Skull Session: Don't Worry About Curtis Samuel's Position, Taylor Decker Thanks Joey Bosa, and Gene Smith Thinks There Are Too Many Bowls

By D.J. Byrnes on February 17, 2017 at 4:59 am
Ohio State defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones dodges trash for the February 17th 2017 Skull Session.

Pictured above: Rising defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones shedding me and my adult son during pass-rush drills.


Word of the day: Pestilential.

 PLAYMAKERS MAKE PLAYS. One of Ohio State's most perplexing draft questions is Curtis Samuel. He could have come back next year, won a national title, and left as a certified Immortal as opposed to Very, Very Good Player. He also could've come back and blown his knee out against UNLV and never been the same player again.

So now it's up to NFL evaluators to find the appropriate role for a guy with "crisp feet" and "tight hips."


At the end of the day, Samuel should be worthy of an early-round draft pick because he was the most-versatile and effective weapon on one of the country’s five-best teams. Ohio State played some pretty great competition this season, but one focal point remained steady on offense regardless of who lined up across the field: get Curtis Samuel the ball.

After all, when the season was on the line against a defense that was loaded with all-conference selections it was Samuel who emerged as the best player on the field.

Samuel will need to add some muscle if he hopes to have a consistent impact running the football. He’ll also need to improve his route running to consistently separate from top-NFL corners. Both of those issues are common for running backs and wide receivers alike, Samuel is just versatile enough that he qualifies for both categories and thus both rounds of criticism. We’ve seen NFL defenses, basketball and even baseball to an extent begin to embrace position-less athletes. Samuel represents the ideal athlete to plug into any system, as once you get him the ball, there really isn’t anything he can’t do.

Only thing lacking from that passage is a 100 emoji. Smart teams will see Samuel for what he can be. Dumb teams will look at what he can't do.

No, I don't think Samuel will be the main piston on a Super Bowl offense. He could be a versatile weapon for an offense creative enough to regularly exploit mismatches. Teams will fall more in love with him during the interview process, too. You win football games with guys like Curtis Samuel.

 DECKER THANKS PAST SPARRING PARTNERS. Khalil Mack, when he was just a Buffalo linebacker nobody had heard of, shredded Taylor Decker, who was making his first start. Nobody would claim it today, but some emotionally fragile fans threw dirt on his career that day.

Thankfully they were wrong about Decker, who left Ohio State as a first-round draft pick and locked down the starting left tackle spot for the Detroit Lions this year. 

Obviously, Decker and his coaches had a lot to do with that. It also helped playing against monsters like John Simon, Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Michael Bennett, Johnathan Hankins, and Adolphus Washington.


"If you've talked to him, I've sure you've heard about it, but it was just battles every day. I owe a lot to him," Bosa told The Detroit News of Decker on the red carpet of the NFL Honors show in Houston the night before the Super Bowl. "Coming to the NFL, having played an NFL-caliber player really helped so much."


"That can't be understated," Decker said at last year's Combine. "Getting to play against a guy like (Bosa) or a guy like Noah Spence for two years and even Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett, Johnathan Hankins or John Simon.

"Joey is an incredible player. He's really complete. He plays the run really well. He's strong. He's quick off the ball. He's good with his hands. He's such a complete player. If you do something wrong, he's going to expose you. He made me a lot better player."

All six of those guys are still in the NFL too, which is an eye-popping stat.

I've also heard repeatedly from people that would know it was Simon, now a Houston Texans linebacker under new defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, who played the alpha role in the psychological toughening of Decker, who arrived in Columbus a little soft around the edges.

 TOO MANY BOWLS IN THE KITCHEN. Gene Smith used to like the BCS because nobody won it like Ohio State. But it switched.

He also agrees with my take: There are too many bowls.


Smith: “I had great apprehension about the CFP. I was a BCS guy. A lot of it was personal. I had the old traditional thought of the value of bowl games being rewards.

“Now, I still feel we have too many bowls. That’s been lost to some degree. From a narrow point of view at Ohio State, they benefit from the BCS. We had more appearances [10] than anybody. I went into the CFP with apprehension. After seeing it, how it worked and seeing how committee set up selection process, I’m a fan now. I think it works.

“I’m concerned about the other bowls. What we do with them and for them?”


“We need to look at the reality of what we are and where we’re going.”

(Also revealed: Smith didn't know Ohio State was headed to the playoffs in 2014 until he saw it on his TV like the rest of us.)

I know there are lunatics out there, who definitely aren't gambling because that's illegal outside of Las Vegas, that claim to watch every bowl game because CFB is only on four and a half months of the year. 

I contend a majority of CFB fans are too busy to spend Wednesday nights sitting in front of a TV watching a three and a half hour contest between two 5-7 teams that everyone will forget in six months.  

If there are enough sadists out there to make it profitable, whatever, this is America. But I'm not that starved for football.

 HEY #TEENS, READ A BOOK. Here's something to keep in mind as to why Ohio State isn't as hot after an in-state prospect as their recruiting rankings should dictate:

Kids will be kids when it comes to school. Hopefully, the adults surrounding them can talk some sense where it's needed. Football can pay some bills. It probably won't make you lifetime rich.

 BROWNS WON'T TAG PRYOR. Cleveland looks content to let Terrelle Pryor hit the open market if they two don't come to terms:

I look forward to Pryor making the Pro Bowl next year as a New England Patriot.

 THOSE WMDs.  The most secure way to communicate? An iPod touch... The brazen attack on Kim Jong Un's half brother... America's television graveyards...Town full of jackasses dismantles man's plane parked in his driveway... Face recognition in Missouri shop checks watch lists.

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