Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 8, 2014

The Big Ten should be well-represented in tonight?s first round of the NFL draft. Colleague Sean Merriman pointed out in a recent piece for that by almost every draft expert?s estimation, as many as five Big Ten players could hear their names called tonight.

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The first Big Ten player most likely off the board? Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Minnesota defensive tackle Ra?Shede Hageman and Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby also could be selected tonight during festivities at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.

In fact, there?s a chance a sixth Big Ten player may go tonight, as I have seen some mock drafts that have Indiana receiver Cody Latimer going late in the first round. If that happens, it would be the Hoosiers? first first-round pick since wideout Thomas Lewis in 1994.

If five or six Big Ten players do get tabbed tonight, it will be a far cry from last year?s draft. Remember that? The Big Ten would rather forget it, as it may be have been the conference?s worst ? draft ? ever.

The Big Ten almost was shutout of the first round for the first time since 1953 before the Dallas Cowboys selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick. Not exactly sexy. But, hey, it was a first-rounder.

By the time ?Mr. Irrelevant? was announced on Saturday last year, the Big Ten had just 22 picks. That was the conference?s lowest total since 1994, when an 11-member Big Ten produced just 21 selections.

Ohio State figures to carry the Big Ten?s flag the next three days with as many as 10 players picked-Shazier, Roby, Carlos Hyde, Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, Christian Bryant, Kenny Guiton, C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown.

[ MORE:'s Big Ten NFL mock draft ]

Michigan State and Wisconsin could have seven. For the Spartans, it could be Dennard, Max Bullough, Denicos Allen, Isaiah Lewis, Bennie Fowler, Fou Fonoti, Tyler Hoover.

For the Badgers, it could be Chris Borland, Jared Abbrederis, Dez Southward, Beau Allen, James White, Ryan Groy, Jacob Pedersen.

Iowa and Nebraska could have five. For the Hawkeyes: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens, James Morris, Connor Boffelli.

For the Cornhuskers: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Spencer Long, Quincy Enunwa, Taylor Martinez, Ciante Evans.

Penn State may have four-Allen Robinson, DaQuan Jones, John Urschel, Glenn Carson.

What?s a bit shocking is Michigan has as many apparent selections as Purdue. Lewan, Michael Schofield and Jeremy Gallon figure to be picked for the Wolverines. Ricardo Allen, Bruce Gaston and Cody Webster may be tabbed from the Boilermakers.

And bank on the Big Ten not having a quarterback selected in the first round. The last time it happened was in 1995, when Penn State?s Kerry Collins went No. 5 overall to Carolina. It likely will take another Nittany Lions quarterback to end that spell, as Christian Hackenberg looks like a sure-fire first-rounder who could come out as early as next year. This is a poor crop of quarterbacks for the league. Northwestern?s Kain Colter and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez figure to be picked, but not as signal-callers. Guiton could be picked as a QB-but late, if at all.

Here is one last look at some final mock drafts.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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