NFL draft 2017: 4 potential Big Ten sleepers and 4 potential Big Ten reaches
Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt, left, celebrates with fans after an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 17-9. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
There are always moves that make fans scratch their heads and others that make NFL general managers and personnel people look like geniuses every draft. This weekend’s event in Philadelphia should be no different. Here’s a look at four Big Ten prospects who could potentially go too low and four more who could go too high.
Maryland defensive back William Likely, left, tries to avoid Penn State safety Jordan Lucas during a kick return in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
There are plenty of boxes to check against Likely, with size (5-foot-7) and injury history (torn ACL in October) among them. But the cornerback became the Terrapins’ top cover corner and emerged as an All-American returner during a stellar junior seasons. He won’t go early, but he could wind up being a player who makes a difference for a team if he gets the chance.
Michigan State’s Malik McDowell, right, tackles Furman’s Richard Hayes III for a 6-yard loss during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
McDowell has been one of the most talented defensive linemen in the Big Ten over the past couple season, but there have been questions about his effort and how exactly he projects to the next level. He could have the talent to be a top-10 pick — and beauty is always in the eye of the beholder — but his sometimes erratic play makes a high pick of him risky.
Michigan cornerback Jeremy Clark (34) is helped by trainers off the field after a kickoff return in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Penn State at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Clark reportedly suffered a torn ACL. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
There were a couple more high-profile players in the Wolverines secondary over the past couple seasons (we’ll get to that) while Clark was beset by injuries. A torn ACL prevented him from running at the NFL combine in February, but he ranked third among cornerbacks in the bench press. He’s a likely Day 3 pick, but he’s become more confident in his future as the process as worn on.
Wisconsin offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk, displayed on a mobile device, speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Ramczyk was a one-year wonder when he shined along the Badgers offensive line last fall after beginning his college career at Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has the size at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the top run-blocking tackle in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season. But there’s that lack of high level experience, and he had hip surgery after the season.