April 24, 2008
Park Ridge, Ill. - Michigan All-American Jake Long leads the Big Ten's contingent of top players set for another strong showing in the National Football League (NFL) Draft. Long will become the 13th Big Ten student-athlete to be selected first overall when the 2008 event takes place from April 26-27 in New York.
Miami holds the top pick in the draft and has already announced that the team has come to contractual terms with Long and will select him with the No. 1 pick. The two-time Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year becomes the first offensive lineman to go first overall since 1997, when St. Louis selected Ohio State's Orlando Pace. Long will be the 13th Big Ten standout to be chosen No. 1 and the first since Penn State's Courtney Brown in 2000. The complete list of overall top picks from the Big Ten appears below.
Over the last five years, an average of 36.6 Big Ten student-athletes has been chosen in the NFL Draft on an annual basis, including six first-round selections per year. The Big Ten and the SEC are the only two conferences to boast an average of at least 36 players and six first-rounders since 2003. At least 40 Big Ten players have been drafted on two occasions, including a high of 44 selections in 2004, a total that ranks second over the last five drafts to the ACC's 51 players chosen in 2006.
Among Big Ten teams, Ohio State ranks first nationally with 39 players chosen by NFL teams over the past five years, followed by Miami of Florida (36), Florida State (33) and Southern California (30). Fourteen Buckeyes were drafted in 2004, the highest single-season total for any school over the five-year span.
The Big Ten and SEC top all conferences with five different institutions boasting at least 20 NFL selections over the last five years, followed by the ACC (3), Big 12 (3) and Pac-10 (2). Other Big Ten programs to produce 20 or more NFL draft picks since 2003 include Michigan (23), Penn State (21), Iowa (20) and Wisconsin (20), while Purdue has recorded 18 NFL draftees during that time.
The Big Ten will hold the 2008 Football Media Days and 37th annual Kickoff Luncheon on Thursday and Friday, July 24-25, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, featuring all 11 head coaches and some of the conference's top returning players. The 113th season of Big Ten football kicks off on Saturday, August 30, with 10 of 11 schools in action.
BIG TEN PLAYERS SELECTED FIRST OVERALL IN NFL DRAFT
2008 - Jake Long, Michigan
2000 - Courtney Brown, Penn State
1997 - Orlando Pace, Ohio State
1995 - Ki-Jana Carter, Penn State
1994 - Dan Wilkinson, Ohio State
1990 - Jeff George, Illinois
1979 - Tom Cousineau, Ohio State
1967 - Bubba Smith, Michigan State
1966 - Jim Grabowski, Illinois
1959 - Randy Duncan, Iowa
1941 - Tom Harmon, Michigan
1938 - Corbett Davis, Indiana
1936 - Jay Berwanger, Chicago*
*first ever NFL Draft
Note: Neither Berwanger nor Davis played in the NFL.
What the NFL is Saying
Jim Chaney, St. Louis Rams Tight Ends Coach
"(Big Ten guys) have played in front of 80,000 people and 90,000 people and have been expected to play at a high level with a lot of pressure on them . . . I believe in the Big Ten there is a higher set of academic standards for players to be eligible and those kids learn earlier in their careers about discipline on and off the field. They have been forced to be disciplined throughout four or five years of performance at the collegiate level, which helps them, once again, when they transition into the very disciplined lifestyle of the NFL."
Eric DeCosta, Baltimore Ravens Director of College Scouting
"Winning programs produce winning players. In my experience, prospects from the Big Ten are typically some of the smartest and toughest football players in the entire country. We like the fact that these players come from programs that have developed great football traditions."
Herm Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach
"Football is a physical game. It's about blocking and tackling. Traditionally, the players that I've coached from the Big Ten are fundamentally-sound football players. Personally, I put a premium on tough players who enjoy the game of football."
Greg Gabriel, Chicago Bears Director of College Scouting
"Chicago is in the heart of Big Ten country so for obvious reasons we closely look at players from that conference. We have many players on our roster that played at Big Ten schools and they have been successful for us. The Big Ten plays a very good brand of football; they play high-intensity games in front of big crowds and that is very similar to what we see in the NFL. It makes the transition from college to pro that much easier."
Jim Lippincott, Cincinnati Bengals Director of Football Operations and Lead Scout
"From a scouting perspective, going to a Big Ten game is almost fruitless. There are so many prospects in a Big Ten game, a scout can't do justice. Big Ten versus Big Ten is a very difficult thing to scout."
Bill Polian, Indianapolis Colts President
"We've got a lot of Big Ten football players on our team, probably more than most. It may well be that we place such a high value on really liking the game of football, and toughness, and football intelligence and character that you know when you put that all together, that's the hallmark of a lot of Big Ten football programs."
Rick Spielman, Minnesota Vikings Vice President for Player Personnel
"We always have had high regard for the Big Ten Conference as year in and year out they produce high quality NFL players. Having a brother that played in the conference (Chris at Ohio State) and growing up in Big Ten country, I have always valued its rich traditions."