Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Big Uglies: Big Ten linemen in the NFL (posted 10.18.11)

The Big Uglies: Who's Producing NFL Linemen in the Big Ten? 
Is Wisconsin's reputation as an offensive linemen factory fact or fiction?

Penn State recruiting followers were despondent at the news this week that a highly regarded offensive line prospect had de-committed from Penn State and instead committed to Wisconsin.

In general, the apparent loss of 2012 recruit J.J. Denman was viewed with a mix of angst and resignation: "Well, they are Wisconsin, so who can blame a kid of wanting to go there? They crank out the NFL linemen."

(By the way, whatever happened to Big Ten schools respecting verbal commitments to other Big Ten schools?)

On one of the college football TV shows this week, an announcer declared that Wisconsin churns out first round picks on the offensive line "year after year.''

Really? RFBS' memory bank could only name two Wisconsin OLs in recent years who were first round picks (Joe Thomas, Gabe Carimi), and could not name another Badger OL product currently in the NFL.

Which got RFBS wondering: Who in the Big Ten actually is churning out the most Big Uglies for the League? In a conference renowned for producing offensive lineman, which is the premier school? Is it Wisconsin? Michigan? Nebraska? Ohio State?

Guess again. The clear-cut No. 1 is ... Iowa.

And the Hawkeyes don't just win in quantity, but quality: RT Bryan Bulaga started as a rookie for the Packers run to the Super Bowl last season; G Robert Gallery, G Eric Steinbach and C Casey Wiegmann started a combined 399 games entering the season; and G Marshal Yanda of the Ravens is rated the fifth-best guard in the NFL by ESPN's Scouts Inc.

Penn State's four NFL lineman consist of three solid starters - RT Kareem McKenzie (11th season, Giants), LT Levi Brown (5th season, Cardinals) and LG Stefen Wisniewski (rookie, Raiders) - along with Patriots third-year reserve G Rich Ohrnberger.

(ESPN.com is the source of the data below, which obviously is only as accurate as the most recent signings or cuts)

Big Ten linemen in the NFL
  • 8 - Iowa (Bryan Bulaga, Robert Gallery, Bryan Mattison, Seth Olsen, Eric Steinbach, Julian Vandervelde, Casey Wiegmann, Marshal Yanda)
  • 6 - Nebraska (Russ Hochstein, Richie Incognito, Lydon Murtha, Carl Nicks, Dominic Raiola, Matt Slauson)
  • 5 - Michigan (David Baas, Jeff Backus, Jonathan Goodwin, Steve Hutchinson, Jake Long)
  • 5 - Ohio State (Alex Boone, Jim Cordle, Nick Mangold, Jake McQuaide (LS), Rob Sims)
  • 5 - Wisconsin (Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Bill Nagy, Joe Thomas, Kraig Urbik)
  • 4 - Penn State (Levi Brown, Kareem McKenzie, Rick Ohrnberger, Stefen Wisniewski)
  • 4 - Illinois (Jon Asamoah, David Diehl, Brandon Moore, Tony Pashos)
  • 4 - Purdue (Nick Hardwick, Matt Light, Uche Nwaneri, Michael Otto)
  • 3 - Indiana (James Brewer, Kris Dielman, Rodger Saffold)
  • 2 - Northwestern (Trai Essex, Zach Strief)
  • 1 - Michigan State (Kyle Cook)
  • 0 - Minnesota
What about the future? According to Scouts Inc., at this juncture the lone Big Ten lineman projected as a first-round pick this spring is Iowa T Riley Reiff.

NOTES: Scouts Inc. rates Thomas (No. 1), Long (2) and McKenzie (6) among the Top 10 offensive tackles in the NFL. ... Nicks (3), Yanda (5), Dielman (7) and Moore (9) made the Scouts Inc. Top 10 at guard. ... Mangold is No. 1 and Hardwick No. 8 among centers. ... Minnesota's bagel is embarrassing, but Michigan State having just one is perhaps the biggest surprise. ... Rookies such as Carimi and Wisniewski (the starting left guard for the Raiders) are not yet included in the Scouts Inc. ratings.

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