Maybe it’s unrelated to the sad state of Big Ten football these days, but it’s been almost 20 years since a quarterback from the conference was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Kerry Collins back in 1995 was the last, going on to have a career that last 17 seasons, making it to the Super Bowl once.
It doesn’t mean Big Ten quarterbacks don’t get into the NFL. It’s just that they don’t make much of an impression during college on scouts. Maybe it has something to do with the bias against the conference in recent years while everyone is drooling over the SEC.
There are five starting quarterbacks in the league right now from the Big Ten: Tom Brady on the Patriots (played for Michigan), Drew Brees on the Saints (played at Purdue), Chad Henne on the Jaguars (played for Michigan), Brian Hoyer on the Browns (played for Michigan State) and Russell Wilson, Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson, playing for the Seattle Seahwks. He had one season with Wisconsin after playing most of his college career at North Carolina State.
Maybe the first round status doesn’t matter. There have been 48 quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL since 1995. A lot of them have gone nowhere, and didn’t stay in the league for very long. Of those selected, probably only Peyton Manning has had a better or equal career to Tom Brady, who’ll obviously end up in the hall of fame five years after he retires.
This number doesn’t actually mean anything, but it comes around with perfect timing considering how badly the Big Ten is doing in big games. Not just how this season began, with Ohio State losing to Virginia Tech, Michigan crushed by Notre Dame and Michigan State losing a big deceleration game at Oregon, but the league’s inability to be close to relevant when it comes to playing for the national title over the last six seasons.
Of the five starting quarterbacks we mentioned, two will be in the hall of fame, and Wilson’s career is heading in a very right direction going by his first two seasons. Henne and Hoyer are both decent starters/great backup type quarterbacks, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe Big Ten quarterbacks don’t make a big impression when coming out of college, but they’re usually well prepared to succeed in the NFL, even if they’re late draft picks.