Top Five Under-drafted Big Ten Players in the 2011 NFL Draft


If you are a die hard fan of a specific team in the NFL, you probably spend a lot of the time in the off-season thinking about who your team is going to select in the first round. That should maintain a lot of your time but what really makes your team is who they can steal in the later rounds and who they can snag as an undrafted free agent. For example, Kurt Warner–a two time MVP and former Hy-Vee cashier who thought Hy-Vee was going to be his passion. Tom Brady wasn’t drafted out of Michigan until the sixth round and is a future Hall of Famer. Brett Favre was even drafted in the second round, and they slaughtered his name on draft day.

Now lets get to some athletes out of the Big Ten conference who were drafted in the later rounds that could possibly be a future star in the league. I’m going to break down five athletes and rank them 1-5. 1 being the most underrated and so on.

5. Martez Wilson (3rd round 72nd pick, New Orleans Saints)

Martez Wilson flat out performed in 2010 with over 100 tackles and adding four sacks to his resume. He dropped to the third round and that came as a surprise to a lot of people, myself included. Entering at the end of his junior year maybe why late first round to early second round talent dropped to the third round. Wilson has great size and athleticism which will help New Orleans defense as soon as he can start practicing. Wilson is a very physical player and uses his body weight when driving into players in traffic. He is very athletically gifted to fit into the NFL as a great linebacker.

4. Dane Sanzenbacher Undrafted:  When Sanzenbacher’s name was not called during the three day draft event I was completely shocked. Sanzenbacher is a guy who can play in the slot of eventually be a one or a two. He is a very reliable target and can work in the middle of the field extremely well. He was the 2010 team MVP for the Buckeyes and does a lot of community work so you would think he would be a solid draft pick. He does lack speed and does take too many false steps at the line of scrimmage that obviously lowered his stock. As soon as free agency begins, we can all assume Sanzenbacker will be one of the first guys in the air flying to their new destination.

3. Greg Jones (6th round 185th pick, New York Giants)

Greg Jones performance slipped last year there is no doubt about that, but the former Big Ten defensive player of the year should have a solid NFL career if all goes well. With over 460 tackles in four years at Michigan State and 16.5 sacks, if there is one word to define Greg’s play, its production. He has also grown to be a great leader and has great understanding of his position that will lead him to great success in New York.

2. Ricky Stanzi (5th round 135th pick Kansas City Chiefs) Ricky Stanzi is a winner. a winner of 3 bowl victories including an Orange bowl win over Georgia Tech, Stanzi knows what it takes to win ball games. His accuracy and strength are solid. He normally throws the ball out in front of the receivers in order for them to make a play after the catch. If there is an area where Stanzi struggles its decision making but he has shown to improve that at Iowa during his senior season. The most underrated thing about Stanzi’s game is his ability to move around in the pocket to avoid the rush. He is able to extend the play with his feet more than what people think or expect. Stanzi has drawn comparisons to Tom Brady and while it may be unfair to compare him now, I wouldn’t call it out of the question down the road.

1. Tyler Sash (6th round 198th pick) I honestly thought Sash would come out of the draft before the 6th round. His height and coming out of college early may have hurt him but he has an eye for the ball. In watching everyone of Sash’s games and seeing over half of them live in person, I can tell you he knows exactly where to be on the field and knows the insides and outs to the play books. He is a sure tacker and has the ability to shine near the line of scrimmage. Sash is an all around excellent player that can do anything and everything. He will shine in the NFL.

If there is one thing the Big Ten is good at its producing NFL talent. The coaches prepare each payer very well and for the most part they are clean off the field. If a coach is looking for a player who can make an impact right away, normally they look towards the Big Ten.