t have a player taken in the first round.
“I don’t remember that happening,” said Brandt, who seems blessed with one of the better memories that you’ll find.
Well, here’s why: It hasn’t happened since 1953.
The Big Ten has had at least one first-round pick in 60 straight NFL drafts. It also has had at least three first-round selections in 29 of the last 31 drafts, with at least a half-dozen in 11 of those since 1982.
Thinking of possible long shot picks for Thursday night, Brandt threw out the names of Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short and Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball. Maybe Ohio State defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins.
“Other than that, there’s nobody there,” he said.
In a way, it just adds to a pattern brewing in the last few years.
The Big Ten had players taken somewhere in the first five picks between 2003 and 2008, capped by Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long going No. 1 overall in ’08. In the following four NFL drafts, however, the first Big Ten players were selected at No. 11, No. 13, No. 11 and No. 23.
Prior to 2009, the Big Ten had failed to have a player go in the Top 10 just three times since 1977 (No. 12 in 2002, No. 13 in 1993 and No. 17 in 1991).
Nebraska won’t be able to help the cause this year with I-back Rex Burkhead projected as a mid-round prospect. It had a second-round pick a year ago with linebacker Lavonte David after its first season as a Big Ten member in 2011.