Despite graduating the winningest class in program history this year, Northwestern isn’t likely to have anyone drafted in this year’s NFL Draft. The NU player most likely to get drafted was offensive guard Brian Mulroe, but he decided to pursue other opportunities besides football. It’s a down year for NFL talent in the Big Ten in general, as most mock drafts don’t even project a Big Ten player to go in the first round of the NFL Draft.
With all that in mind, and since there isn’t much to discuss in terms of NU’s presence in the 2013 NFL Draft, we’ll take a look back at NU’s draft history and its place in the Big Ten (stats from NFL.com).
First Round Picks
NU has had seven players taken in the first round of the draft in its history, but only three since 1980 and two since the draft was reduced to its current seven rounds in 1994. A quick bio of each first round pick:
Otto Graham (1944, Pick 4, QB, Detroit Lions) — Graham was drafted by the Lions, but played his entire 10-year career with the Cleveland Browns. In addition to being a legend at NU, he is also an NFL Hall of Famer.
Vic Schwall (1947, Pick 10, HB, New York Giants) — Schwall was drafted by the Giants, but played his mostly pedestrian career with the Chicago Cardinals.
Fate Echols (1962, Pick 6, T, St. Louis Cardinals) — Echols was selected in sixth overall in the NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals and 21st overall (third round) in the AFL Draft by the New York Titans. He played with the Cardinals, but appeared in just eight games over two years.
Cas Banaszek (1967, Pick 11, T, San Francisco 49ers) — Banaszek had a fairly successful career in the NFL, playing 10 seasons with the 49ers.
Chris Hinton (1983, Pick 4, G, Denver Broncos) — Hinton ties Graham as the highest draft pick in NU history. He was drafted by the Broncos, but was traded to the Colts for John Elway. He played his first seven seasons with the Colts, before moving on to Atlanta for four seasons and Minnesota for two. He was an All-American at NU and went to seven Pro Bowls.
Napoleon Harris (2002, Pick 23, MLB, Oakland Raiders) — Harris was an All-Big Ten player at NU and even played one season of basketball. He started 16 of 19 games for the Raiders in his rookie season, and was eventually traded to the Vikings and the Chiefs. He’s now an Illinois State Senator.
Luis Castillo (2005, Pick 28, DE, San Diego Chargers) — Castillo starred in the NFL as a rookie after starring at NU. He was a second alternate to the Pro Bowl in 2006, but was injured in 2007 and never reached the heights many thought he would as a rookie. However, he was still a productive NFL player.
It’s quite an eclectic group for being so small — a hall of famer, “the guy who was traded for John Elway,” and a state senator among them.
NU picks by round since draft consolidation in 1994
First round: 2
Second round: 2
Third round: 3
Fourth round: 7
Fifth round: 5
Sixth round: 3
Seventh round: 8
NU compared to the Big Ten
BTN’s Tom Dienhart had an interesting look at how the Big Ten has fared in the past 10 NFL Drafts. The Wildcats were 10th in the conference with 12 total draft picks — ahead of Minnesota and Indiana, which both have 11 — and they tied for ninth with one first round pick, tied with Michigan State and Minnesota, and ahead of Indiana. Some notes about the Big Ten overall:
— Not surprisingly, Ohio State has the most overall picks at 59, but in a somewhat surprising development, Iowa is No. 2 with 45.
— Considering Michigan State’s recent recruiting success and general on-field success, it’s somewhat surprising to see the Spartans tied for eight in overall draft picks and ninth in number of first round picks. Considering the aforementioned recruiting success, expect MSU to rise on this list in the next few years.
— NU’s top two positions in the draft in that timespan are offensive line and defensive line, with three picks each. The best years were 2005, 2006 and 2010, with three picks each.