National Football League Selects 41 Big Ten Student-Athletes in 2006 Draft
Forty-one Big Ten Conference student-athletes were selected during the 2006 National Football League (NFL) draft held over the weekend, an increase of 11 over last year's draft crop and the league's second-highest total in the last five years trailing only the 44 players chosen in 2004. The Big Ten was one of only two conferences to feature more than 40 draftees along with the ACC (51).
Ohio State led the way for the Big Ten with nine selections, including five first-round choices to break the school record of four first-round picks set in 1971. The Buckeyes' five first-round draftees are the second-highest number of first-round picks from one school in NFL history, trailing only the six first-rounders from Miami (Fla.) in 2004. Ohio State was one of only four schools with nine or more draft picks last weekend along with the Hurricanes (9), Southern California (11) and Virginia Tech (9).
A total of eight conference players were selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft, highlighted by a pair of Buckeyes among the top 10 in linebacker A.J. Hawk and defensive back Donte Whitner. Hawk, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Lombardi Award winner, was the first league player chosen at fifth overall by Green Bay, followed by fellow first-team All-Big Ten pick Whitner at No. 8 by Buffalo. Hawk is the fourth conference standout to be among the top five picks in the last four drafts, joining Michigan's Braylon Edwards (3rd in 2005), Iowa's Robert Gallery (2nd in 2004) and Michigan State's Charles Rogers (2nd in 2003).
Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway was the third Big Ten player drafted after being picked by Minnesota at No. 17 while Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Tamba Hali of Penn State (20th to Kansas City) and Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney (21st to New England) were also picked in the opening round. The other Ohio State student-athletes chosen in the first round were linebacker Bobby Carpenter (18th to Dallas), wide receiver Santonio Holmes (25th to Pittsburgh) and center Nick Mangold (29th to New York Jets). The entire list of conference draftees appears below.
The Big Ten will hold the 2006 Football Media Days and 35th annual Kickoff Luncheon on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 1-2, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, featuring all 11 head coaches and some of the conference's top returning players. The 111th season of Big Ten football kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 31, with Minnesota battling Kent State and Northwestern playing Miami (Ohio). The remaining league teams take the field on Saturday, Sept. 2, for non-conference action.
Big Ten Selections in 2006 NFL Draft