Big Ten links: 2017 NFL Draft, Nebraska team unity & more

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: 2017 NFL Draft, Nebraska team unity & more

Now that Ohio State’s mega 2016 draft is history, what will the Buckeyes’ 2017 draft look like?

Two days after the 2015 draft ended, Cleveland.com presented the possibility of 18 Ohio State players finding their way into the NFL this spring. It ended up being 15: Twelve draft picks plus three undrafted free agents. Ohio State’s 2017 number won’t be that high. Or at least there isn’t enough established talent on the Buckeyes roster to throw out a number anywhere close to 18 or 15. Even 10 feels way too high. Cleveland.com’s guess: Seven Buckeyes drafted in 2017 would still be a good weekend.

More draft projections: Here are 10 Michigan players who could be picked in 2017.

You know TE Jake Butt will be a high pick. I was surprised he came back for 2016.

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Sam McKewon of Omaha.com had a nice conversation with Nebraska coach Mike Riley, who talks upgrades and unity as he looks to continue to put his stamp on this program. Make no mistake about it: This is a big season for Riley, who is coming off a 6-7 debut.

Riley has met with players. And he surveyed them, looking for leadership and influence. Among the interesting questions:

  • If your girlfriend were going to a party, which three teammates would you trust to take her?
  • If someone — say an older woman — were stranded on the road, which three teammates would be most likely to help her?

Very revealing.

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NJ.com has a nice piece on Eric LeGrand and how he is such a hero to so many who have disabilities.

LeGrand has come a long way over the past six years and has defied the predictions of many doctors who told him he would likely always need a ventilator to breathe. During physical therapy, he’s been able to stand upright using a metal frame and electrical stimulation. And, he even has regained some movement in his fingers.

“Every now and again, if I’m concentrating, I can get my fingers to twitch,” he said.

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InsideNU.com has a good podcast with Wildcat boss Pat Fitzgerald in which they discuss a wide range of topics, from Fitz’s personal life, to his team’s 10-win season, to his thoughts on recruiting and college football as a whole.

I am fascinated to see how NU does coming off its big 2015.

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Iowa had to wait until the final round of the draft before seeing its first Hawkeye was picked, as center Austin Blythe came off the board with the 248th picks in a 253-man draft. The last time Iowa didn’t have a player selected? It was 1977.

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Count Mark Dantonio among those who was disappointed to live through Connor Cook’s fall in the NFL draft.

“I was probably living through the entire thing, as well, watched the entire draft,” Dantonio said. “I was disappointed. I think that Connor is an excellent football player. He’s done a tremendous job for us here and for his football team, and a lot of that success that we’ve had can be credited to his play and his leadership on our football team.”

I still don’t know if I was shocked or not by Cook’s drop. Part of me was … and part of me wasn’t.

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Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com is always all over the Big 12. Will this league ever expand to actually be 12 teams?

In the end, this will come down to money—it always does. And, this report makes it sound like if the Big 12 stands pat, its revenue will lag the SEC and Big Ten by millions in the future.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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