As Dwayne Haskins and Nick Bosa locked in their first round credentials last night, it's possible that much of the Buckeye fan world went to bed afterwards, heads nestled on their pillows, and sighed "Boy, that was fun. Can't wait until next year!" as they sweetly drifted off to sleep.
And if that was you, know this: you are a naive child and a traitor to the cause. How dare you, sir or madam? How dare you!
The NFL Draft used to be a glorious smörgåsbord of block scheduling sports entertainment. You'd wake up on a Saturday, spend approximately 14 hours watching rounds 1-4, and then pass out and watch the rest the next day. It was perfectly made for our culture of binge-watching and, coupled with some beloved annual traditions (like booing Roger Goodell or getting increasingly annoyed with Chris Berman), the incarnation of the draft that I grew up watching made for the best experience possible.
I'm not going to say that it should revert back to the good ol' days, but what I will note in this space is that segmenting the NFL Draft and isolating the first round, while a smart idea in terms of viewership and advertising dollars, also has the effect of diminishing the importance of everything that comes after, particularly for Ohio State fans.
You probably heard that as of last night, the Buckeyes tied USC for the most first round draft picks in NFL history, with 81.
This is a trend that has been accelerating in the past decade or so, thanks to the likes of guys like Ryan Shazier, Ezekiel Elliott, and of course, Vernon Gholston.
Last night, Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins got their well-earned moment of glory, and while I don't want to take away from that, I also want to point out that in recent years Ohio State players from the mid to late rounds have also made significant impacts on the NFL. While the league and ESPN wants you to get swept up in the excitement of the first round and then let that inertia just kind of carry you through the next few days, as a Buckeye fan you still have a ton to root for. Even if as, say, a Bengals fan you may not. Anyway.
In the past 15 years or so, Ohio State players from the mid to late rounds of the draft have gone on to have some pretty impressive careers. Here are a few examples of why you shouldn't sleep on them:
Several Ohio State players have been drafted in the 4th round in recent years have gone on to have notable stints in the NFL. Safety Will Allen was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2004 and played 11 productive seasons with the Buccaneers, Steelers, and Cowboys. Brian Hartline ended up having a pretty decent career himself after being drafted by the Dolphins in 2009, which, in addition to netting him a couple of 1000 yard receiving seasons also set him up nicely for the job he currently holds. And of course John Simon, 4th round selection of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2013 draft, just won a Super Bowl with the Patriots
Corey Linsley is an awesome dude who had an excellent Ohio State career, but was not particularly highly rated going into the draft. But after being drafted by the Packers in 2014, an injury thrust him into the starting center role, and it's one that Green Bay liked him so much in that they gave him 25 million dollars to keep doing it for at least another three seasons.
Nate Ebner is fairly well-known for his special teams exploits, lavish praise from Belichick, and occasional forays into rugby, but it really should be emphasized that Ebner was a walk-on junior when he first started playing for Ohio State. Despite the love and respect he earned from his teammates and coaches, he was a relative unknown to most Buckeye fans before being drafted by the Patriots in 2012. And now the guy has three Super Bowl rings.
Kurt Coleman was the 244th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. There were only 11 players behind him. He's played eight years in the league, recorded 21 interceptions, and started in a Super Bowl. Not too damn bad.
It's unfortunate how the NFL Draft is now formatted for television ends up sequestering college talent. Admirable backups, consistent starters, and unsung Division-III superstars are worthy of sharing airtime with players that'll make tens of millions of dollars on their first contract. That the NFL and ESPN seem to have more faith in individual players rather than the totality of the sport itself isn't surprising, but what that means is that it falls to us as fans of a very successful team with a ton of NFL-ready talent to support and broadcast our interest in the guys who end up in the later rounds.
I know that as an Ohio State fan, I'll be just as excited for Terry McLaurin's name to be called as Nick Bosa's, and I imagine that most Buckeyes feel the same way.