2016 NFL Draft Update: Conklin Selected by Tennessee in First Round

2015 First-Team All-American becomes Michigan State’s 36th all-time first-round selection, including its 25th since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967. 

CHICAGO – Michigan State All-America offensive tackle Jack Conklin has been selected by the Tennessee Titans in the first round (No. 8 overall) of the 2016 National Football League Draft on Thursday, April 28. Conklin, who announced his decision to forgo his senior season on Jan. 6, becomes MSU’s 36th all-time first-round selection, including its 25th since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967.

Conklin becomes Michigan State’s third-straight first-round selection, joining cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard in 2014 (No. 24 overall by Cincinnati) and Trae Waynes in 2015 (No. 11 overall by Minnesota). It marks the program’s longest streak since producing first-round selections in six consecutive NFL Drafts from 1986-91. In addition, he becomes the first Spartan offensive lineman to be picked in the first round since Tony Mandarich in 1989 (No. 2 overall by Green Bay). Conklin is the highest drafted Spartan in the head coach Mark Dantonio era.

Michigan State has had at least once player chosen every year since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967.

A three-year starter, Conklin helped the Spartans to a combined record of 36-5, including back-to-back bowl victories over Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl and Baylor in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic as well as an appearance in the 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal against Alabama.

The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Conklin earned All-America honors from Sporting News (first team), USA TODAY (first team), Associated Press (second team), FWAA (second team), Walter Camp Football Foundation (second team), Phil Steele (third team) and SI.com (honorable mention).

A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, Conklin was named Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week a team-best four times (Western Michigan, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State) during the regular season. Although he missed two games (Purdue, Rutgers) with a leg injury, Conklin still collected 65.5 knockdowns and graded out a winner in eight of his 10 regular-season games.

“Jack Conklin is a gifted athlete, who embodies all of the qualities of the ideal left tackle,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “He’s big, strong, quick and athletic. A two-time All-Big Ten selection, Jack became a dominant left tackle. He’s an excellent pass-blocker, but he’s also extremely physical in the run game. He’s an intelligent player, who runs extremely well for his size. Jack was an impact player in our starting lineup for the last three years, and his toughness permeated the entire offensive line.

“There’s no doubt that he’ll be an outstanding tackle at the next level. He’s well prepared to transition into the next chapter of his life, and we wish him nothing but the best as he chases his dream of playing in the NFL. He’s not only been a major contributor over the last three seasons, but he’s also been a tremendous ambassador for our football program.”

“Jack Conklin is a hardworking, tough, dedicated player,” MSU offensive line coach Mark Staten said. “There’s nothing that ‘Jack-John’ won’t accomplish when he puts his mind to it. I remember the spring of his red-shirt freshman year when he put on his O-line goal sheet that he wanted to be a first-team Freshman All-American and he hadn’t even secured a starting position yet. Three years later, he added first-team All-America honors to his resume, and now, we can call him a first-rounder.”

“Congratulations to Jack!” MSU co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. “He’s obviously blessed with great athleticism for his size, but his competitiveness and work ethic have allowed him to develop into a player of this level. Those same qualities will continue to serve him as he matures in the next level. He’s a great human being, and it’s always a pleasure to see good people have success. We wish Jack the best of luck in Tennessee.”

The Plainwell, Michigan, native began his junior season by being named the Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week against Western Michigan, and followed that effort with a team-best 9.5 knockdowns in the win over No. 7 Oregon.

After missing two games with a sprained knee, Conklin registered a Big Ten Championship level grade for his performance in the win at No. 12 Michigan, which included 7.5 knockdowns, to earn Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week laurels. He picked up the award for the second week in a row with eight knockdowns vs. Indiana.

Following MSU’s 17-14 win at No. 2 Ohio State on Nov. 21, Conklin again was named the Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week as Michigan State rushed for 203 yards against the nation’s third-ranked defense and ended the defending National Champion Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak. In the regular-season finale at Penn State, Conklin compiled 8.5 knockdowns and the Spartans held the Nittany Lions without a sack for the first time all season.

With a healthy offensive line, the Spartans averaged 188.3 rushing yards per game against their last three Big Ten opponents, including wins over No. 2 Ohio State, Penn State and No. 4 Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Conklin saw action in 39 career games, including 38 starts (35 at left tackle, three at right tackle).

Spartan First Round NFL Draft Picks (36)
1936 – Sid Wagner, G, Detroit 
1938 – John Pingel, B, Detroit 
1950 – Lynn Chandnois, B, Pittsburgh
1952 – Bob Carey, E, LA Rams
1956 – Earl Morrall, QB, San Francisco
1957 – Clarence Peaks, B, Philadelphia
1958 – Dan Currie, C, Green Bay
1958 – Walt Kowalczyk, B, Philadelphia
1961 – Herb Adderley, B, Green Bay
1963 – Dave Behrman, C, Chicago
1963 – Ed Budde, T, Philadelphia
1967 – Bubba Smith (No. 1 overall), DE, Baltimore
1967 – Clinton Jones (No. 2 overall), HB, Minnesota
1967 – George Webster (No. 5 overall), LB, Houston
1967 – Gene Washington (No. 8 overall), WR, Minnesota
1973 – Billy Joe DuPree (No. 20 overall), TE, Dallas
1973 – Joe DeLamielluere (No. 26 overall), OG, Buffalo
1977 – Mike Cobb (No. 22 overall), TE, Cincinnati
1978 – Larry Bethea (No. 28 overall), DE, Dallas
1984 – Carl Banks (No. 3 overall), LB, NY Giants
1986 – Anthony Bell (No. 5 overall), LB, St. Louis
1987 – Mark Ingram (No. 28 overall), WR, NY Giants
1988 – Lorenzo White (No. 22 overall), RB, Houston
1989 – Tony Mandarich (No. 2 overall), T, Green Bay
1989 – Andre Rison (No. 22 overall), WR, Indianapolis
1990 – Percy Snow (No. 13 overall), LB, Kansas City
1991 – Bobby Wilson (No. 17 overall), DT, Washington
1994 – Rob Frederickson (No. 22 overall), LB, LA Raiders
1999 – Dimitrius Underwood (No. 29 overall), DE, Minnesota
2000 – 
Plaxico Burress (No. 8 overall), WR, Pittsburgh
2000 – Julian Peterson (No. 16 overall), DE, San Francisco
2002 – 
T.J. Duckett (No. 18 overall), RB, Atlanta
2003 – Charles Rogers (No. 2 overall), WR, Detroit
2014 – Darqueze Dennard (No. 24 overall), CB, Cincinnati
2015 – 
Trae Waynes (No. 11 overall), CB, Minnesota

2016 – Jack Conklin (No. 8 overall), OT, Tennessee