Recapping a backloaded Round 1 for the B1G and looking ahead to Friday night
It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.
I got the cliché out of the way nice and early. In my defense, that was the story of the night for the B1G, which didn’t have a player selected in the top 10, but still wound up with seven first-round picks in the 2017 NFL draft.
There were storylines galore from the B1G, including a pair of controversial first-round picks. So let’s get to those and look ahead at what figures to be a busy Friday, as well.
OSU is DBU
Ok, you’ve heard about it a lot already, but Ohio State’s run of first-round defensive backs is nothing short of incredible. The Buckeyes had three defensive backs come off the boar in the first round, which tied the Miami (FL) mark set back in 2002. Those players were also disciples of Greg Schiano.
But perhaps even more impressive was this stat:
With Conley’s selection, Ohio State became the first school to ever have four first-round defensive backs in a two-year stretch. #DBU
— Saturday Tradition (@Tradition) April 28, 2017
Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker were virtually unheard of at this time last year. Both of them went in the top half of the first round, albeit a bit later than some might’ve expected. Add in Conley — I’ll get to his situation in a bit — and you’re looking at some insane production.
Consider this. Michigan, which had plenty of talent the last decade, had two first-round picks in the previous 10 years COMBINED. Ohio State eclipsed that number with one position group in one draft.
As long as Schiano and Kerry Coombs are in Columbus, the first-round DB factory isn’t going anywhere.
Raiders believe in Gareon Conley’s innocence
Talk about a roller coaster few days for Conley. The rape allegations against him were made public on Tuesday, which was supposed to be a death sentence for his first-round draft stock. In a matter of 48 hours, he went from looking like a possible Day-3 prospect to convincing at least one team that he’s innocent and still worthy of a first-round pick.
Passing a lie detector test obviously helped Conley, as did all the vetting of police reports and witness accounts from the Raiders. They wouldn’t have used a first-round pick on Conley unless they thought not only that he was innocent, but also that he would be proven innocent in a matter of days.
Even if teams believed Conley was falsely accused, the public relations headache made it unlikely that he would come off the board in the first round. We know that the Raiders weren’t worried about that, and according to NFL insiders, the Cowboys were also ready to roll the dice on Conley at No. 28.
Conley isn’t out of the woods yet, but for now, the accusations didn’t appear to have a dramatic impact on his bank account.
Will they let Jabrill Peppers into Ohio?
You can’t make this stuff up. Guy has polarizing career at Michigan and gets drafted to return to the state that probably hates him the most? Perfect.
Peppers seems pretty fired up about that:
— JP5 (@JabrillPeppers) April 28, 2017
Many thought that Peppers would fall out of the first round after the dilute sample at the combine. Instead, Peppers went No. 25 overall to what could be a nice situation for him. In a way, Peppers will almost get second-round treatment. Myles Garrett was the first overall pick by the Browns, and all eyes will be on him.
Peppers could do a few different things for a team that needs help in a bunch of areas. He can get his feet wet in his most natural position, which is as a return specialist, without needing to become a three-down defensive player from the jump.
The fact that the Browns traded the No. 12 pick instead of drafting Hooker might not sit well in Ohio, but Peppers will have a chance to prove his critics wrong again.
That was the most Wisconsin first round ever
What if I told you that a team would have two first-round picks, and both of them were barely recruited out of high school? You would assume they went to Wisconsin, right?
Perhaps even more fittingly, they were both under-the-radar picks late in the first round. Even better, they were both drafted into pretty ideal situations. T.J. Watt has “next great Steeler linebacker” written all over him, and Ryan Ramczyk will get a chance to block for a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback and running back in New Orleans.
It was actually the first time since 2011 that Wisconsin had two first-round picks, but it didn’t feel like it. It never seems to matter that Wisconsin doesn’t have blue-chip recruits. The Badgers just keep winning games and cranking out first-round picks.
Hey @steelers fans,
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) April 28, 2017
B1G’s late run made it best first round in recent memory
For a while, it was looking like the B1G was going to have a quiet first round. That would’ve matched up with Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, both of whom only had three B1G first-round picks in their final mocks. Instead, the B1G had its highest total of first-round picks since 2006.
After a slow start, the B1G closed with seven first-round picks.
That’s the most for the conference in 11 years. pic.twitter.com/OlTO6Yobpx
— Saturday Tradition (@Tradition) April 28, 2017
Only the SEC had more players selected on Thursday night. Three B1G teams had more players selected in the first round than the entire Big 12. That still happened despite the fact that two B1G players had negative national news about them the week of the draft.
So yes, it was an impressive finish. One could still argue that last year was a more impressive first-round showing for the B1G. Last year, the conference had two players in the top four, four players in the top 10 and six players selected in the top 20. Compare that to the zero top in the four, zero in the top 10 and two in the top 20 in 2017.
Either way, it still ended up being a solid night for the conference.
How long will Malik McDowell wait?
Remember when McDowell said that he wouldn’t enter the draft unless he was a top-three pick? He said that top 10 wasn’t even good enough for him to leave.
Well, McDowell left and he wasn’t in the top three, the top 10 or the top 32. McDowell’s motor and off-the-field behavior was questioned throughout the pre-draft process, and perhaps it wasn’t a smokescreen at all. MSU’s first-round streak ended, but McDowell should still come off the board early on Friday night.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if McDowell was the second pick of the second round by Seattle. The Seahawks were reportedly high on McDowell in the pre-draft process and could’ve traded back to lessen the risk of taking him. If not Seattle, Jacksonville could scoop him up at No. 35.
McDowell, with his ability to play defensive tackle and end, shouldn’t fall much further. Wherever he goes, he’ll have a chance to prove that he was the player many believed was a top-five talent coming into 2016.
Here’s hoping he bought another suit with him to Philadelphia.
— Freep Sports (@freepsports) April 27, 2017
Friday could have similar weak start, strong end for B1G
With the expectation of McDowell, all of the borderline first-round B1G prospects came off the board on Friday night. That could mean we see a similar pattern for the B1G on Friday night as we did on Thursday night.
To be clear, there are plenty of B1G names that should come off the board on Friday night, but it might not be until the latter half of the second round. It wouldn’t surprise me if any of the following former B1G players were picked in Round 2 or Round 3:
- Malik McDowell
- Curtis Samuel
- Chris Wormley
- Desmond King
- Jourdan Lewis
- Raekwon McMillan
- Pat Elflein
- Dan Feeney
- Chris Godwin
- Vince Biegel
- Jake Butt
- George Kittle
- Anthony Walker
- Jaleel Johnson
Last year, the B1G had 23 players picked in the first three rounds. That was en route to a B1G record (for seven-round drafts) of 47 players drafted. I predicted that mark would be bested this year.
If all of the aforementioned players come off the board tonight, those odds will look pretty good heading into Saturday.