Ohio State's 2020 Draft Class Signs More Than $100 Million in Rookie Contracts, Chase Young and Jeff Okudah Already Among NFL's Highest-Paid Players at Their Positions

By Dan Hope on July 27, 2020 at 8:45 am
Chase Young and Jeff Okudah
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports

Before any of them have even played a game for their new teams, Ohio State’s newest class of NFL rookies have already signed contracts worth more than $100 million combined.

Ohio State’s first seven selections in the 2020 NFL draft – first-round picks Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette, second-round pick J.K. Dobbins and third-round picks DaVon Hamilton, Jonah Jackson and Malik Harrison – have now all officially signed their initial four-year contracts with the teams that drafted them, and those seven contracts themselves combine to hit the nine-figure mark.

Add in seventh-round pick K.J. Hill, who signed his contract with the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, plus the projected contracts (via Spotrac) of sixth-round pick Jordan Fuller and seventh-round pick Jashon Cornell – who haven’t yet officially put pen to paper, but are expected to do so any day now before their teams start training camp this week – and Ohio State’s 10 draft picks are set to top the $110 million mark with their first NFL contracts.

Ohio State's 2020 Draft Pick Contracts
Player Round/Pick Total Contract Value Signing Bonus
CHASE YOUNG ROUND 1, PICK 2 $34,563,594 $22,697,160
JEFF OKUDAH ROUND 1, PICK 3 $33,528,544 $21,944,396
DAMON ARNETTE ROUND 1, PICK 19 $13,418,540 $7,318,940
J.K. DOBBINS ROUND 2, PICK 55 $5,729,436 $1,726,862
DAVON HAMILTON ROUND 3, PICK 73 $4,820,516 $1,065,832
JONAH JACKSON ROUND 3, PICK 75 $4,796,768 $1,048,560
MALIK HARRISON ROUND 3, PICK 98 $4,499,405 $832,296
JORDAN FULLER ROUND 6, PICK 199 $3,465,710* $170,710*
K.J. HILL ROUND 7, PICK 220 $3,399,828 $104,828
JASHON CORNELL ROUND 7, PICK 235 $3,379,530* $84,530*
TOTAL $111,601,871 $56,994,114
*Projected values for unsigned contracts

That puts the total contract value of Ohio State’s 2020 NFL draft class just a hair ahead of its legendary 12-man 2016 NFL draft class – the initial contracts signed by Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Eli Apple, Taylor Decker, Darron Lee, Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, Adolphus Washington, Braxton Miller, Nick Vannett, Joshua Perry and Cardale Jones also totaled over $111 million – for the highest-paid draft class in school history.

LSU, with a record-tying 14 picks in this year’s NFL draft including No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, is set to top both Ohio State classes with over $127 million in total contract value (Burrow’s contract hasn’t yet been signed, but it comes with a projected value of over $36 million based on the NFL’s draft pick wage scale). Alabama’s 2020 class of nine NFL draft picks, including four first-round picks, is also set to top the $111 million mark – with slight variations possible from the projected contract values for the two unsigned players in each college’s classes, it appears the Crimson Tide's 2020 class will come in with a total value just slightly behind Ohio State's 2020 class and just ahead of the Buckeyes' 2016 class.

Thanks in part to salary cap increases, the 2020 draft classes of LSU, Ohio State and Alabama rank as the highest-paid draft classes from any school since 2011, when the NFL instituted a rookie wage scale limiting each draft pick’s initial contract to four years and to a maximum contract value based on where they were selected.

Highest-Paid NFL Draft Classes by College Since 2011
School Year Total Contract Value
LSU 2020 $127,267,888*
OHIO STATE 2020 $111,601,871*
ALABAMA 2020 $111,445,870*
OHIO STATE 2016 $111,300,001
ALABAMA 2019 $85,993,807
ALABAMA 2018 $75,942,091
CLEMSON 2019 $73,392,886
OHIO STATE 2019 $72,334,200
ALABAMA 2017 $70,327,822
OKLAHOMA 2019 $69,868,976
FLORIDA STATE 2015 $66,689,313
*Includes projected values for unsigned draft picks

Even with the draft pick wage scale, Young and Okudah – as the second and third overall picks in this year’s draft – are both already among the NFL’s highest-paid players at their positions. Young’s four-year, $34.5 million contract with Washington gives him the 15th-highest total contract value among NFL defensive ends, while his $22.7 million signing bonus is the third-highest among defensive ends’ current contracts. Okudah’s four-year, $33.5 million contract carries the 13th-highest total contract value among NFL cornerbacks, and his $21.9 million signing bonus is the league’s highest among all players at his position.

Young, Okudah and Arnette’s contracts are all fully guaranteed, and as first-round picks, their contracts also come with a fifth-year option that would pay Young or Okudah (as top-10 picks) the average of the league’s top 10 players at their positions in 2024 and Arnette (as a non-top-10 pick) the average of the league’s third through 25th highest-paid players.

The lower-round draft picks’ contracts are not guaranteed beyond their signing bonuses, so they’ll need to be more cautious about making any big purchases as NFL rookies. Each of the 10 Ohio State draftees would be in line to make well over $3 million over the next four years, though, if they remain on NFL rosters.

As for Ohio State’s five undrafted free agents who signed with NFL teams – Rashod Berry (Patriots), Branden Bowen (Panthers), Austin Mack (Giants), Liam McCullough (Raiders) and Binjimen Victor (Giants) – all of them are set to make slightly over $610,000 if they make their teams’ 2020 rosters and just under $2.3 million if they remain in the league for the next three years, at which point they would become restricted free agents going into their fourth NFL seasons.

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