Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, April 28, 2015
NFL draft week has arrived!
The three day extravaganza is set to kick off with the first round on Thursday night in Chicago.
Several former Big Ten standouts are expected to hear their names called in the draft, including the likes of Brandon Scherff, Trae Waynes and Randy Gregory, who are all projected first-round selections.
I teamed up with BTN.com Senior Writer Tom Dienhart and Senior Web Editor Brent Yarina to create a list of the top three Big Ten NFL Draft prospects at each position.
Here's what we got.
1. Gary Nova, Rutgers
2. Trevor Siemian, Northwestern
3. C.J. Brown, Maryland
It's a down year for Big Ten quarterbacks in the NFL Draft. All three of these guys are projected to go late or undrafted, but all three should get tryouts with NFL teams.
1. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
2. Tevin Coleman, Indiana
3. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Gordon is the favorite to be drafted first in this group, but don't be surprised if all three of these backs are off the board by the end of the second round. The Big Ten was loaded at running back this past season, and the position will be well-represented in the draft.
1. Devin Smith, Ohio State
2. Devin Funchess, Michigan
3. Stefon Diggs, Maryland
Don't be surprised if Smith sneaks into the first round. He is an ultra-talented deep threat, and those type of receivers are at a premium in the NFL. Funchess should be a second round pick, while Diggs' speed and return ability should elevate his stock.
1. Maxx Williams, Minnesota
2. Tyler Kroft, Rutgers
2. Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
Many believe Williams will be the first tight end to come off the board, either late in the first round or early in the second. Kroft is a project with the frame to develop into an every-down tight end, while Heuerman is a more complete tight end with good hands.
1. Brandon Scherff, Iowa
2. Donovan Smith, Penn State
3. Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin
This is one of the deepest positions in the draft from a Big Ten standpoint. Scherff is expected to be a top 10 pick, while both Smith and Havenstein could land in the second or third round.
1. Brandon Vitabile, C, Northwestern
2. Miles Diffenbach, G, Penn State
3. Dallas Lewallen, G, Wisconsin
There's not a ton of depth here, but all three of these guys are tough, hard-working linemen who have the necessary work ethic to land a spot in the NFL.
1. Randy Gregory, Nebraska
2. Ryan Russell, Purdue
3. Marcus Rush, Michigan State
Gregory is one of the top pass rushers in this year's draft and a likely first round lock. Russell and Rush are expected to go somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds.
1. Carl Davis, Iowa
2. Michael Bennett, Ohio State
3. Bobby Richardson, Indiana
This is a talented trio of defensive tackles, led by Davis, who could sneak his way into the late first round.
1. Jake Ryan, Michigan
2. Mike Hull, Penn State
3. Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, Maryland
Ryan and Hull are very similar in the sense that both have the size, speed and physicality to play either inside or outside linebacker at the NFL level. Both should be mid-round picks, while Cudjoe-Virgil will likely be a late-round pick.
1. Taiwan Jones, Michigan State
2. Damien Wilson, Minnesota
3. Curtis Grant, Ohio State
This is not a top-heavy position in this year's draft, which means any of these guys could come off the board at any time. Jones leads the trio, as he possesses the size, power and athleticism to carve out a long NFL career.
1. Trae Waynes, Michigan State
2. Doran Grant, Ohio State
3. Jeremiah Johnson, Maryland
Waynes is a star and considered by most to be the top defensive back in this year's draft. He will likely be a top 15 pick, while Grant is expected to be a mid-round pick, and Johnson a late-round pick.
1. Adrian Amos, Penn State
2. Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
3. Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern
All three of these Big Ten safety prospects are expected to hear their names called in the mid-rounds. Amos gets a slight edge over Drummond and Campbell, but really, any of these guys could come off the board before the other.