Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 23, 2015

The trend in recent years has been for NFL teams to avoid drafting running backs in the first round. The first back didn?t come off the board in 2014 until the 54th pick. The Big Ten hasn?t been immune to that trend.

In the last 10 drafts, since 2005, the Big Ten has had just three running backs taken in the first round: Minnesota?s Laurence Maroney (2006), Illinois? Rashard Mendenhall (2008) and Ohio State?s Beanie Wells (2009). And five drafts have passed since Wells was the last Big Ten back taken in the draft?s opening round. Add it all up, and the Big Ten has had 33 running backs, including Maryland, Nebraska and Rutgers, taken since 2005.

The Big Ten likely will end its first-round drought in this year?s draft, as Wisconsin?s Melvin Gordon looks primed to be a top selection. There also is an outside chance Indiana?s Tevin Coleman could go in the opening round in what is lauded by many as a deep collection of backs available nation-wide.

Other Big Ten backs primed to be picked in 2015 are Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, Michigan State's Jeremy Langford and Minnesota's David Cobb. And fullbacks Mike Burton of Rutgers and Mark Weisman of Iowa also may be tabbed.

Ohio State and Wisconsin have led the way in producing running backs picked in the NFL draft over the last 10 years, with each school having five selections. The Buckeyes have produced Maurice Clarett (2005, Broncos); Antonio Pittman (2007, Saints); Wells; Dan Herron (2012, Bengals); Carlos Hyde (2014, 49ers). The Badgers have seen Anthony Davis (2005, Colts); Brian Calhoun (2006, Lions); Bradie Ewing (2012, Falcons); Montee Ball (2013, Broncos); James White (2014, Patriots) get picked.

Here is a look at the Big Ten running back NFL draft leader board from 2005-14.

Ohio State: 5

Wisconsin: 5

Rutgers: 4

Michigan State: 3

Nebraska: 3

Penn State: 3

Illinois: 2

Iowa: 2

Michigan: 2

Minnesota: 2

Maryland: 1

Northwestern: 1

Indiana: 0

Purdue: 0



Laurence Maroney, 21st, 2006/Patriots

Rashard Mendenhall, 23rd, Illinois 2008/Steelers

Beanie Wells, 31st, Ohio State 2009/Cardinals

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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