The Eleven Warriors Recruit Draft: A Trio of Rosters from Ohio State's 2020, 2021 and 2022 Recruiting Classes

By Zack Carpenter on May 13, 2020 at 9:05 am
C.J. Stroud, Kyle McCord, Jack Sawyer

We may be two weeks removed from the NFL draft, but that’s not stopping us from having a little drafting fun of our own.

This week, Eleven Warriors’ Zack Carpenter, Colin Hass-Hill and Dan Hope pieced together a three-person snake draft to craft a complete team – well, as close to it as possible – featuring Ohio State’s recruits from its 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes. 

Our main purpose? Put together the best, most complete lineup that you think can be the foundation of a roster that can beat the other two lineups in a head-to-head matchup.

Our second-biggest purpose? Kill some time until we can get back to actual, real-life football.

With the recent commitments of Tegra Tshabola and C.J. Hicks in the 2022 class and Jesse Mirco in the 2021 class, that gave us 46 recruits to draft.

Of course, part of that 46-man group is the punter Mirco and kicker Jake Seibert. It wouldn’t have been fair to give one of our teams a kicker, another a punter and neither on the other.

So, with apologies to Mirco and Seibert and to make things more equal, we eliminated them from draft eligibility and added 2021 tight end Hudson Wolfe to the mix. We aren't suggesting that Wolfe is silently committed or anything like that, but out of all the uncommitted tight ends in the 2021 and 2022 class, he is the likeliest at this point to join Ohio State. Therefore, we added him to the draft pool so that each team could have one tight end.

In our 15-round snake draft, we each selected players from the following groups to build our teams:


  • One quarterback
  • One running back
  • Two receivers
  • One tight end
  • Three offensive linemen


  • Two defensive linemen
  • One linebacker
  • One hybrid linebacker/safety (aka bullet)
  • Two cornerbacks
  • One safety

Draft-eligible players

QB: C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller, Kyle McCord
RB: Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson, Evan Pryor
WR: Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr., Mookie Cooper, Jayden Ballard, Marvin Harrison Jr.
TE: Joe Royer, Sam Hart, Hudson Wolfe
OL: Paris Johnson Jr., Luke Wypler, Josh Fryar, Grant Toutant, Jakob James, Trey Leroux, Donovan Jackson, Ben Christman, Tegra Tshabola
DL: Ty Hamilton, Jack Sawyer, Tunmise Adeleye, Darrion Henry-Young, Jacolbe Cowan, Mike Hall
LB: Cody Simon, Mitchell Melton, Reid Carrico
Hybrid LB/S: Kourt Williams II, Jaylen Johnson, C.J. Hicks
CB: Ryan Watts, Lejond Cavazos, Jakailin Johnson, Devonta Smith, Andre Turrentine, Jyaire Brown
S: Lathan Ransom, Cameron Martinez, Jantzen Dunn

As you can tell, we took a few liberties positionally on defense. With Martinez and Dunn, safety could be the destination for each of them, so we placed them there. It's possible Melton puts his hand in the dirt and becomes a defensive end, but we needed to keep him at linebacker to maintain equal numbers.

We each built our teams with our own set of criteria, philosophies, positional importance and draft strategy. That’s the point of this whole thing, anyway – to see the different ways to structure a championship team. So if you value a slot corner over an outside corner? Go ahead and snag Turrentine instead of Jakailin Johnson. A lot of this is personal preference. 

It’s not perfect. Some overall draft positions are a bit misleading, like Jack Miller being selected 39th overall, simply because the two other quarterbacks had already been taken and Dan was able to wait it out until the later rounds to take his.

But it all comes out to essentially an 8-on-7 battle with the offense having the one-man advantage with the quarterback. Just like on the playground with all-time quarterbacks, right? 

You can listen to how the draft turned out and hear our analysis of each pick on the latest episode of Real Pod Wednesdays. But without further rambling, and knowing that every player on this list is surely going to be thrilled with where they were each drafted, here are our teams. 

Zack’s Team

Offense (overall selection)

QB: C.J. Stroud (1)
RB: Miyan Williams (42)
WR: Jaxon Smith-Njigba (12)
WR: Gee Scott Jr. (19)
TE: Joe Royer (43)
OL: Donovan Jackson (6)
OL: Luke Wypler (7)
OL: Josh Fryar (31)


DL: Ty Hamilton (24)
DL: Darrion Henry-Young (37)
LB: Mitchell Melton (36)
LB/S: Kourt Williams (13)
CB: Andre Turrentine (18)
CB: Jyaire Brown (30)
S: Jantzen Dunn (25)

State your case: When we had finished drafting and I looked at my team, I liked it. Then I started second-guessing my strategy and my overall team, closed my laptop and got busy doing stuff around the house. Then I came back to it, and I realized how much I love my team. 

With C.J. Stroud as my quarterback, I have someone special at the position who’s got the escapability, arm talent, leadership intangibles and calm in the face of chaos that you want in your QB1 – one who can make something out of nothing when all hell breaks loose in the College Football Playoff. I think the margin between Stroud and Kyle McCord is very small, and I think that battle is going to be incredible to watch unfold (especially now that the spring football cancellation wipes out a major upper hand Stroud was going to have over McCord, in terms of having more opportunities to develop). But I’m still higher on Stroud than I am on McCord, even if it’s not by a ton.

I later added two weapons for Stroud to work with, getting my outside receiver (Gee Scott Jr.) and an explosive slot receiver with as high of a ceiling as any receiver in these three classes (Jaxon Smith-Njigba), who can be moved all over the place.

Going backward, I addressed the offensive line with my second and third overall picks. As Andrew Luck with the Colts helped teach us, if you have a quarterback you think is special, the most important goal should be to keep him upright and healthy. Donovan Jackson and Luke Wypler, who I believe are going to be multi-year starters on the interior of the line, will do just that. 

Ohio State showed us how impactful an offensive line can be in 2019 and how important it is with what Ryan Day wants to do offensively. Having athletic, smart and laterally quick guys up front is crucial in this offense, and I just got two guys who match that exact prototype – and then I added a do-it-all slob in Josh Fryar later in the draft who can fill all three spots.

Fryar was my third-favorite value pick, getting him at No. 31 overall. My favorite value pick? Kourt Williams at 13. I think he’s got a shot at becoming an All-American, and he has a chance to be the next Pete Werner. After the season Werner had in 2019 – combined with where he could end up by the conclusion of the 2020 season – that alone had me fist-pumping that he fell to me.

My second-favorite value pick was Jantzen Dunn. I got Williams at No. 13 overall but had him No. 8 on my overall board. I had Dunn at No. 10 on my board and got him at No. 25. The more I watched Dunn’s tape and dug into further analysis of him, the more I bought in. He's fast, incredibly long and his athleticism is off the charts. 

I believe Dunn and Andre Turrentine – No. 9 on my board who I took at No. 18 overall – have a chance to be major difference makers in that secondary. Turrentine could end up filling a Shaun Wade-type of importance as a slot corner/safety who can be used in multiple ways as defenses become more situational. I love the versatility I have all over my defense. 

As for my defensive linemen, they might need some time to develop into impact guys. Luckily, I have the best defensive line developer in the country at the collegiate level in Larry Johnson. 


Colin’s Team


QB: Kyle McCord (2)
RB: TreVeyon Henderson (5)
WR: Julian Fleming (8)
WR: Jayden Ballard (38)
TE: Hudson Wolfe (23)
OL: Ben Christman (14)
OL: Jakob James (32)
OL: Grant Toutant (35)


DL: Tunmise Adeleye (17)
DL: Mike Hall (20)
LB: Reid Carrico (29)
LB/S Hybrid: Jaylen Johnson (41)
CB: Jakailin Johnson (11)
CB: Ryan Watts (26)
S: Cameron Martinez (44)

State your case: I’ll be honest. The moment the draft began, I felt like an NFL general manager who got a little bit too excited about the draft moving to Las Vegas, hit the Strip the night before with a few of my area scouts, got back to my hotel around 7:45 a.m. in a stupor and walked into the lobby to head up to my room, giving an awkward nod to Dan and Zack as they eyed me while passing me to go on their morning jogs. To put it lightly, I was unprepared.

Dan mentioned he had a 35-player big board. Zack had the original idea to do this draft and put the whole dang thing together. I had nothing. No rankings. Nada.

But here’s the best part about the way Ohio State’s recruiting: It’s impossible to put together a bad team. And I didn’t. Miraculously, I legitimately believe I put together the best 15-player group.

It all starts with the offensive playmakers, where I should have a notable advantage.

I’ve got the only five-star quarterback (Kyle McCord), only five-star running back (TreVeyon Henderson), top-rated wide receiver (Julian Fleming) and the top-rated tight end (Hunter Wolfe) on the board. Targeting them early allowed me to wait until the end of the draft to take whichever of the six stud wideouts available didn’t get picked. That left me with Jayden Ballard, a high-end four-star from Massillon. Good luck stopping those five. Up front, I waited a bit on the offensive line, but I like how that turned out with Ben Christman, Jakob James and Grant Toutant. 

Defensively, I landed the two best linemen not named Jack Sawyer: Michael Hall and Tunmise Adeleye (please don’t listen to our podcast to hear me butcher his name again and again). They should sufficiently counter the stellar offensive lines of Dan and Zack. Behind them, I’ve got a future stud in Reid Carrico, who I somehow snagged incredibly late. My strategy there was to wait until either he or Cody Simon went off the board before pouncing, and it worked to perfection. 

Jakailin Johnson gives me the top cornerback available, and I pair him with Ryan Watts to comprise a formidable duo. That's especially important given the wide receivers Dan and Zack snagged. Jaylen Johnson and Cameron Martinez give me ample versatility in the defensive backfield, too.


Dan’s Team


QB: Jack Miller (39)
RB: Evan Pryor (15)
WR: Marvin Harrison Jr. (28)
WR: Mookie Cooper (33)
TE: Sam Hart (34)
OL: Paris Johnson Jr. (4)
OL: Tegra Tshabola (10)
OL: Trey Leroux (40)


DL: Jack Sawyer (3)
DL: Jacolbe Cowan (21)
LB: Cody Simon (27)
LB/S HybridC.J. Hicks (16)
CB: Lejond Cavazos (22)
CB: Devonta Smith (45)
S: Lathan Ransom (9)

State your case: I was ecstatic when Zack and Colin chose to draft Stroud and McCord with the top two picks, as it allowed me – in our snake-draft format – to land both of the top two players on my draft board: Jack Sawyer and Paris Johnson. Sawyer and Johnson, in my opinion, are the two surest things among all of Ohio State's current freshmen and committed recruits, and I expect both of them to become Buckeye stars on their respective sides of the line.

With my third pick, I was also fortunate to land the No. 3 player on my draft board: Lathan Ransom, who I valued so highly because of the importance of his position and the fact that he's the only sure-fire deep safety among the defensive backs eligible for this draft.

Unbeknownst to Zack and Colin, I was prepared to let them draft the first two quarterbacks even if they waited beyond their first picks, as I believe all three of them have the skills to be excellent college quarterbacks, whether at Ohio State or not. I don't believe there is a drastic drop-off in talent between Stroud/McCord and Miller, so I was willing to take whoever was left even though it is the most important position.

For the same reason, I held off until the later rounds to draft wide receivers – given that all six are top-100 prospects – before finally getting to the point that I felt the upside of Harrison and Cooper was too good to pass up in the 10th and 11th rounds.

Highlighted by the highest-rated prospect in the entire draft (Sawyer), the top two offensive tackles (Johnson and Tshabola), the top safety (Ransom) and the top inside linebacker (Simon, who was another steal at the end of the ninth round), I believe I drafted the most complete team to compete on both sides of the ball.


Here’s how the draft went down in chronological order:

Round 1

1. C.J. Stroud
2. Kyle McCord
3. Jack Sawyer

Round 2

4. Paris Johnson Jr.
5. TreVeyon Henderson
6. Donovan Jackson

Round 3

7. Luke Wypler
8. Julian Fleming
9. Lathan Ransom

Round 4

10. Tegra Tshabola
11. Jakailin Johnson
12. Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Round 5

13. Kourt Williams
14. Ben Christman
15. Evan Pryor

Round 6

16. C.J. Hicks
17. Tunmise Adeleye
18. Andre Turrentine

Round 7

19. Gee Scott Jr.
20. Mike Hall
21. Jacolbe Cowan

Round 8

22. Lejond Cavazos
23. Hudson Wolfe
24. Ty Hamilton

Round 9

25. Jantzen Dunn
26. Ryan Watts
27. Cody Simon

Round 10

28. Marvin Harrison Jr.
29. Reid Carrico
30. Jyaire Brown

Round 11

31. Josh Fryar
32. Jakob James
33. Mookie Cooper

Round 12

34. Sam Hart
35. Grant Toutant
36. Mitchell Melton

Round 13

37. Darrion Henry-Young
38. Jayden Ballard
39. Jack Miller

Round 14

40. Trey Leroux
41. Jaylen Johnson
42. Miyan Williams

Round 15

43. Joe Royer
44. Cameron Martinez
45. Devonta Smith

Who drafted the best team? Who would you have taken first overall? What strategies would you have implemented? Cast your vote below, and share your thoughts in the comments:

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