If the national championship and potential preseason No. 1 ranking weren’t enough of a sign, Ohio State football is back on draft day, too.
Hard to believe, but the Buckeyes produced only one first-round pick (defensive end Cameron Heyward, selected 31st in 2011) in the draft between 2010 and 2013.
The Buckeyes had two first-round picks last season, the first time they had multiple first rounders since 2009. This year’s draft might not add too much to Ohio State’s first-round tally, but the wave is coming in 2016.
The question is how the rest of the Big Ten will be able to keep up.
For fans who are college football-centric, NFL Draft day is a chance for bragging rights and a sort of referendum on the relative talent levels for teams and conferences. Whether that’s fair or not is up for debate.
Here’s how teams in the Big Ten fared in the last 10 drafts, followed by a few observations.
*Data derived from Pro Football Reference
Big Ten NFL Draft Picks
• Another sign that the Big Ten is dominated by Ohio State — the Buckeyes have 10 more draft picks and seven more first-rounders than anyone else in the league the last decade. That’s probably as much a function of Ohio State being Ohio State and traditional powers (Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska) riding a roller coaster in recent years.
• Let’s continue to heap praise on Mark Dantonio at Michigan State. The Spartans won the Big Ten two years ago and played in a major bowl game last season, yet the Spartans have had only one first-round draft pick (cornerback Darqueze Dennard in 2014) under Dantonio.
• No surprise here: Four of Wisconsin’s last five first-round draft picks were offensive linemen (center Travis Frederick, guard Kevin Zeitler and tackles Gabe Carimi and Joe Thomas). The other was defensive end J.J. Watt.
• More fodder for Kirk Ferentz detractors: Iowa trails only Ohio State and Wisconsin in draft picks in the last decade. Outright Big Ten titles in that draft time frame: Ohio State (four), Wisconsin (two), Iowa (none).
• The floor in this league is actually pretty good. Minnesota and Northwestern have produced only 11 draft picks each in the last decade, but the Gophers and Wildcats have played in 13 combined bowl games for those draft classes.
• Indiana is the only team in the Big Ten without a first-round pick in the last 10 drafts. The Hoosiers’ last first-rounder was wide receiver Thomas Lewis in 1994.