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Big Ten to the NFL: Who is going to the combine?

Who from the Big Ten is going to the NFL, and which team is putting out the most talent?

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Now that football season is behind us, let's take a look at who the Big Ten is potentially sending to the NFL.  The NFL released the official combine invitee list last Thursday after players had decided if they were staying or going, and probably figuring out which ridiculously huge OL they were inviting to the underwear olympics.  So who from the Big Ten is going, and which team is putting out the most talent? I used a compilation of mock drafts to determine the average of where many mock drafters think players are going.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Invitees: 14
1st Round Grades: 5 (Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Taylor Decker, Darron Lee, Adolphus Washington)
2nd Round Grades: 3 (Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller, Eli Apple)
3rd Round Grades: 2 (Jalin Marshall, Cardale Jones)
4th Round Grades: 2 (Vonn Bell, Nick Vannett)
5th - UDFA: 2 (Joshua Perry, Tyvis Powell)

Ohio State hands down is putting out the most talent to the NFL this year, and they're doing it in dominating fashion that you generally do not see outside of Alabama.  Besides the fact that they have 14 players invited, a whopping 11 of those 14 players are projected to go within the first four rounds of the draft.  Obviously there is a long time in between now and the draft for these grades to change, but unless someone absolutely lays an egg in the interviews or the pro days this is pretty accurate.  Cardale Jones could fall given his lackluster performance after taking the Buckeyes to the National Title the year prior but the remainder of the Top 4 round talent should hang in there.

Michigan State Spartans

Invitees: 7
1st Round Grades: 1 (Jack Conklin)
2nd Round Grades: 1 (Shalique Calhoun)
3rd Round Grades: 2 (Connor Cook, Jack Allen)
5th - UDFA: 3 (Aaron Burbridge, Joel Heath, Lawrence Thomas)

The shocker here is that Connor Cook is falling down draft boards after being a consensus Top 5 pick going into this past season.  Cook can make the throws, but from the limited draft coverage I've been watching many analysts are concerned with the shoulder injury and how Cook tries to arm everything if he is moved from the pocket rather than attempting to reset his feet.  Jack Allen is expected to be one of the first few centers off the board, which generally start going in Round 3.  Aaron Burbridge could see his stock rise if he can put out solid combine numbers along with a good pro day, but being 6-1 he'll need to improve upon his last timed 4.57 40 yard dash.  That's sort of how the combine works for WRs, show you're a burner, have decent hands and you'll get a high draft grade.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Invitees: 5
2nd Round Grades: 2 (Christian Hackenberg, Austin Johnson)
3rd Round Grades: 1 (Carl Nassib)
5th - UDFA: 2 (Anthony Zettel, Jordan Lucas)

The shocker here is Nassib, who in my opinion should be swapped with Austin Johnson.  He was simply a better performer in college so I'm not sure what the differentiation is here.  Perhaps that will work itself out as the evaluation process continues but as of right now that doesn't make any sense.  I think most mock drafters consenus is that Hackenberg will go to the Texans and be reunited with his former head coach, which makes a lot of sense since he also got the most production out of him.

Indiana Hoosiers

Invitees: 4
2nd Round Grades: 1 (Jason Spriggs)
4th Round Grades: 1 (Jordan Howard)
5th - UDFA: 2 (Darius Latham, Nate Sudfeld)

Not a bunch going on here, which sort of follows Indiana's season overall.  Jason Spriggs was the bright spot on the OL while Jordan Howard becomes the 2nd drafted RB in a row for Indiana.  I doubt Sudfeld gets drafted but he could be picked up as camp fodder or practice squad material next year.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Invitees: 4
5th - UDFA: 4 (Drew Ott, Austin Blythe, Marshall Koehn, Jordan Lomax)

This pretty much follows our pre-season predictions for Iowa as a team that lacked high end talent and therefore wouldn't produce.  Well...that was certainly wrong.  I would guess that Drew Ott has the best potential to move up on the draft boards before the drat gets here, followed by Jordan Lomax as well.  Everyone needs DBs, and Ott was considered a 3rd-4th round talent last year before deciding to return.  Ott tore his ACL and had Tommy John's surgery as well, so injury concerns have dropped him down boards.

Maryland Terrapins

Invitees: 4
3rd Round Grades: 1 (Yannick Ngakoue)
5th - UDFA: 3 (Brad Craddock, Sean Davis, Quinton Jefferson)

Yannick Ngakoue is getting a lot of attention now that he has declared for the draft as a pass rusher in a 3-4, moving back to the OLB spot he was in for 2013 and 2014.  I've seen him as high as the mid second round and as low as the end of the third, so he has a lot of room to solidify his draft stock during his pro day and combine workouts.  Sean Davis is being looked at exclusively as a safety, which should help his draft stock and he could sneak into the 4th round if he works out well.  Being the nature of the position, Craddock is most likely going in the 7th round or undrafted even though he is one of the nation's best kickers.  Similarly for Jefferson, many view him as a late round draft pick or a preferred UDFA that they target immediately after the draft.  As bad a season that Maryland had, these players were the lone bright spots.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Invitees: 4
2nd Round Grades: 1 (Maliek Collins)
5th - UDFA: 3 (Andy Janovich, Alex Lewis, Vincent Valentine)

Collins and Valentine were lone bright spots for the woeful Nebraska defense and many Husker fans are sad to see them go.  Collins could fall into the third round, but that's more of a statement of the depth at the DE position in this year's draft.  Similar to Ngakoue above, many are looking at him potentially as a hybrid DE/LB, so versatility may help.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Invitees: 3
5th - UDFA: 3 (Geronimo Allison, Josh Ferguson, Jihad Ward)

All three players figure to be UDFA's in this years draft pending exploding at the combine or putting up monster pro days.  UDFA isn't all bad though: you at least get to be at least a little choosy with the team you go to, right?

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Invitees: 3
5th - UDFA: 3 (Brieann Boddy-Calhoun, De'Vondre Campbell, Eric Murray)

Not a lot of talent leaving for Minnesota, but two starters from the secondary are getting looks at the next level.  Murray and Boddy-Calhoun formed up a formidable pair in the Minnesota secondary and I would expect both to go in the late rounds or to be picked up soon after.  Both have good size to them for the next level where teams are increasingly looking for taller secondary players to match up with the increase in height at the WR position.

Wisconsin Badgers

Invitees: 3
5th - UDFA: 3 (Tyler Marz, Joe Schobert, Joel Stave)

So, Tyler Marz gets drafted, right? I mean, the whole Wisconsin OL thing and all.  This outlook is probably pretty similar to the Illinois players as many are projected to be UDFA after the draft.  Our Wisconsin "writer", Thomas Speth, thinks its an absolute joke that Stave was invited but Michael Caputo and Alex Erickson weren't.  I think they'd still be in that 5th - UDFA range, but Stave is just not an NFL talent so there is that as well.

Michigan Wolverines

Invitees: 2

3rd Round Grades: 1 (Graham Glasgow)
5th - UDFA: 1 (Willie Henry)

Graham Glasgow is up there with Jack Allen as one of the best centers coming out of college this year.  Both are expected to go early on in the 3rd round and right now it's a crap shoot of who goes first.  Henry played on one of the best defensive lines in the country and should get some late round consideration or otherwise will be a preferred UDFA.

Northwestern Wildcats

Invitees: 2
5th - UDFA: 2 (Dean Lowry, Dan Vitale)

The same goes here, both are expected to be UDFA after the draft, but hey I'd give a lot just to be at that athletic level to be considered for the draft.  There is always a bright side.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Invitees: 2
3rd Round Grades: 1 (Leonte Caroo)
5th - UDFA: 1 (Steve Longa)

Leonte Caroo dealt with an ugly suspension this year that turned out to be not necessary at all but it still hurt his draft stock nonetheless.  Caroo may end up being the steal of this draft if he's actually drafted in the 3rd round with his combination of size and hands.  Longa may actually be drafted in the 45th - 7th rounds as well as he was one of the better LBs in the conference.

Purdue Boilermakers

Invitees: 1
5th - UDFA: 1 (Anthony Brown)

Well, this is just fitting for Purdue, right?

UPDATE: I missed Darron Lee in the initial mock reviews, he's been added to the Buckeyes for Round 1