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Grading Out The Big Ten In The 2014 NFL Draft

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Michigan continues to send high-profile players high in the NFL Draft, like left tackle Taylor Lewan this year. But the disparity in draft picks between the Wolverines and Michigan State are an indictment of the Wolverines under coach Brady Hoke the last few years. Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images.
Michigan continues to send high-profile players high in the NFL Draft, like left tackle Taylor Lewan this year. But the disparity in draft picks between the Wolverines and Michigan State are an indictment of the Wolverines under coach Brady Hoke the last few years. Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images.

The 2014 NFL Draft has come and gone, and another class of players exit the NCAA and head to the league.

After seven full rounds, 30 players from the Big Ten got drafted. It was good enough for fourth-most, but still far behind the SEC.  

Much of the focus following the draft deals with grading the teams, and how they performed during the draft. However, we will focus on grading out the Big Ten conference. How will I grade? I will take a look at the total drafted talent, those who went undrafted, and the overall impact it has on each program. It is highly subjective, but worthy of debate.  

Here is how the conference faired at the draft.

Illinois: D

Drafted: N/A
Undrafted: Jonathan Brown, Ryan Lankford

I don’t want to outright fail Illinois. They have been a bad team with subpar talent, and they only had two players getting consideration. It was not a big shock they failed to get anyone taken in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.  

The Fighting Illini should put a couple people through to the league in the coming years, and maybe we can see a turnaround sooner rather than later.  

Indiana: B

Drafted: Ted Bolser, Cody Latimer
Undrafted: Stephen Houston

The mighty Hoosiers put two of three into the league. That included one of the best wideouts in the entire draft in Cody Latimer.  

As Indiana begins to shine as an offensive powerhouse, putting two of its offensive weapons into the NFL will only continue to put them on the map. The Hoosiers can show recruits who they're sending to the league, and that Indiana is now a viable option to help them achieve their dreams of playing at the next level. 

Iowa: B

Drafted: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Anthony Hitchens, Christian Kirksey
Undrafted: Conor Boffeli, James Morris

Iowa has started to regain its form, and it showed in the draft.  

Kirksey offered a lot of value as a third-round selection. Iowa's three talents didn’t go high, but they went and should have productive careers. 

The draft showed that the Hawkeyes are ready to resume the role of a Big Ten contender.   

Michigan: B

Drafted: Jeremy Gallon, Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield
Undrafted: N/A

The Wolverines offered a curious case. All of Michigan's players in consideration got drafted, but nothing about them truly stands out that deserves an A grade.  

Michigan’s performances in recent years have left a lot to be desired, and it has talent on its roster. It has been evident, proven via the draft. Michigan just cannot put it together, but perhaps the tides will change in 2014.  

Consider it a solid draft from Michigan, but nothing special.  

Michigan State: C

Drafted: Darqueze Dennard
Undrafted: Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, Bennie Fowler, Isaiah Lewis

For a long time, Michigan State struggled to shed the state's role of “little brother," but it has done just that in recent years. A magical 2013 included Big Ten and Rose Bowl titles. Yet the Spartans only produced one drafted player.

Denicos Allen, Bennie Fowler and company played pivotal roles on the team last season and the depth of the 2014 draft class was a factor, but they were not draft-quality talents.

The draft was a disappointment in East Lansing, albeit with a shiny silver lining. It highlights that Michigan State overachieves while “big brother” Michigan underachieves.  

Minnesota: A

Drafted: Ra'Shede Hageman, Brock Vereen
Undrafted: Aaron Hill

Minnesota did not just send two players to the league; it sent two very good players to the league. Players who will champion the program from which they came, and players the Golden Gophers can point to in recruiting.

That is crucial for Minnesota as it tries to keep improving within the conference. It would have been stellar to get all three players drafted, but two out of three is not bad, especially for Minnesota. That was a big win for the program.  

Nebraska: C

Drafted: Quincy Enunwa, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Spencer Long
Undrafted: Ciante Evans, Taylor Martinez, Mo Seisay, Jeremiah Sirles

Much like their recent seasons, the draft was merely mediocre for the Cornhuskers.  

NFL teams took three Nebraska players, but four remained, including QB Taylor Martinez. He never was a big pro prospect, but he was the face of that team for multiple seasons. His inability to get drafted is telling for the Cornhuskers program.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste was the jewel of the Nebraska draft, and he should perform well at the next level.  

If Randy Gregory turns pro following the 2014 season, expect Nebraska’s grade to make a jump up next year.

Northwestern: F

Drafted: N/A
Undrafted: Kain Colter, Rashad Lawrence

Unlike Illinois, Northwestern has been a solid program. Failing to get a player drafted is not a good look for the program.  

Kain Colter was the focus of Northwestern's eyes. However, his major issue was the decision on what position he'll play. That question made his draft stock less than what it potentially could have been, and in turn made the Wildcats look weak.  

Ohio State: A

Drafted: C.B. Bryant, Carlos Hyde, Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort, Bradley Roby, Ryan Shazier
Undrafted: C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown, Andrew Norwell

One-fifth of the Big Ten’s drafted prospects came from the Buckeyes. That was a win. Not only that, but The Ohio State University sent some big-time talent to the next level.  

OSU never has had trouble pointing to the league to show it is one of the premier schools to attend if you want to get to the NFL, and that certainly did not change following the 2014 Draft. Urban Meyer and his coaching staff still show recruits that this is the program to be a part of if you have professional playing dreams.  

The school sent standouts on offense, defense and special teams to the next level.  

Penn State: C

Drafted: DaQuan Jones, Allen Robinson, John Urschel
Undrafted: Glenn Carson, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong

This draft was nothing special for the Nittany Lions, and that was to be expected.  

It has been a tumultuous few years for Penn State, but it ushers in a new era in the 2014 season.  

It is probably best to just check back next year on this front. There's not much to speak about concerning this draft in Happy Valley.

Purdue: C

Drafted: Ricardo Allen, Kevin Pamphile
Undrafted: Bruce Gaston, Rob Henry

Purdue is one of the worst teams in the nation, but it still finds ways to send players to the league. That speaks to its ability to recruit and develop talent.  

The Boilermakers didn’t have much talent to offer, but half of it got selected. At least the doom and gloom of the 2013 season didn’t follow the team all the way to the draft.

Wisconsin: B

Drafted: Jared Abbrederis, Beau Allen, Chris Borland, Dezmen Southward, James White
Undrafted: Ryan Groy, Jacob Pedersen

The Badgers of Wisconsin put a lot of good role players through to the NFL, but there was not much in the way of excitement.  

It is similar to how they operate on the field. Players that know their role, execute and achieve results. Nothing flashy.  

It fits with the program, and it keeps them right near the top of the conference. A solid all-around showing.