Web links: NFL draftees, the Heisman & more

The NFL draft kicked off for the Big Ten like most anticipated: With a thud. The good news: At least a Big Ten player was selected, helping the league avoid being shutout of the first round for the first time since 1953. Wisconsin center Travis Frederick was a surprise selection at No. 31 overall by the Dallas Cowboys.

Most felt the Big Ten players with the best chances to be picked on Thursday night were Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short. Today, rounds two and three will be conducted; rounds four through seven will be held on Sunday. Expect plenty of Big Ten players to come off the board then.

After watching three of the first four picks in the draft be offensive tackles—a first in NFL draft annals–is Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan bummed that he didn’t turn pro?

He says “No.” Still, Lewan was thought by most to be one of the top two or three offensive tackles in the draft—had he entered it after a standout junior season that saw him earn Big Ten Offensive Linemen of the Year honors. As it was, six of the first 11 picks were offensive linemen on Thursday night.

No doubt, Lewan left a lot of cash on the table. But, I like his love of Michigan and willingness to continue to learn, grow and mentor others.

No Illinois players were picked in the first round of the NFL draft. But they will come off the board the next two days, continuing what has been a nice recent run in the draft for Illinois players.

In the last four drafts, 15 Illinois players have been selected even though the Illini have a 22-28 mark over that span.

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Penn State knows it has a stud defensive end in Deion Barnes, the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. But who is gonna play opposite of him now that Sean Stanley is gone? Brad Bars, C.J. Olanyian and Anthony Zettel are the main candidates for what could be a very good defense in 2013.

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Raise your hand if you knew who Mark Weisman was at this time last year? Exactly. None of you. Well, now he’s a leader of an unproven Iowa offense. Iowa fans will enjoy watching replays of Weisman running over foes on this new massive video board to be installed in Kinnick Stadium for 2013.

One last Hawkeye item: Does quarterback James Vandenberg have an NFL future? Perhaps, despite his clunky 2012.

No, he likely won’t be picked—which seemed like a certainty after a strong 2011—but Vandenberg likely will hook on as a free agent.

“He’s got the arm strength, he’s got the size, he’s got the intellect …,” Dan Shonka, national scout and general manager of Ourlads Scouting Services, told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “Somebody will bring him into camp for sure for his arm.”

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The Heisman Pundit is out with his early preseason Heisman watch list. And, it’s a beautiful thing. Five Big Ten players made the cut: Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah; Michigan QB Devin Gardner; Northwestern RB Venric Mark; Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez; Ohio State QB Braxton Miller. Sounds about right.

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Excitement already is generating at Iowa for the next basketball season. Why not? The Hawkeyes only lose Eric May from a team that made a run to the NIT tile game last season. Fran McCaffrey’s crew will be loaded and led by Roy Devyn Marble, who is likely gonna play the point after thriving in the spot down the stretch.

“I hope people look at us as a team that has a chance to be in contention,” McCaffery said at a recent I-Club function. “Some of the preseason prognostications have us ranked (nationally). I welcome the challenge. Now we’re in a position where we have to go out and perform that way.”

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No player created more buzz in the NCAA tourney than Michigan’s Mitch McGary. He averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds during the NCAA tournament run to the national title game– but just 6.2 points and 5.1 rebounds during the regular season. Some think the big freshman should have turned pro. Can he pick up where he left off and play at that level all next season?

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Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star takes a look at the ever-growing list of players who have transferred from Indiana. The latest: Mo Creek.

Hutchens was a bit shocked by Remy Abell’s departure; but not by Creek’s. So, just a few months ago, everyone was focused on the troubles that Tom Crean faced in the coming months as the Hoosiers had 16 players signed for 13 spots next season. And now, that number is 12 scholarship players for 13 spots. Will IU fill that last spot? Hmmm. I doubt. There aren’t many quality prospects left this spring. I would just bank the scholarship.

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Attention collectors: former Ohio State star John Havlicek’s 1960 national title ring is up for sale.

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TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: This is an amazing fact.

My take: Not a good start for the Big Ten.

My take: He isn’t the only one who’s surprised.

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About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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