Former Ohio State Players Who Should've Been First-Round NFL Draft Selections

By David Regimbal on April 19, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Former Ohio State Wideout Michael Thomas

When Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins' names were called on the opening night of the 2019 NFL Draft, Ohio State tied USC for the most first-round selections ever with 81.

The Buckeyes are expected to overtake the Trojans and stand alone atop that mountain when Chase Young and Jeff Okudah are selected in the first round on Thursday night. It will be a good moment for the program, ammunition for recruiting and a testament to what Ohio State football produces.

And to think, those numbers could've been stronger.

Throughout the years, there have been several former Buckeyes who were overlooked in the draft. If NFL teams could magically turn back time and have another crack at things, these three Buckeyes in particular would've been first-rounders.

Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver 

Ohio State's 2016 NFL draft class was legendary as it featured five players taken in the first round: Joey Bosa (third overall), Ezekiel Elliott (fourth), Eli Apple (10th), Taylor Decker (16th) and Darron Lee (20th).

None of those players have produced at the historical clip Michael Thomas has for the New Orleans Saints. 

Thomas is rewriting the NFL record book after hauling in a single-season record 149 receptions last season. He also holds the record for most receptions (470) and most receiving yards (5,512) and a player's first four seasons.

Five receivers were selected ahead of Thomas in the draft, including four in the first round.

Terry McLaurin, Wide Receiver

Scary Terry was a sleeper who turned into an absolute stud as a rookie for Washington last year.

He entered the draft process projected as a late-round selection, but slowly started creeping his way up draft boards after a strong Senior Bowl and combine showing.

Teams started to discover his speed, route-running ability and sure hands, but he was still under-valued and slipped to the middle of the third round, where he was selected by Washington No. 76 overall.

McLaurin blew up as a rookie, catching 58 passes for 919 yards and seven touchdowns in a Redskins passing attack that would've been dismal without him.

Imagine if the Patriots had taken McLaurin instead of N'Keal Harry in the first round. Harry struggled last season, hauling in just 12 catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

James Laurinaitis, Linebacker

James Laurinaitis was a fan favorite in Columbus and put together an unbelievable collegiate career, earning consensus first-team All American honors three years in a row.

Those accolades didn't translate into the assumption that he could dominate similarly in the NFL. Laurinaitis slipped out of the first round and was taken by St. Louis at No. 35 overall. 

He went on to have a terrific pro career, playing seven of his eight seasons with the Rams. In each of those seven seasons he eclipsed 100 tackles and finished his career with 869 total tackles and 10 interceptions.

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