As expected, offensive tackle Jack Conklin is the first Spartan to hear his name called in the draft. It happened as the Tennessee Titans traded up from the 15th pick to acquire the eighth pick from the Cleveland Browns, then took Conklin there. The fact that a team traded up to take him in the top 10 shows just how much respect Conklin had around the NFL before he even plays a down in it.
An All-American left tackle for the Spartans, Conklin announced he would forgo his senior season of college eligibility and enter the 2016 draft back in January. The fact that he was even in position to announce his decision to turn pro seemed like a pipe dream when the 6-6, 308-pound Conklin came to MSU as a walk-on from Plainwell.
But a tireless work ethic and drive for greatness led to Conklin emerging as a leader on the offensive line over the past three seasons and became one of the best linemen in college football. Conklin started 38 of the 39 career games he played in as a Spartan.
He was a key element of Michigan State's success the past three seasons, as the Spartans finished 36-5 with a 6-2 record against top 10 teams while winning two Big Ten titles.
Conklin arrived at MSU in 2012 before redshirting that year. As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Conklin started 13 games (10 at left tackle; three at right tackle) and was named first-team Freshman All-American by Sporting News, CollegeFootballNews.com and the Football Writers Association of America.
He then picked up Second-Team All-Big Ten honors in 2014 after starting every game at right tackle. This past season, Conklin missed two games with a leg injury, but still was a lockdown tackle on the blindside and earned All-American and All-Big Ten honors from nearly every national outlet.
Coming into the draft, Conklin was projected to go as high as No. 4 to the Dallas Cowboys and as low as No. 15 to the Titans. Ironically, it is the Titans who got him, but it was will with a top-10 pick.
As for Conklin's NFL outlook, he shouldn't too tough of a time winning a starting job in Tennesee. The Titans' offensive line isn't exactly a strength of the team, and Byron Bell is a huge liability at right tackle. Conklin shouldn't have much trouble winning a starting job this year.