As the horn sounded on the 2016 NFL Draft yesterday evening in Chicago, Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes walked away with a school-record five selections in the 1st round, a Draft record of 10 players chosen in the first three rounds, and tallied a grand total of 12 selections during the three day event.
Lofty stats to be sure, the Buckeyes were also hoping to break the modern NFL Draft record of having 14 total players selected, a standard set by the 2004 Buckeye draft class.
Though the Buckeyes fell short of eclipsing that mark, the drama surrounding their attempt to do so got me curious as to exactly how successful the 2004 crop was on the field, and by extension, what kind of production the 2016 class will need to come up with to be deemed better than their 2004 counterparts.
|W. SMITH||DE||1 (18)||9||1 Pro Bowl, 120 starts in 139 G, 67.5 sacks, 20 FF|
|C. GAMBLE||CB||1 (28)||9||123 G, 117 starts, 508 tackles, 27 INT|
|M. JENKINS||WR||1 (29)||9||354 rec, 4,427 yards, 25 TD|
|B. HARTSOCK||TE||3 (68)||10||131 G, 49 starts, 312 rec yards|
|T. ANDERSON||DL||3 (74)||4||43 G, 17 starts, 82 tackles|
|B.J. SANDER||P||3 (87)||1||64 punts, 39.2 yards/punt, long of 53|
|D. SCOTT||DL||3 (88)||6||57 G, 28 starts, 134 tackles, 9.5 sacks|
|A. STEPANOVICH||OL||4 (100)||5||46 G, 34 starts|
|W. ALLEN||S||4 (111)||12||176 G, 52 starts, 406 tackles, 7 INT, active player|
|C. KRENZEL||QB||5 (148)||1||6 G, 5 starts, 59/127, 47% comp, 718 yds, 3 TD / 6 INT|
|D. CARTER||WR||5 (163)||3||33 G, 9 starts, 71 rec, 977 yards, 8 TD|
|R. REYNOLDS||LB||5 (165)||3||33 G, 2 starts, 25 tackles|
|S. OLIVEA||OL||7 (209)||4||60 G, 57 starts|
|A. CLARKE||OL||7 (227)||2||28 G, 18 starts|
None other than Will Smith was the headliner of Ohio State's 2004 draft class as the New Orleans Saints made him the 18th overall selection. The only Buckeye from this class to make the Pro Bowl, Smith started 120 of 139 games and his 67.5 career sacks stand 84th on the NFL's all-time list. Smith ranked 5th in the league in 2009 with 13.0 sacks.
Chris Gamble went 28th to the Carolina Panthers and enjoyed a nine-year career in Charlotte starting 117 games, posting 508 tackles and 27 picks. Gamble ranked in the top six in the league for interceptions in two different seasons.
Michael Jenkins was the third Buckeye selected in the 1st round going 29th to the Atlanta Falcons. From a yardage perspective, Jenkins went on to become Ohio State's 10th-most prolific in the NFL with 354 receptions for 4,427 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Tight end Ben Hartsock went next as the Indianapolis Colts tabbed him with the 68th overall pick. Hartsock enjoyed a 10-year career and while his receiving totals weren't much to rave about he was one of the league's best blocking tight ends and logged 49 starts in 131 career appearances.
B.J. Sander went next as the Green Bay Packers went rogue selecting a punter with the 87th pick. Sander lasted just one season however on 39.2 yards per punt.
Darrion Scott logged six years in the league and was a two-year starter in Minnesota on the way to 134 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
The 4th round saw Alex Stepanovich selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 100th pick and he immediately joined the starting lineup earning some all-rookie team love on the way to 34 starts in 46 career games though injuries limited a promising career to five seasons.
Will Allen went next with the 111th pick and the defensive back remains the lone active player from this class. In fact, Allen started 13 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. During what is currently a 12-year career, Allen has seen action in 176 games with 52 starts yielding 406 tackles and seven interceptions.
The 5th round saw a trio of Buckeyes selected led by Craig Krenzel at pick 148 by the Chicago Bears. Krenzel actually started five games in 2004 but only completed 47% of his passes with three touchdowns against six picks. He wouldn't see action beyond that season.
Wide receiver Drew Carter went 163rd to the Panthers catching 71 passes for 977 yards and eight touchdowns over a three year career. Linebacker Robert Reynolds rounded out the 5th rounders at pick 165 and went on to appear in 33 games with just two starts for the Tennessee Titans.
An absolute steal in the 7th round with pick 209, Shane Olivea started 57 games across four seasons at right tackle for the San Diego Chargers. Fellow o-liner Adrien Clarke was selected with the 227th pick and saw action in 28 games over a two-year career including 18 starts, 14 of which came with the New York Jets in 2007.
Collectively, the 2004 class averaged a tenure of just over 5 1/2 years with two guys lasting 10+ seasons and a trio with nine. Six players went in the first three rounds while eight went in the last four.
So how will the 2016 class fare? It's impossible to know right now but from a draft slot perspective, this year's class looks better on paper. The noted 10 picks in the first three rounds is an all-time record and its 12 selections through the first four rounds is six more than the 2004 class.
|J. BOSA||1 (3)||SAN DIEGO|
|E. ELLIOTT||1 (4)||DALLAS|
|E. APPLE||1 (10)||NY GIANTS|
|T. DECKER||1 (16)||DETROIT|
|D. LEE||1 (20)||NY JETS|
|M. THOMAS||2 (47)||NEW ORLEANS|
|V. BELL||2 (61)||NEW ORLEANS|
|A. WASHINGTON||3 (80)||BUFFALO|
|B. MILLER||3 (85)||HOUSTON|
|N. VANNETT||3 (94)||SEATTLE|
|J. PERRY||4 (102)||SAN DIEGO|
|C. JONES||4 (139)||BUFFALO|
The fourth pick, Ezekiel Elliott looks like he could be the crown jewel considering his skill set and situation. Selected by the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott will run behind what is currently one of the league's best lines for a team also featuring a proven passing game.
Joey Bosa's versatility will be a welcome addition in San Diego and we'll just have to wait and see if he can carve out a career on par with the near-decade of excellent production turned in by that of Smith.
There's enough discussion about Eli Apple in the 10th slot that many will take a wait and see approach instead of declaring him a sure-fire success worthy of that draft position.
Taylor Decker found a home in Detroit with the 16th pick while Darron Lee completed Ohio State's 1st round haul with pick No. 20 to the New York Jets. How will each of them fare? Nobody can say for sure though I personally like Decker's chances to enjoy a long tenure as a starter.
Moving on the 2nd round, Michael Thomas could be a guy that ultimately out produces some of his 1st round teammates and he certainly landed in a favorable spot with Drew Brees still with a few years in the tank to get him the ball in New Orleans.
Vonn Bell will join Thomas in the Bayou and I'm also bullish on him potentially outperforming a couple of his teammates selected earlier.
A trio of Buckeyes went in the 3rd round; Adolphus Washington 80th to Buffalo, Braxton Miller 85th to Houston and Nick Vannett 94th to Seattle. Obviously, the Miller pick is full of intrigue as the world waits to see if can successfully continue his transformation as a wide receiver at the next level.
Finally, Joshua Perry joins Bosa in San Diego following his 4th round selection and Cardale Jones, the 139th pick, will take his big arm and small sample size to Buffalo.
It will take years to answer the question of whether or not the 2016 class will outperform the 2004 crop. What say on how it will pan out?