Michigan, OSU Could Propel Big Ten To Over 6.5 First-Round Picks

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is arguably the best in college football, and the NFL Draft adds a fun element to the matchup. While nothing replaces winning on the field, sending players to the NFL certainly doesn’t hurt recruiting efforts. 

Both Michigan and Ohio State are expected to have at least one player taken in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. The two rivals and national powerhouses could propel the Big Ten Conference to a healthy number of players taken in the first 32 picks. 

FanDuel sets the total number of Big Ten players to be selected in the first round at 6.5, with -138 odds on the over and +104 odds on the under. At least three of those projected picks come from Michigan and Ohio State, and sports bettors taking the over will need a good draft day from Buckeyes and Wolverines to win the prop bet.

Hutchinson the league’s best

Aidan Hutchinson, a standout defensive end from Michigan, is the Big Ten’s top NFL prospect. Hutchinson showcased his elite traits in the Michigan-Ohio State matchup, recording a season-high seven tackles and three sacks in the Wolverines’ 42-27 win. 

While once the favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall, Hutchinson is no longer expected to be the top selection, according to experts and the betting markets. That distinction is now held by Georgia defensive end Travon Walker, but that could mean Hutchinson stays in Michigan and joins the Detroit Lions, who pick second overall. 

Aidan Hutchinson on @nflnetwork:

“If we were to start winning in Detroit, it would be special for sure.” @Lions

— NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated (@NFLDraftBible) April 26, 2022

Whoever gets Hutchinson will add a defensive lineman with special physical tools and a relentless motor. His energy and attitude would certainly be appreciated by the kneecap-eaters in Detroit. 

On the Ohio State side, wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave are both potential top-10 picks. Each receiver is highly coveted by NFL teams after productive careers with the Buckeyes. Olave is a smooth route runner, while Wilson controls his body well and has been considered a top prospect since high school. 

Who could be the other four picks?

Will the Big Ten get to seven draft picks in Thursday’s first round?

Hutchinson, Olave, and Wilson all feel like first-round locks. Two other players from Michigan figure to have a chance to be selected in the first round, including edge rusher David Ojabo and safety Daxton Hill. Ojabo tore his achilles at Michigan’s Pro Day, however, which could send him down draft boards and into the second round. 

Purdue’s George Karlaftis is another respected defensive line prospect with first-round potential. Adding to the long, long list of defensive line prospects is Boye Mafe, a dynamic edge player from Minnesota. 

Jaquan Brisker, a safety, is a Penn State product who may go at the end of the first round. Fellow Penn State defender Arnold Ebiketie, an edge rusher, could also sneak into the tail end of the first round for a team in need of an athletic end. The Nittany Lions have another player, wide receiver Jahan Dotson, with potential to climb into the first round of the draft. Dotson is a big play waiting to happen, and he could boost the Super Bowl hopes of one of those contenders picking late in the day.

Iowa offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum is a highly regarded blocker with first-round potential as well.

If you’re taking the over, you’re essentially banking on four of the eight fringe first-round prospects to hear their names called in the opening round. Michigan and Ohio State will likely carry their weight on the prop bet, but will the other Big Ten standouts impress NFL executives enough to become top-32 picks?

Photo: Junfu Han/USA TODAY

Author: Bradley King