ESPN’s Mel Kiper released the latest version of his 2018 NFL Draft Big Board on Thursday morning, and the list featured five players from the Big Ten, with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley holding the top spot.
Barkley also topped Kiper’s previous Big Board, as Kiper is a strong believer in the running back’s athleticism, running ability and on-field prowess. The other Big Ten players to be ranked in Kiper’s Top 25 are Ohio State’s Denzel Ward (No. 9) and Billy Price (No. 18), Iowa’s Josh Jackson (No. 20) and Michigan’s Maurice Hurst (No. 23).
Barkley is coming off an incredible season with the Nittany Lions, as he rushed for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns on 217 carries in 13 games.
Ward played in 11 games with the Buckeyes in 2017, and he made 37 tackles (30 solo) and intercepted 2 passes. The Ohio State cornerback also finished with 15 passes defended and 17 pass break ups.
Price moved from offensive guard to center in 2017, and he won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center. Price stretched his starting streak to 55 games, tying Pat Elflein’s Ohio State record.
Jackson made a name for himself in 2017, as the Iowa cornerback put his athleticism on full display. Jackson finished his final season with the Hawkeyes with 48 tackles (34 solo) and made 8 interceptions, 2 of which he returned for touchdowns.
Michigan’s Hurst was the final Big Ten player to make Kiper’s Big Board. Hurst had a tremendous season with the Wolverines, recording 59 tackles (29 solo), 13 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble and 5.5 sacks.
The 2018 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 26.