Big Ten NFL draft outlook for 2011, 2012

ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper has posted his latest mock draftInsider, and if you're a fan of J.J. Watt or Corey Liuget, you're gonna like what you see.

Both Big Ten early entry defensive linemen are soaring up the boards, and Kiper really likes how they project for April's draft.

Watt, the Wisconsin defensive end, comes in at No. 6 overall, going to the Cleveland Browns. Kiper writes: "This pick will surprise, but you have to consider the fit, not just the player. The Browns need to upgrade along the defensive line, and outside of the top two guys in this mock draft, you won't find a more consistently disruptive and versatile player along the defensive line than Watt, who can come in and provide immediate help as either a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive end (as the Browns adjust)."

Liuget comes in at No. 14, going to the St. Louis Rams. Kiper writes of the Illinois defensive tackle: "A relentless player who plays powerfully and locates the ball extremely well against both the rush and the pass, Liuget fills a need spot for the Rams."

Nebraska fans will be happy to see see Huskers cornerback Prince Amukamara appear at No. 9, although they might be less than thrilled to see him heading to the Dallas Cowboys. Kiper writes: "Cowboys fans might believe the team would be better suited addressing offensive tackle or even safety. But because the mock draft can't account for draft board trades, if the draft played out this way with the picks ahead of them, the Cowboys could do a lot worse than to grab the best pure technician at the corner position. Amukamara should transition quickly, and Terence Newman isn't getting any younger."

Other Big Ten players on Kiper's Big Board include:

  • Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn (No. 20, Tampa Bay)

  • Wisconsin LT Gabe Carimi (No. 23, Philadelphia)

  • Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan (No. 27, Atlanta)

  • Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward (No. 32, Pittsburgh)

I'm a little surprised to see Kerrigan projected so low on the board. If he's still available at No. 27, he'll be a huge steal for the Falcons.

Kiper also lists his position-by-position top 5 players for both the 2011 draft and the 2012 draft.

Here's who appears from the Big Ten:

2011 Draft

  • Illinois' Mikel Leshoure is the No. 3 running back

  • Indiana's Tandon Doss is the No. 4 wide receiver

  • Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks is the No. 2 tight end

  • Carimi is the No. 4 offensive tackle

  • Wisconsin's John Moffitt is the No. 3 guard

  • Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski is the No. 2 center

  • Watt and Clayborn are the No. 3 and No. 5 defensive ends, respectively

  • Liuget is the No. 4 defensive tackle, while Iowa's Christian Ballard is No. 5

  • Illinois' Martez Wilson is the No. 1 inside linebacker, while Michigan State's Greg Jones comes in at No. 4

  • Ohio State's Ross Homan is the No. 5 outside linebacker

  • Amukamara is the No. 2 cornerback

  • Nebraska's Alex Henery is the No. 1 kicker

  • Iowa's Ryan Donahue is the No. 1 punter

2012 Draft

  • Michigan State's Kirk Cousins is the No. 3 quarterback, while Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor comes in at No. 5

  • Ohio State's Dan Herron is the No. 2 running back

  • Penn State's Joe Suhey is the No. 3 fullback

  • Ohio State's Mike Adams is the No. 5 offensive tackle

  • Ohio State's Mike Brewster is the No. 1 center, while Michigan's David Molk comes in at No. 3

  • Northwestern's Vince Browne is the No. 2 defensive end

  • Nebraska's Jared Crick is the No. 1 defensive tackle, while Michigan's Mike Martin comes in at No. 3 and Iowa's Mike Daniels at No. 4

  • Nebraska's Lavonte David is the No. 3 inside linebacker

  • Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard is the No. 2 cornerback, while Iowa's Shaun Prater comes in at No. 3

  • Illinois' Derek Dimke is the No. 2 kicker, while Wisconsin's Philip Welch comes in at No. 3

Some interesting selections for the 2012 draft. Pryor's inclusion will surprise many folks. Both Herron and Browne also project higher than I thought they would.