COLUMBUS (WCMH) — I stood in the theater in Chicago last year and watched 5 Buckeyes go in the top 20 picks of the draft. It was a massive statement about Ohio State’s program and it’s future.
That future is now.
A year later three Buckeye defensive backs will likely go in the first round—perhaps in the first twenty picks. Think about that—3 of the 4 starters in OSU’s secondary last year will be first round picks in the same year. Makes you wonder how anyone completed a pass on the Bucks.
Here’s a look at where each of the Buckeyes who are serious candidates for this year’s draft could be taken.
Marshon Lattimore — #3 Overall to Chicago. He’s the highest rated CB entering the draft, ran a blistering 40 time at the NFL Combine and played a full, injury-free season in 2016. Those injuries, specifically his hamstrings, are the main reason a team could have concerns about his shelf life in the league. But his talent is too good to risk passing.
Malik Hooker — #5 to Tennessee. I think he’s the best player in the draft, period. Yes, he only played one full year at his position. But Malik is the most dynamic player in the draft—and he’s a safety. I know he gets compared to Ed Reed all the time and that’s not really fair to Malik. Truth is… he doesn’t have many comparisons. He can leap and track a ball in the air as well as any DB I can remember.
Gareon Conley — #11 to New Orleans. Let’s set aside the allegations against Conley which were made public this week. He has not been charged with a crime so it will be up to NFL teams to decide if they want to take it into consideration. The Saints last year drafted Michael Thomas and Vonn Bell, both from Ohio State. You know how that worked out? Pretty daggone well. Thomas was, in my view, the best rookie WR in the league and Bell was a sure tackler in the secondary as a rookie. I could see the Saints going back to the Buckeye well and getting another talent. (Many mock drafts have Conley going in the teens or 20’s of the 1st round)
Raekwon McMillan — 2nd Round. Elite leader and smart defender who will make an NFL city very happy. He can run better than some scouts think and can hit with tenacity. And if someone really needs a MLB in this draft, I could see him sneaking into the late 1st round.
Curtis Samuel — 2nd Round. He ran the 3rd fastest 40 time at the Combine this year but many teams wonder just what position he will play in the NFL, be it receiver, running back or…. Other. But his game tape at OSU and his play-making creativity should warrant a pick in this round.
Pat Elflein — 3rd round. I think Pat should be drafted higher than this, but he will be in the league a long time. Versatile lineman who could branch back out from center and play either guard spot. With limited rosters, versatility goes a long way.
Noah Brown — 4th Round. I would have loved to see Noah return to OSU next year, because he could have built his draft stock into a potential 1st or 2nd rounder. He has incredible hands and good physicality but scouts will wonder if he can get open at the NFL level. Outside of the Oklahoma game, he did not put up eye popping stats, and that could be for a number of reasons. He was also coming back from a broken leg the year before, so perhaps his rookie NFL year will be a better judge of his talent.
Cameron Johnston —7th round. OSU’s outstanding punter I think has a good chance to get picked in this draft, which is admittedly rare for a specialist. He can kick for distance, but truly specializes in trapping teams inside their own 10 yard line.
Dontre Wilson —Free Agent. Dontre was a mega talent coming out of high school but due to a nagging foot injury it was never realized at OSU. He was always considered a threat in the return game but in his OSU career that did not materialize. He’s also small-ish for the NFL game, but when healthy, he can get off the ball with incredible quickness.
Corey Smith —Free Agent. Injury-riddled career at OSU but has good size and hands. He may get an opportunity.