NFL Draft: Top picks from the Big Ten in the past five years
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten when it comes to the NFL Draft spotlight over the past five years. We looks at the top picks from the Big Ten over the years, with a flashback to the big-name players when they were only high school prospects.
No. 3 overall: Joey Bosa, Ohio State (San Diego, 2016)
The skinny: Bosa trimmed his list of schools down to Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State and Alabama before committing to the Buckeyes. He dominated at the college level and was selected with the third overall pick by San Diego in 2016. After a slow start to his professional career due to a holdout, Bosa has once again dominated, notching 23 sacks in his first two seasons.
Farrell’s Take: Bosa, the son of former Boston College defensive end great John Bosa, was a monster in high school. He was physically imposing and had the ceiling to warrant five-star status, so we missed there. Bosa's play at Ohio State was great in the beginning, but up and down as a junior. Perhaps he was already looking ahead to the NFL, but he was still dominant at times. His contract holdout was expected to put him behind the eight ball a bit as a rookie, but he hit the ground running and is already one of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL.
No. 4 overall: Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State (Dallas, 2016)
The skinny: Elliott committed to Ohio State in late March after a visit to Columbus. However, he did take an official visit to Missouri a week before National Signing Day, but still signed with the Buckeyes despite his father having played at Mizzou. After a memorable career at Ohio State, Elliott had a great rookie season with the Cowboys when he rushed for a league-leading 1,631 yards. His second season was disastrous though with a months of controversy surrounding his six-game suspension stemming from a domestic violence case. While he still rushed for 983 yards, everyone will be interested to see how he rebounds in 2018.
Farrell’s Take: I liked this pick, while many others felt it was a reach back in 2016. Elliott was head and shoulders above everyone else on paper at running back in the draft, and with the Cowboys' offensive line you could see early stardom. There was no way to see his leap in talent from high school to college, even as a top 100 prospect – he just got so much better and faster upon his arrival in Columbus. We liked him out of high school, but there is no way I expected to be talking about him like this a few years later.
No. 5 overall: Brandon Scherff, Iowa (Washington, 2015)
The skinny: Scherff, who actually played some quarterback in high school, committed to Iowa over Nebraska, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State during the summer of 2009. With the departure of Riley Reiff, Scherff took over at left tackle during his final two seasons. And despite dealing with an injury in 2013, he still proved himself as one of the top offensive linemen in the country during this time. Selected with the fifth overall pick in 2015, Scherff has impressed, and he played in the Pro Bowl after both the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Farrell’s Take: Iowa produces offensive linemen, or at least it used to, on a more frequent basis. Scherff was a nasty mauler, but didn't really get to show that until much later in his high school career, as he was a quarterback before that. There was no way to see anything beyond a three-star here, based on his late development, but betting against linemen at places like Iowa is never a good idea.
No. 8 overall: Jack Conklin, Michigan State (Tennessee, 2016)
The skinny: Conklin’s recruiting process never took off, which led him to walk on at Michigan State. He then earned a scholarship after his first season with the Spartans, eventually starting 38 of 39 games and being named First-Team All-American after the 2015 season. Selected with the eighth overall pick by Tennessee, Conklin has started all 33 games at right tackle with the Titans and earned All-Pro honors as a rookie. He did suffer a torn ACL in the playoff game against New England in January. And while his rehab is on schedule, he should miss the start of the 2018 season.
Farrell’s Take: There was a question about his athleticism coming out of high school. The son of a coach, he was always smart and a leader, and was another great find by Michigan State's staff. They did a great job developing him, and he’s made an easy transition into the NFL as a tackle.
No. 10 overall: Eli Apple, Ohio State (NY Giants, 2016)
The skinny: Apple had long considered Ohio State his dream school, so when the Buckeyes finally offered it didn’t take much time for him to commit. After being redshirted as a freshman, Apple had two productive seasons with the Buckeyes before being selected with the 10th overall by the New York Giants. Apple has had an eventful first two seasons in the NFL. While he showed his potential as a rookie, his second season included a suspension and several minor off-the-field incidents. He will be looking to get back on the right path with new head coach Pat Shurmur.
Farrell’s Take: Apple was a Rivals100 prospect and top 10 corner who had good size but wasn’t tested that much in high school, and he did more work on the offensive side of things. He was up against some top corners in the 2013 class and was overshadowed a bit by guys such as Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves, Kendall Fuller, Mackensie Alexander and Tre’Davious White. He was a strong tackler near the line of scrimmage, and was solid but not spectacular in solo coverage. But he improved greatly in college especially with his foot speed.