Wisconsin offensive lineman Travis Frederick shouldn't be surprised if he receives a Christmas card this year from the Delany family.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany breathed a sigh of relief late Thursday night as the Dallas Cowboys selected Frederick in the penultimate pick of the first round of the NFL draft. Frederick, who played guard and then center for the Badgers, opted to skip his senior season and enter the draft. He was the first center and the ninth offensive lineman selected in a beef-heavy first round.
Dallas' selection of Frederick at No. 31 prevented the Big Ten from another dubious distinction in its tumble down the college football pecking order. Many draft experts predicted the Big Ten wouldn't produce a first-round draft pick for the first time since 1953, 17 years before the AFL-NFL merger. Dallas traded its No. 18 pick to San Francisco for the No. 31 pick and a third-round choice.
The SEC continued to dominate the draft with 12 first-round selections, while the ACC (6) and Pac-12 (5) also had good showings. There's no nice way to put this, but the Big Ten's talent gap at the top is pretty obvious right now. At least Frederick prevented the first-round shutout, but his selection is the latest that the Big Ten has had its first player drafted in the modern draft era.
Several other Big Ten players were seen as first-round possibilities, including Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short and Frederick's teammate, Badgers running back Montee Ball. They'll have to wait a little longer to hear their names called.