Offensive lineman Riley Reiff of Iowa was the first Big Ten player selected in the 2012 NFL draft. (Or NFL Draft, depending how religious you are about this great and grand event.) He was the 23rd player selected overall.
It was sort of jarring to see the league wait so long to take a Big Ten guy. But the league would be delighted to have someone go that early tonight in the first-round of the '13 draft (or Draft).
Most mock drafts have no one from the conference going in the first round. If that's how it plays out, it would be the first time the league was blanked in Round 1 since 1953, when the NFL had 13 teams. By the way, the first pick of the second round that year and 14th player overall was Bernie Flowers of Purdue.
t's highly possible that the only 2013 first-round pick Iowa faced in its 12 games last year was from Central Michigan. That's offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who is in everybody's top seven picks. Maybe CMU's 32-31 win at Iowa last Sept. 22 wasn't the upset we all thought it was. The Chippewas finished the season 7-6 after a win over Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Iowa has had first-rounders in each of the previous three drafts, which is saying something. It was offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga in 2010, defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn in '11, and Reiff. This year, defensive back Micah Hyde may be the only Hawkeye drafted. You can cut the blame for that 4-8 record of 2012 in a lot of slices, but not having a junior or senior in the Bulaga/Clayborn/Reiff category is one of the bigger ones.
The quick and easy answer is that these things are cyclical. But the cycle has been pointing down for the Big Ten for a while now. The league hasn't had a player taken in the first 10 picks of any NFL draft since 2008. None.
From 2009 to 2012, only four conferences have produced top-10 draftees: The SEC had 15, the Big 12 had 13, the ACC had 6, and the Pac-10/Pac-12 had 6. In 2010, the Big 12 had the first four players taken. In 2011, the SEC had five of the first six.
The breakdown of tonight's first-round from the mock draft of Sports Illustrated's Peter King:
SEC 11 players
Big 12 6
Notre Dame 2
Sun Belt 1
But Big Ten men's basketball was way better than the SEC's this year.
By the way, CBSsports.com says Michigan's Taylor Lewan is the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect for the 2014 draft. So there's that.