Big Ten Draft
By Tony Gerdeman
I have a confession--I’m a bit of a draft geek. In fact, I used to write mock drafts and send them to a buddy of mine, including fake quotes from the teams regarding their selections. (This was back when Dave Wannstedt was in the league, so the material was endless.)
And back in the day, me and another buddy used to go watch the first round of the NFL draft at a bar and we’d have to ask somebody to change the channel so that we could watch it. Imagine sidling up to the bar and telling the barmaid, “Hey, we’d like to watch the draft.”
“You wanna watch the ‘what’?”
“Oh, what kind of draft do you want?”
“Just please put it on ESPN.”
You’d think they’d never had two guys walk into a bar and want to watch the NFL draft when everybody else around them is listening to Jimmy Buffett’s greatest hits and shooting pool.
So this week with the Spring Game Draft (yes, it’s all capitalized--because that’s how important it is!) on Wednesday, and the NFL Draft starting on Thursday, you could say I’m in a bit of Draftnik Heaven right now. And with all of the draft talk in the air, it got me wondering: What would happen if the Big Ten permitted a draft between conference teams?
I’ve only included the first round below, because honestly, I could go about 18 rounds on this puppy, but you would have lost interest long ago.
In my draft, however, there would be a few stipulations: 1) A team can only lose one player per round; 2) You can’t draft a player from your own team in an attempt to save him from a life at Michigan; 3) Once a player is drafted, he cannot be re-drafted by anybody else; and 4) Matt Millen is not permitted within 15 miles of this draft.
So with all of that out of the way, the draft order will be based on last year’s conference record, with the worst team getting the first pick.
And with that, the Indiana Hoosiers are on the clock…
1. Indiana - Terrelle Pryor, QB The Ohio State University
This is an obvious slam dunk pick. Perhaps the only team in the conference that wouldn’t select Pryor would be Michigan because they already have three quarterbacks who are better. The Hoosiers already have a quarterback (Ben Chappell) as well, so this is not an area of need. (LOL!) But the last time Indiana went to a bowl game, it was in 2007 with the athletic Kellen Lewis rushing for 700+ yards and throwing for 3,000+. Terrelle Pryor could do the same for the Hoosiers, if not more.
2. Michigan - Greg Jones, LB Michigan State University
What do you get for the man who has nothing? The one thing that Rich Rodriguez has yet to have at Michigan is a competent inside linebacker who doesn’t fill holes about as well as a gust of wind. Jones would immediately make that gimmick of a Wolverine defense better. They could go to a 2-2-7 and as long as Jones is on the field, he’ll make something happen.
3. Illinois - Adrian Clayborn, DE University of Iowa
Ron Zook is likely in his last year at Illinois, so he would have liked to have made a splash with this pick. However, with new offensive coordinator Paul Petrino in the fold--and Juice Williams out of it, the offense should be fine. Instead, they’ll focus on the defense, and since Clayborn is the best guy out there, they’ll snatch him up and happily watch him practice for a while until he happens into some unfortunate situation which costs him the season. Probably something along the lines of helping somebody move a couch into an apartment, and while walking it upstairs, a pet ferret comes bounding down the cushions right for Clayborn’s face, but since he’s never seen a ferret before, he’ll think it’s some type of tapeworm squirrel on account of how long and skinny it is, and since he’s always heard about how terrible tapeworm is, he’ll lose his grip on the couch and drop it. It will then wipe him out and take him all the way to the bottom of the stairs before landing on him with a hellacious ‘thud’ and dislocating a hip or two. Zook will later say something about it being completely unavoidable because squirrels with tapeworm are no laughing matter.
4. Minnesota - John Clay, RB University of Wisconsin
In order to fully implement Tim Brewster’s revolutionary power running game, he’ll look to finally employ a power running back. And John Clay is the best choice in the league. Brewster will laud his selection and bellow out promises to Gopher backers that they will finally see a rugged brand of football that they have never seen before. And sitting in his living room somewhere, Glen Mason will say loud enough for his wife to hear it over in the next room (because once you get fired, you‘re constantly trying to prove to your wife that the firing was uncalled for), “Hey, why didn’t I think of that?”
5. Purdue - Evan Royster, RB Penn State University
The Boilermakers need a legitimate running game, and with their top back Ralph Bolden possibly out for the season with a knee injury, they’d definitely have to look at adding the top available running threat in the conference. But instead of taking Denard Robinson, they’ll go ahead and take Evan Royster. Don’t worry about Penn State though--Joe Pa will never notice. The only mention of it will be one day in passing this summer as Joe Pa reminisces and says, “Remember that ‘Rooster’ kid we had a few years back?”
6. Michigan State - Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue University
This is the point of the draft where it starts to get interesting. As we get deeper, there are fewer teams to draft from, so it becomes a matter of taking the best player available, or replacing what you’ve already lost in the draft. There really isn’t a linebacker from the available pool that would be more valuable for the Spartans than taking Kerrigan here. Plus, they lose defensive end Trevor Anderson and would now have a chance to replace him with somebody who actually has talent. One other possibility would be Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh, simply because Mark Dantonio wouldn’t believe that he could possibly be as bad as Michigan has made him look. He of course would soon realize that it wasn’t Michigan who was making Ezeh look bad--it was everybody else.
7. Wisconsin - Mike Martin, DT University of Michigan
The Badgers lost defensive end O’Brien Schofield to graduation and John Clay to the draft. They’re okay enough at running back, plus I don’t think Illinois, Indiana or Northwestern has a running back worth taking--unless the Badgers are somehow totally in love with Jordan Mabin’s high school running back skills for some creepy reason. And unfortunately, there aren’t really any defensive ends available that can do what Schofield did, so the Badgers are sort of in the “best defensive lineman available boat”. Martin would be a great fit at Wisconsin, provided Michigan’s “Saved By The Bell: The College Years” of a defense hasn’t soiled him forever.
8. Northwestern - Terry Hawthorne, DB University of Illinois
The Wildcats lose cornerback Sherrick McManus and both safeties, so they need help in the secondary. Unfortunately, they only have Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota to choose from. But I’m high on Hawthorne, and he possesses the athletic ability to play either cornerback or safety. He had a pretty good year under Zook last year as a freshman, so there’s no telling how good he could be if he got away from Zook.
9. Penn State - Jordan Mabin, CB Northwestern University
Losing two of their three cornerbacks from last season, the Nittany Lions are going to be looking to bring somebody in who can step right in and play. Jordan Mabin can do that, and by bringing him in, they will effectively lock up their secondary for the next two seasons--provided nobody drafts them in the future, of course. And since it’s a Penn State secondary, I don’t think there will be too many teams clamoring for a [comment removed for racially-insensitive remarks directed at Penn State’s slow, white safeties].
10. Iowa - Tandon Doss, WR Indiana University
Ideally (as if such a word could be uttered when you’re choosing between the dregs of the Big Ten), the Hawkeyes would have preferred to select Northwestern defensive end Vince Browne to offset the loss of Adrian Clayborn. But since Penn State just selected Jordan Mabin, Iowa was down to the Hoosiers and the Gophers, so they went with the best player available at a position of almost need. They’d certainly find a way to use Doss, who is a big, fast and skilled receiver. Especially when you consider the fact that Derrell Johnson-Koulianos will be in the doghouse by June.
11. Ohio State - MarQueis Gray, QB University of Minnesota
Having lost their quarterback, and unable to take Denard Robinson, the Buckeyes would settle for a reasonable facsimile by selecting Gray with the final pick of the first round. He played a bit as a true freshman last year, but the Buckeyes would quickly get him up to speed on how to excel in the Ohio State offense. Firstly, hand the ball off. Secondly, don’t turn the ball over. Thirdly, can you pooch kick?
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