The 2013 NFL draft is more than four months away, but all the Big Ten hopefuls have finished their college careers after the bowl games.
While we wait on several underclassmen to finalize their draft decisions -- Michigan's Taylor Lewan, Michigan State's William Gholston, Wisconsin's Travis Frederick, Ohio State's Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde -- ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has come out with his latest Big Board for April's draft. These rankings came out Wednesday, after the Jan. 1 bowls. Only two Big Ten players make the list of 25: Michigan's Lewan at No. 13, and Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins at No. 16. Despite Jadeveon Clowney's ferocious hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl, Kiper likes the way Lewan fared against the South Carolina star. Kiper writes that Hankins is a space eater but there are questions about his pass-rushing ability and explosiveness.
Here's who made it from the Big Ten ...
Wisconsin's Montee Ball is the No. 2 running back
Ohio State's Zach Boren is the No. 2 fullback
Michigan's Denard Robinson is the No. 5 wide receiver
Wisconsin's Rick Wagner is the No. 2 offensive tackle
Ohio State's Reid Fragel is the No. 5 offensive tackle
Purdue's Kawann Short is the No. 3 defensive tackle
Nebraska's Brett Maher is the No. 4 kicker
Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell is the No. 4 running back
Nebraska's Mike Marrow is the No. 5 fullback
Michigan State's Dion Sims is the No. 3 tight end
Michigan's Taylor Lewan is the No. 2 offensive tackle
Ohio State's Marcus Hall is the No. 5 guard
Wisconsin's Travis Frederick is the No. 1 center
Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins is the No. 2 defensive tackle
Michigan State's Max Bullough is the No. 3 inside linebacker
Wisconsin's Chris Borland is the No. 4 inside linebacker
Illinois' Jonathan Brown is the No. 5 inside linebacker
Iowa's Mike Meyer is the No. 3 kicker
Purdue's Cody Webster is the No. 5 punter
It's interesting to see Bell as only the No. 4 junior running back. Although I think he made the right call by going pro, he might need a strong predraft performance to move up. Like Peter Konz, Wisconsin's Frederick projects very well to the NFL and could make the jump early. All three of the inside linebackers -- Bullough, Borland and Brown -- are expected to stay for their senior seasons.
What should concern Big Ten fans about these lists is the lack of wide receivers, quarterbacks and defensive backs. When Denard Robinson, who played quarterback for most of his Michigan career, is the only player at wide receiver on either list, there's a problem. When the only Big Ten quarterbacks likely to get drafted -- Robinson, Minnesota's MarQueis Gray -- likely will play other positions at the next level, there's a problem. The Big Ten produces enough NFL-caliber linemen, linebackers and running backs, but it lags behind other leagues at several key skill positions.