The Big Ten On Offense And The NFL Draft: An Overview

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on August 13th, 2014 at 8:20 AM



So, first and foremost, I took July off from diaries basically because it was a rather full month for me and I really didn’t have much time aside from normal board activity to devote to these. Also, we had a few storms move through at various points in the month, and anyone who has picked up on what I do for a living knows how much storms can ruin a week for me.  In any case, we’re sliding back into football mode now, so I am going to continue with my various looks at the Big Ten and its contributions to the NFL Draft over time.  In this particular one, we’ll look at the breakdown of contributions by position, and specifically on offense (defense will be Part II).


In all the years of the NFL Draft, the current members of the Big Ten have sent 1,878 players who took snaps on offense (or who were supposed to do so anyway). The totals by team are below:































Before I go on, I will say that a great deal of this information comes from, so in some cases, such as “tackle”, the numbers are perhaps slightly muddled by the old two-way players who may have been a tackle on offense as well as defense. You’ll see how it perhaps does inflate the figures when we get to the “tackle” position. The upcoming discussion on defense will focus a little more on the modern era and more modern positions, so for example, we’ll talk “Defensive end” and not everyone who was an “End”.

So, getting into specific positions:

Let’s start with the one that we heap praise on when things are good on offense, and the one that people tend to rip the most when things aren’t going well on offense.  Those of you who vehemently supported the insertion of Shane Morris into critical game moments last season will know this dilemma well. Anyway, the Big Ten – as it is currently composed – has sent 136 QBs into the NFL ranks over time, and the team-by-team distribution is thus:

 photo BigTenOverallQB_zps7f59e609.png

Of course, this is regardless of relative professional success, but Ohio State and Michigan come out on top in this particular race, followed by Michigan State and Penn State.  Teams not so known for their QBs include Minnesota and Rutgers.

Here’s another one that also gets discussed at great length, particularly now when we’re a team developing depth at the position and selling recruits for the position on our history of success, and that would be running back. As you might guess, we’re up there, but we’re not on top here. That honor belongs to Nebraska. I am sure that doesn’t shock many people either. The full distribution:

 photo BigTenOverallRB_zps38a97787.png

What’s interesting here is the steep drop after our number. The discussion of why only a few schools in the conference have a consistent record of success when it comes to sending RBs to the NFL would be an interesting schematic / historical discussion.

Wide receivers? We have those too, but like a few charts here, not quite as many as Ohio State.  Actually, this one contained a real interesting surprise for me – Michigan State with the third-highest total.

 photo BigTenOverallWR_zps4203ad8e.png

Some of the lagging schools here are probably not surprising anyone. Iowa is not huge on history at wide receiver, and it is becoming quite clear that Rutgers hasn’t been known for much of anything lately. By “lately”, I mean since the draft was instituted.

We snicker sometimes about the seemingly exaggerated number of tight ends on Penn State’s roster, except that it has worked out for them over the years in that they’ve sent more of them to the NFL than anyone currently in the conference.

 photo BigTenOverallTE_zps739e2578.png

We’re second here, and Rutgers is not last. No, the last TE from Indiana to go in the draft isn’t immediately coming to me either.

Let’s look at the offensive line all at once. Below are the numbers for guards, tackles and center. Again, there was not a good way to separate the tackle numbers, so I left them intact here.

 photo BigTenOverallC_zps79f1ecdf.png  photo BigTenOverallOG_zpse901732c.png  photo BigTenOverallT_zps980b440e.png

So, if we were going to label a school in the conference as the most reliable producer of offensive linemen regardless of placement, it is clearly Ohio State.  That being said, we’re second for the number of centers produced and third for guards, so while you might have a fair number of OSU linemen on the roster in the NFL, count on the odd Michigan man in the interior protecting the QB, perhaps even anchoring the line, eh? It’s a nice enough thought anyway, and many of us here can name many of the offensive linemen we’ve sent to the pros.


Again, this is more about showing everyone the numbers for discussion. As we’ve seen in other diaries that Ohio State’s stream of players to the pro ranks has typically been wider, nothing here should astound people. However, we’ve definitely made our own impact and sent many players on to successful NFL careers. 

Oh, and now that the season is nearly upon us, remember that Big Brother is watching this blog. Here is the evidence taken last night:

 photo WIN_20140812_210146_zps9f9df5e1.jpg



August 13th, 2014 at 11:22 AM ^

I can think of a fair number of quarterbacks who played other positions in the NFL or other sports. Rex Kern at Ohio State (played DB for the Colts), Rick Leach (baseball), Antwaan Randle El (although has him down as a WR) and of course Denard.


August 13th, 2014 at 11:30 AM ^

Yeah, I thought about that, and it is definitely the biggest limitation of the exercise, in my opinion (hence numerous subtle disclaimers in the diary). Still, it's interesting to me even if a fair number of players drafted nominally to play a certain position in fact never played there, or in some other cases that I can think of, they were drafted and saw very few if any actual pro snaps. The problem becomes trying to tie this to some sort of "success rate" or other metric - that's an interesting problem indeed. I wonder if we could develop it here. 


August 13th, 2014 at 11:49 AM ^

My naive first guess is that QB is the position where position switching is most common (at least after the two-platoon system was allowed by the rules). This is in large part because of the Big Ten's history as a running conference.

I found another example, by the way; Denny Franklin played WR for the Lions for about a season. I don't think this would be considered successful, but it also depends on how you define that (whether by number of starts, number of years in the league, number of years in the league with at least x many starts, etc.).

So yeah. Probably not a big factor, but I thought it was interesting.



August 15th, 2014 at 6:58 PM ^

or so to get a better feel of how well they're sending players to the NFL for the draft.  I know that Michigan has to be at the bottom in terms of the numbers of players drafted.


August 15th, 2014 at 9:09 PM ^

Actually, you'd be wrong (when it comes to offensive players anyway).  Total offensive players drafted since the 2010 draft (last 5 drafts)


Wisconsin- 15!!

Iowa- 9

Michigan- 8

OSU- 8

Penn St- 7

Nebraska- 7

Illinois- 7

MSU- 6

Indiana- 5

Purdue- 3

Northwestern- 3

Minnesota- 1


The defensive side is where Michigan has really fallen off recently.  Michigan has the 3rd most offensive players drafted over the last 5 years.  Now look at how the total numbers shake out.

OSU- 23

Iowa- 22

Wisconsin- 20

Nebraska- 19

Penn St- 18

Illinois- 16

Michigan- 13

MSU- 13

Purdue- 7

Indiana- 7

Northwestern- 5

Minnesota- 4