For a football program that hasn't had much success, Illinois has sent its fair share of players to the NFL. The last two years, the Illini have had players selected in the first round of the draft. Running back Rashard Mendenhall was chosen 23rd overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2008 draft. Cornerback Vontae Davis was drafted with the 25th pick by the Miami Dolphins this year.
According to this mock draft from Yahoo, offensive lineman Jon Asamoah (pictured) is on track to be chosen in the first round in 2010. There's a chance injury-prone wide receiver Arrelious Benn will be taken in the first round, too. Benn was a preseason All-American in several publications, but a nagging high ankle sprain and the overall ineffectiveness of the Illinois offense has hurt his stock this season.
Benn doesn't have a single TD reception this year. He's made just 26 catches for 298 yards. His lone TD all season came on a 3-yard rush in Saturday's 38-13 win over Michigan. Despite that, Benn clearly has NFL size, speed and athleticism. You just wonder whether the injury history will send him tumbling into the third or fourth round.
Here's a complete list of former Illini in the NFL. Pierre Thomas, David Diehl, Tony Pashos, Neil Rackers, Eugene Wilson, Brandon Moore, Greg Lewis, Kelvin Hayden, Steve Weatherford -- a lot of these guys have had nice pro careers. It's really a pretty good list considering the lack of team success Illinois has had over the years.