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Big Ten Recruiting As NFL Draft

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We look at Big Ten recruiting rankings in an NFL Draft format

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Many things comprise a truly great football team. Some of the most critical - leadership, determination, teamwork - are ephemeral. Other aspects, like scheme, quickly become homogenized in our current information age, where every angle of every play, of every game, is instantaneously available on four different mediums around the world. And if your team’s coaching staff is literate and can use a web browser, then it is your team’s collection of talent that becomes a clear differentiating - that is to say, winning - factor.

Myriad studies and posts have championed the importance of talent, and this stupid post won’t waste any time trying to convince you of the premise. If you’re still in doubt about this theorem, then use your google machine.

No friends, we’ve chosen to waste our time on a different, almost useless, question: what would Big Ten recruiting look like if it mirrored the 2018 NFL Draft format? Thanks to the outstanding folks at 24/7 Sports, we can bring you the answer. And friends, it’s a hilarious declaration between the haves, and the have-nots.

The folks at 24/7 Sports, unrivaled in their recruiting ranking expertise, recently published a summary of collegiate team talent composition, and they also shared their underlying data for free. Sincere thanks to 24/7 Sports for that gesture.

Using their data, and focusing only on Jim Delany’s Big Ten Conference, we ordered individual recruits, from all 14 teams, across all recruiting years for currently rostered recruits, and overlayed them against 2018’s NFL Draft.

Last April at JerryWorld, the National Football League held its 83rd annual player selection ritual, broken into seven distinct rounds. You can read more about it here. In total, there were 256 players selected by 32 teams in seven ‘rounds’. For our exercise, we kept the round designations precise - 32 first rounders, 32 second rounders, 36 third rounders, and so on, through 256 total selections. Because several players are signed as undrafted free agents immediately following the draft, and because we like round numbers, we also included 44 in a “UDFA” category, representing selection numbers 257 thru 300.

Make sense? If not, read the comments. We’re done explaining. Time for the big reveal of our Big Ten Recruiting as 2018 NFL Draft summary table.

TEAM 1STRND- -2NDRND- -3RDRND- -4THRND- -5THRND- -6THRND- -7THRND- -UDFA
PSU 6 5 3 7 10 8 4 3
OSU 16 16 14 7 6 6 1 1
MICH 6 5 9 9 4 7 6 4
UMD 2 3 4 3 3 3 3 3
NEB 0 1 3 3 2 8 4 3
MSU 0 1 0 3 5 5 4 10
WISC 0 0 0 3 1 2 6 7
IOWA 1 1 0 0 0 0 6 3
JNW 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 2
MINN 0 0 1 0 1 2 1 3
IND 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
ILL 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1
RUT 0 0 1 0 2 1 2 0
PUR 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
TOTAL 32 32 36 37 37 44 38 44

And a more concise summary of the same results above.

TEAM TOP100- -101-300- -TOTAL PICKS
PSU 14 32 46
OSU 46 21 67
MICH 20 30 50
UMD 9 15 24
NEB 4 20 24
MSU 1 27 28
WISC 0 19 19
IOWA 2 9 11
JNW 2 5 7
MINN 1 7 8
IND 0 3 3
ILL 0 5 5
RUT 1 5 6
PUR 0 2 2

Some teams get all the luck. Ohio State had 16 of the 32 first round picks. Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue got none. In fact, Purdue didn’t get to make any selections in this draft until the 5th round - and none after that. One draft pick out of 256, plus one more UDFA, for 2nd year head coach Jeff Brohm.

Dear Old State finishes 3rd in the talent acquisition race, closely behind Michigan, but well ahead of...depending upon how you value picks...either Maryland, Nebraska, or Michigan State. (How wonderful that 5 of the top 6 are in one division, eh?) But PSU’s arrow is definitely pointing up. Only 2 of its 46 selections are seniors - DeAndre Thompkins, 5th round, #157; and Koa Farmer, UDFA, #282. Thirty-four of PSU’s 46 picks are first- or second-year players.