Thirty former Big Ten stars were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. There were four Day 1 picks, 12 Day 2 picks and 14 Day 3 picks. Which player landed in the best situation, though? That’s what the BTN.com team was wondering. See its picks, plus Big Ten fans’ Twitter nominations, in this post.
Tom Dienhart: CB Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State), Cincinnati. Anyone who follows Cincinnati knows cornerback was the team’s biggest area of need. To see Darqueze Dennard slide to their spot was a bonus for the Bengals. Terence Newman is aging and likely will be gone after this season. Dre Kirkpatrick, a No. 1 pick in 2012, has been a flop. Pacman Jones is coming off an average 2013 season. Leon Hall is a stud but has had issues staying healthy. Add it up, and nabbing Dennard answers a big question.
Sean Merriman: RB James White (Wisconsin), New England. The Patriots have been searching for a consistent answer at tailback since Corey Dillon retired all the way back in 2006. It’s no secret that Tom Brady loves to include his halfbacks in the passing game, which is an area where White really excels. In fact, the former Badger back holds the school record for the most career receiving yards by a running back (670). Also, New England had a huge problem with their halfbacks fumbling the football last season, while White only fumbled twice in 754 career touches at Wisconsin. He will have to compete with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden for carries, but that hasn’t stopped White, who shared carries with the likes of John Clay, Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon during his four years in Madison. This seems like an ideal fit for both White and the Patriots.
Brent Yarina: WR Cody Latimer (Indiana), Denver. Let me spotlight a few numbers to help state my case: 425 (completions); 5,068 (passing yards); 46 (touchdown passes). Those are the eye-popping, staggering, you name the adjective, numbers Peyton Manning has averaged in his two seasons in Denver. Like countless receivers before Latimer, he will benefit from Manning’s greatness. Even as the team’s likely fifth option, behind Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, there’s enough passes to go around for Latimer to make an impact. Consider this: Four Denver pass-catchers hauled in double-digit touchdown receptions last season. So, the ball is in the air A LOT, and that doesn’t change when the Broncos near the end zone.
Here’s who Big Ten fans nominated on Twitter: