Mundane NFL Draft Class by Ohio State Standards A Sign of Team's Returning Talent

By Andy Anders on April 25, 2024 at 12:11 pm
Jack Sawyer

Purely from an Ohio State perspective, the 2024 NFL draft will be a mundane one.

Marvin Harrison Jr. will likely be drafted among the first five selections, and it's possible Mike Hall, Cade Stover or Tommy Eichenberg will be picked up by a team on Day 2. Six to nine Buckeyes will be drafted in total – nothing special by OSU standards.

As little as four months ago, it wasn’t projected that way.

Truth is, going into 2023, this was expected to be one of the more loaded draft classes, at least in terms of volume, from Columbus in a long time. That’s the natural progression of a recruiting class like the one the Buckeyes signed in 2021. It was the No. 2 class in the country with a composite score of 321.78 points in the 247Sports composite team rankings. It stands as the highest mark of the Ryan Day era and one that would have set the record for the highest team score of all time had Alabama not bested Ohio State with 327.8 points in the same cycle.

But so many core pieces from that class are back for their senior seasons at Ohio State in 2024, not because they don’t have an NFL draft stock – though some are looking to improve it – but because they want to chase unachieved goals at the collegiate level.

“It’s not about talking them into it, it’s about a bunch of guys deciding that they wanted to reach their goals this year at a high level together as a group and have a common purpose,” Ryan Day told Josh Pate of CBS Sports on Wednesday.

There are nine players on Ohio State’s roster for 2024 who would have at least been in the conversation to hear their names called this Thursday or Friday in the first three rounds of the draft. Those are TreVeyon Henderson, Emeka Egbuka, Donovan Jackson, JT Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Tyleik Williams, Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock and Lathan Ransom. Linebacker Cody Simon and defensive tackle Ty Hamilton were also candidates to be selected at some point if they had gone pro this year.

With six to nine Buckeyes hopeful to be drafted this weekend, including Steele Chambers, Josh Proctor, Matt Jones, Xavier Johnson and Miyan Williams, along with Harrison, Hall, Stover and Eichenberg, tack on the 11 listed above and suddenly 18 or even 20 draftees was a possibility.

The Ohio State record for players taken in an NFL draft is 14, set in 2004. The record for most players drafted from a single school in a single draft is 15, set by Georgia two years ago.

Breaking that record this draft was well within the realm of possibility. But the Buckeyes won’t come close because so many players chose to return. In the end, six to nine draftees is pretty typical of Ohio State, as the Buckeyes have seen between six and 10 players selected in each of its five previous years under Day.

“The great news is we had some really talented guys that had an opportunity to get drafted early,” Day said. “The tough part with some of those is (that) young guys have an opportunity to go to the NFL, which is great for them but not great for the veteran presence in our locker room. Well, this year is a little bit different because a lot of these guys decided they wanted to come back together.”

Day reiterated on Wednesday that Sawyer is toward the top of the list of those to thank for bringing such a holistic collection of his 2021 classmates back for one last hoorah. Sawyer’s reasoning for his own return rings true for many who joined him.

“I think I wouldn’t have felt right leaving, losing to them three times,” Sawyer said on March 7. “With the team that we’ve got coming back, with the guys that decided to come back, I wanted to take charge and say, ‘Look, if we all come back, look at what we could do.’ Once I thought about that and I got some other guys on board, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

The operative “them” is Michigan. For all the talent contained within Sawyer’s senior group, they’ve never beaten their most hated rival to the North.

Calls of natty or bust have rung out from the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in interviews given this spring, but the bitter taste left by another loss to the Wolverines and an abhorrent Cotton Bowl performance – at least on the offensive side of the football – led to the situation as it sits today.

Ohio State will undoubtedly have a draft class more loaded than a Tommy gun with a 100-round magazine in 2025. But for now, Buckeye fans can rest easy knowing that the next three days will be relatively boring in the hope of an exciting fall.

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