Ohio State Football's Success in the NFL Extends Outside First Round Draft Picks

By Nick Clarkson on April 29, 2017 at 8:45 am
Mike Vrabel is one of many former Ohio State football players selected after the first round of the NFL Draft to go on to have a successful professional career.

Defensive backs Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley were the lone Buckeyes selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. A list of other former members of the Scarlet and Gray, however, reveals that Ohio State success in the league goes beyond the first day.

Dick LeBeau - Defensive Back

Selection: Round 5 of the 1959 NFL Draft

LeBeau played for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, and was a member of the 1957 National Championship team. He was originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns, but after being cut, LeBeau joined the Lions months later and played in Detroit for 14 seasons.

During his time in the NFL, he recorded 62 interceptions and was named to the Pro Bowl three-straight seasons.

After his playing career, LeBeau joined the coaching staff of six different NFL teams — including his current position as defensive coordinator and assistant coach of the Tennessee Titans. He made a name for himself during his tenure as the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2014, where he won two Super Bowls.

Jim Marshall - Defensive End 

Selection: Round 4 of the 1960 NFL Draft

Marshall was a Buckeye for just one season before leaving before his senior season and joining the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. After one season in TCUN, he was drafted as the 44th overall pick by the Browns in 1960.

One year later Marshall was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, where he played from 1961 to 1979. He started 282 consecutive games as a member of the "Purple People Eaters", and is a two-time Pro Bowler credited with 127 sacks.

Marshall still holds two NFL records: Most Fumble Recoveries (30), Shortest Play (-66 yards) on the "Wrong Way Run".

Pepper Johnson - Defensive End/Linebacker

Selection: Round 2 of the 1986 NFL Draft

At Ohio State, Johnson played under Earle Bruce and lettered every year from 1982 to 1985. He led the team in tackles in 1984 and 1985, and was named a team co-captain and defensive MVP by his teammates in 1984 and 1985.

In 1985, Johnson was named as an All-American and ended his college career with 379 total tackles, 5 sacks, and 12 tackles for loss.

Pepper was selected 51st overall by the New York Giants in 1986, and won two Super Bowls under Bill Parcells in seven seasons. He played for three other teams before retiring after the 1998 season — and in 193 career games, he notched 983 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 14 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles.

Cris Carter - Wide Receiver

Selection: Round 4 of the 1987 NFL Supplemental Draft

As one of the more well-known Buckeyes, Carter played at Ohio State for three seasons and was named a consensus All-American after his junior year in 1986 — the first for the Scarlet and Gray at the position.

After issues of hiring an agent, he was ruled ineligible for the 1987 season and then was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Supplemental Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Carter spent three seasons with the Eagles before the Vikings claimed him off waivers in 1990. In Minnesota he ultimately became a star, and after 12 seasons and a one-year stint with the Miami Dolphins, he retired after the 2002 season.

In 234 games in his career, Carter reached 1,101 receptions, 13,899 yards, 130 touchdowns and was selected to eight straight Pro Bowls between 1993 and 2000.

Chris Spielman - Linebacker

Selection: Round 2 of the 1988 NFL Draft

Another well-known Ohio State alumni, Spielman was a two-time All-American as a Buckeye, intercepted 11 passes, and won the Lombardi Award as the best college football lineman or linebacker in 1987. He was also the team MVP his senior year, and won the Touchdown Club of Columbus's Chic Harley Award.

Spielman was drafted in the second round on the 1988 NFL Draft with the 29th overall pick by the Detroit Lions. In eight seasons there, he was named to the Pro Bowl four times and named First Team All-Pro in 1991. He then played for the Buffalo Bills in 1996 and 1997, and was limited in the 1997 season because of a neck injury that required spinal surgery.

Spielman chose to miss the 1998 season to be with his wife battling cancer, and after another neck injury with the Browns in 1999, he decided to retire. Spielman is credited with 1,181 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles and six interceptions in 148 career games.

Mike Vrabel - Linebacker

Selection: Round 3 of the 1997 NFL Draft

Vrabel played defensive end for the Buckeyes from 1993 to 1996, where he was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in both 1995 and 1996. As a senior, he was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American.

Vrabel was drafted 91st overall in the 1997 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he spent four seasons before joining the New England Patriots. He won three Super Bowl titles in his first four years under Bill Belichick, and was a vital part of a superb defense.

In early 2009 the Patriots traded Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent two seasons before retiring in 2011 to join the Ohio State coaching staff. He ended his playing career with 11 interceptions, 19 forced fumbles, 57 sacks, and 511 tackles in 206 games.

Kurt Coleman - Safety

Selection: Round 7 of the 2010 NFL Draft

Coleman is one of the more recent members of the Scarlet and Gray, and was a defensive back for the Buckeyes from 2006 to 2009 — where he recorded 219 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and nine interceptions.

During the 2010 NFL Draft, Coleman was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 7th round as the 244 overall pick. Four seasons there and one in Kansas City later, he signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2015.

Since then, Coleman has blossomed and is currently a key part to an excellent Carolina defense. In 30 games with the Panthers, he has recorded 11 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), one forced fumble and 118 tackles.

View 4 Comments