Ohio State's next NFL Draft class isn't going to be as astronomically ridiculous as its last one but that doesn't mean the Buckeyes don't have a chance to etch their names in the history books. That is due to three defensive backs — Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley — who are set to become very rich men.
Partial credit for that goes to Kerry Coombs, Greg Schiano, Chris Ash and anyone else that assisted in the development of the trio that is prime to come off the board among the first 32 picks on Thursday. Lattimore and Hooker saw their stock rise quickly with stellar 2016 campaign. The boost in Conley attractors — he originally was viewed as a second- or third-round pick, certainly nothing to scoff at — happened in the months after the Buckeyes lost to Clemson 31-0 in the College Football Playoff.
For more details on the development, we turn to CBS Sports NFL Draft guru Dane Brugler:
If Hooker, Lattimore, Conley are drafted top-15, it'd be 1st time since 1954-55 a CFB team has back-to-back yrs w/ 3 top-15 picks #OhioState— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 18, 2017
That's, uh, a long time. You probably remember the three players that went top-15 a year ago from Ohio State: the then-San Diego Chargers took Joey Bosa third overall, Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth and the New York Giants selected Eli Apple 10th.
If Conley's rise because of terrific NFL Combine and Pro Day workouts coupled with strong interviews cements him as a top-15 pick on Thursday along with Hooker and Lattimore, the Buckeyes will match Notre Dame's 1954-55 teams, who Brugler referenced in his tweet. The NFL Draft was much different back then. The first round lasted 13 picks, while each subsequent one went 12.
Here are the members of the Fighting Irish that went 15th or higher those two seasons:
- 1954: Tackle Art Hunter, taken third by the Green Bay Packers; Halfback Johnny Lattner, taken seventh by the Pittsburgh Steelers; and Fullback Neil Worden, drafted ninth by the Philadelphia Eagles.
- 1955: Quarterback Ralph Guglielmi, selected fourth by the Washington Redskins; Tackle Frank Varrichione, taken sixth by the Pittsburgh Steelers; and Halfback Joe Heap, drafted eighth by the New York Giants.
The odds that three Buckeyes go in the top-15 for the second straight year aren't all that high considering trades are bound to happen, with quarterback-thirsty teams vying to move up into the top-10 to get their guy.
In any event, you can see where analysts have Ohio State players in their latest mocks below.
Analysts: Bleacher Report's Matt Miller (only did a two-round mock), Brugler and Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN, Daniel Jeremiah, Lance Zierlein, Bucky Brooks, Charley Casserly and Chad Reuter of NFL.com, Rotoworld's Josh Norris, Nate Davis of USA TODAY, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated and Dieter Kurtenbach of FOX Sports. The number in parenthesis is where each analyst had the player in their previous mock unless they did not update it from last time.
Of note: The latest projection Kiper and McShay came together, in an every-other-pick format.
|MALIK HOOKER, S||6 (6)||6 (6)||7 (7)||7 (7)||17 (17)||7 (5)||7 (12)||7 (2)||7 (7)||3 (4)||7 (5)||3 (5)||7 (10)||7 (7)|
|MARSHON LATTIMORE, CB||5 (5)||5 (3)||3 (6)||2 (6)||5 (6)||3 (6)||3 (5)||3 (5)||5 (3)||6 (6)||11 (2)||10 (7)||5 (16)||3 (5)|
|GAREON CONLEY, CB||29 (29)||17 (NR)||12 (18)||14 (29)||–||11 (10)||12 (NR)||27 (NR)||13 (24)||10 (43)||6 (14)||28 (NR)||14 (56)||14 (36)|
|RAEKWON MCMILLAN, LB||79* (NR)||55 (NR)||55 (46)||–||77 (NR)||–||–||–||–||48 (64)||–||–||NR (52)||65 (54)|
|CURTIS SAMUEL, RB/WR||40* (46*)||50 (NR)||56 (75)||40 (NR)||–||40* (40*)||–||–||–||50 (33)||–||–||71 (NR)||76 (64)|
|NOAH BROWN, WR||–||–||NR (108)||–||–||–||–||–||–||NR (106)||–||–||–||217 (NR)|
|PAT ELFLEIN, C||57* (58*)||–||NR (69)||–||–||–||–||–||–||160 (NR)||–||–||47 (NR)||146 (70)|
An interesting tidbit: the ESPN guys have Hooker coming off the board two picks after Michigan defensive back/linebacker Jabrill Peppers.
The 2017 NFL Draft order:
- 1. Cleveland Browns
- 2. San Francisco 49ers
- 3. Chicago Bears
- 4. Jacksonville Jaguars
- 5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)
- 6. New York Jets
- 7. Los Angeles Chargers
- 8. Carolina Panthers
- 9. Cincinnati Bengals
- 10. Buffalo Bills
- 11. New Orleans Saints
- 12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
- 13. Arizona Cardinals
- 14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
- 15. Indianapolis Colts
- 16. Baltimore Ravens
- 17. Washington Redskins
- 18. Tennessee Titans
- 19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 20. Denver Broncos
- 21. Detroit Lions
- 22. Miami Dolphins
- 23. New York Giants
- 24. Oakland Raiders
- 25. Houston Texans
- 26. Seattle Seahawks
- 27. Kansas City Chiefs
- 28. Dallas Cowboys
- 29. Green Bay Packers
- 30. Pittsburgh Steelers
- 31. Atlanta Falcons
- 32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)
As you can see, many analysts feel like Conley is a first-round pick though where exactly he comes off the board is up for debate. Some think he is a top-15 player, while others see him sneaking into the bottom of the first round.
Noah Brown's name fell off the latest mocks, while middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan continues to appear like he will hear his name called in the middle of the second or third round. Pat Elflein is a projected fourth or fifth round pick by those analysts that did mock drafts out that far, but Rang still had him in the second. Curtis Samuel's stock continues to vary depending on where you look. It is clear analysts believe he is a top talent, but where he fits in an offense may be more important.
Hooker, Lattimore and Conley look like locks to hear their names called on Thursday night. It might be a little later into the weekend before the next Buckeye is selected.
The NFL Draft kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday in Philadelphia.