Hot Reads: Four-Year NFL Draft Rankings in the Big Ten
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Hot Reads: Four-Year NFL Draft Rankings in the Big Ten

April 29, 2019

Nebraska's draft streak is over. You probably read something about that. Watching the late rounds unfold on Saturday, knowing a Husker had been drafted every year since 1963, was a little like watching a time-bomb scene in a movie.

Was anybody going to cut the wire and save the streak?

Nobody did, of course, and that led to a weekend of big-picture, what-happened-to-Nebraska reckoning for a lot of people. Didn't help that sort of angst that two native Nebraskans, neither Huskers, were drafted as well. It was the perfect set of circumstances for a mini-existential crisis and, thus, some attendant crisis management.

I think we're all OK, now. It did make me wonder what the four-year Big Ten "standings" look like, however. Not because one-year results are totally random––Stanley Morgan Jr. and Devine Ozigbo certainly seemed good enough to be drafted, just weren't, but I'm not expert on draftability––but it is more random than a four-year look.

So let's do that quickly just to see what we can see. Here are the four-year total of NFL Draft picks from the Big Ten.

Ohio State 23 T-4
Michigan 21 6
Penn State 18 T-12
Wisconsin 14 T-18
Iowa 12 T-23
Michigan State 10 T-29
Maryland 9 T-35
Indiana 7 T-45
Northwestern 6 T-53
Nebraska 6 T-53
Illinois 5 T-64
Rutgers 5 T-64
Minnesota 4 T-69
Purdue 3 T-79

The top two looks exactly like you probably thought it would (though it was a closer race than I would've thought). Wisconsin at four certainly matches up with results we've seen over those four years. Might even be a little behind.

Iowa was right on the Badgers' heels. Maryland lives up to its reputation as a talent-dense area. Indiana is the one I never would've pegged to finish where it did.

And then you finally get to Nebraska, which has had two players drafted in the past three years but had four picked in 2016. None of this is a surprise at this point. When you look at the Huskers' 23-27 record over that span, it's hard to tell if Nebraska's draft production outstrips its on-field production or is right where it should be for a sub-.500 four-year stretch. (Indiana, with one more pick than Nebraska, was one game worse than the Huskers.)

I don't know the equation for draft picks-to-wins, if any such equation could even be partially accurate. But it does raise an interesting question for the future: Is it better to be a team with better draft results than on-field results, draft and on-field results in equilibrium or draft results that are worse than what's happening in, you know, the actual games?

Personally, I'd take either of the latter two options.

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