It's never too early to look into the future, right? I put together a chart based on the 11W scholarship grid to look at who will be in the starting lineup next year, who might be picked in the draft (hint: a lot -- maybe a new NCAA record), and who might be here for 2024. As a bonus, I'm going to venture a guess at the chances our roster has what it takes to win it all in these two years. So let's start with the chart.
RED: 2023 is last year I expect this player to be at OSU
GREEN: 2023 Starter and likely draft pick
BLUE: 2024 Starter
Chart link for those of you on mobile
Based on the chart, I see a minimum of 16 players drafted next year. This would set a new record, surpassing Georgia's 15 from last year. Let's discuss the controversial inclusions here: McCord and Fleming. I believe McCord will win the job and I believe he will go to the draft because every QB in the Day era has gone to the draft as soon as they were eligible. Fleming is a very good receiver and would be a number 1 at many schools. He has a really high floor although maybe a lower ceiling than some others. Certainly worth a late round pick with his measurables and I think he will go because I just don't see him increasing his draft stock in 2024 -- he will always be a late round pick without the type of all-world attributes of an Egbuka or Harrison.
Let's talk about the controversial exclusions: Johnson, Chambers, Burke/Hancock, Proctor. TBH, I could see any or all of them making a run at the NFL, but here's why I left them off. Johnson is a classic FA pickup that ends up staying in the league for a while. Not sure he gets picked though. As good as Chambers has been, he just doesn't seem like NFL material to me. But if he measures off the charts, particularly in speed, maybe he gets picked. Burke/Hancock may be the one most likely on the chart to make me look foolish because I could absolutely see one or both making huge strides next year and becoming a lockdown who capitalizes on a great season to get picked high. I could just as easily see them having a year like last year, in which case, neither would be picked, and burke in particular, has a chance of losing his spot completely with the talent who is coming in. And finally, we have the enigma who is Josh Proctor. I personally don't think he was given a fair shot this past year. Ransom played really well so it was hard to keep him off the field, but he had just as many painful mistakes as proctor while not being the type of enforcer that Proctor is. Proctor was also viewed as an NFL pick last preseason if he recovered properly from his broken leg. He didn't and he wasn't.
So that's my take on next year's draft. If my analysis holds, we would get 16 plus any of the four below -- comfortably beating the record of 15 set by Georgia. But at the very least, even if you take off my controversial inclusions, that's 14 almost certainly picked next year. So if just one of the 6 controversial options go to the draft, we will tie the record.
So what does this mean for our chances of hoisting the trophy next year and the year after? Well, obviously, next year is a HUGE year for us. It's a window for winning the championship that will likely close the year after for a season or two. We will have the most upper class heavy team I can remember in years and it will absolutely be our best chance since 2019 and this past year, which means we better not squander it. 2024 will be a much tougher year and quite possibly a year with multiple regular season losses. We will most likely be playing a schedule that includes all the normal folks plus USC (at least) and Washington, all the while breaking in a new QB along with at least 13 other starters and possibly more. We will certainly have a lot of talent in 2024, but it will be young and we can't sleep on the fact that these classes will be the classes who matched up with the first NIL classes of the big SEC schools. That means while our talent will be strong, we will no longer be #2 in composite talent, but likely closer to 5 by that point unless things change regarding NIL.
In summary, I believe we will set the record for draft picks next year, have a very good shot at winning it all, and then drop off substantially in 2024. Go Bucks!