Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 5, 2015

No one would argue that having NFL talent will surely help a college team be successful.

Ohio State is proof of that. The Buckeyes, winners of at least a share of six of the last 10 Big Ten titles, annually are in the mix for the Big Ten's most NFL draft picks.

What's really impressive, though, is when a team has continued success without boasting the most NFL talent.

Michigan State, under Mark Dantonio, is that program for the Big Ten.

Dantonio came from Cincinnati prior to the 2007 season, and he's produced 21 draft picks since the 2008 NFL Draft, the first under his watch.

By comparison, in that same span, Ohio State has had a Big Ten-leading 37 draft picks. Iowa (32), Wisconsin (31), Nebraska (28), Penn State (28) and Michigan (24) all have had more selections, too.

Despite having just one more pick than Illinois and Rutgers (20) since the 2008 draft, only Ohio State and Wisconsin can make the argument that they've had more success than the Spartans.

In eight seasons under Dantonio, Michigan State has been to a bowl every season (4-4) while amassing a 75-31 record, including 45-19 in Big Ten play. But the Spartans have been especially productive since 2010, posting an overall mark of 53-14 and a 32-8 Big Ten clip en route to winning a pair of Big Ten titles (2010 & 2013) and the 2014 Rose Bowl Game.

"You don't get where we're at with Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl wins without great players," Dantonio said on a teleconference earlier this week. "The two go hand in hand.

"I counted up the number of players that will go into camps in the last two years, and that number is 17. There are also about 18 guys who have played in the NFL actively since we've come back to Michigan State in 2007."

The Spartans? accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider they have had just two first-round picks under Dantonio-and each came in the last two drafts: cornerback Darqueze Dennard in 2014 and fellow corner Trae Waynes this year.

Take a bow, Michigan State and Dantonio: Your program is without peer when it comes to developing talent to its peak potential. That?s what they call ?coaching.?


Highest pick: CB Trae Waynes, 11th overall/Vikings, 2015

Most fertile draft: 2012, six selections

Total first-round selections: 2

Total picks: 21

Position breakdown:

  • Defensive back: 5
  • Receiver: 5
  • Running back: 4
  • Defensive line: 3
  • Tight end: 2
  • Quarterback: 1
  • Linebacker: 1



2 WR Devin Thomas, Redskins

5 TE Kellen Davis, Bears

7 DE Ervin Baldwin, Bears


5 RB Javon Ringer, Titans


7 DB Jeremy Ware, Raiders


6 LB Greg Jones, Giants

6 DB Chris Rucker, Colts


2 DE Jerel Worthy, Packers

4 QB Kirk Cousins, Redskins

4 WR Keshawn Martin, Texans

6 FS Trenton Robinson, 49ers

6 WR B.J. Cunningham, Dolphins

7 RB Edwin Baker, Chargers


2 RB Le?Veon Bell, Steelers

4 TE Dion Sims, Dolphins

4 DE William Gholston


1 CB Darqueze Dennard, Bengals


1 CB Trae Waynes, Vikings

4 RB Jeremy Langford, Bears

5 WR Tony Lippett, Dolphins

5 WR Keith Mumphery, Texans


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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