The Big Ten endured arguably the worst NFL draft in its history last month, and its struggles to produce high first-round talent are well documented.
The league hasn’t had a top-10 pick since Michigan’s Jake Long and Ohio State’s Vernon Gholston went No. 1 and No. 6, respectively, in the 2008 draft. The Big Ten narrowly avoided being shut out of the first round for the first time since the NFL-AFL merger when Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick went at No. 31 in April’s draft.
Is the troubling trend for the Big Ten more of a coaching/development issue or a recruiting issue? The declining number of first-round picks might have more to do with the Big Ten footprint than the Big Ten Conference.
As CoachingSearch.com’s Chris Vannini points out, certain states in the Big Ten footprint, namely Ohio, have seen a drop in producing first-round picks in recent years. Vannini looked at where first-round picks from the past eight drafts played their high school ball.
Not surprisingly, Texas (17) and Florida (12) produced the most first-round picks between 2010-13, followed by Georgia (10) and California (8). Florida, Texas and California also were among the top producers in the previous four drafts (2006-09).
Pennsylvania is the top producer in the Big Ten footprint with five first-round picks since 2010. Michigan (4) and Wisconsin (4) are next, along with future Big Ten state New Jersey (4).
Where’s Ohio? Way down the list with just two first-round picks since 2010. It comes as a surprise as Ohio is celebrated for its high school football and serves as the starting point in recruiting for many Big Ten programs.
Ohio produced nine first-round draft picks between 2006-09. New Jersey also saw its total drop from 10 (between 2006-09) to four (between 2010-13).
Continue reading this article: B1G country producing fewer top NFL picks