Skull Session: Three Potential Buckeye First-Rounders, Finding a Center, and Michael Thomas' Unprecedented Season

By D.J. Byrnes on January 5, 2018 at 4:59 am
J.K. Dobbins dives on the January 5th 2018 Skull Session

Yesterday was wild. The hiring of the a co-defensive coordinator was like the 5th most interesting thing to happen.


Word of the Day: Fabulist.

 MOCK DRAFT SZN? I know I'm getting older because football seasons go by in three blinks now. Weren't we just discussing our hopes that Urban Meyer would give Kevin Wilson enough creative control to save the offense? Weren't we just discussing the impact of Ryan Day on J.T. Barrett?

And now, seemingly a week later, we are into "mock draft season." Mock drafts are a thing everybody claims they don't care about yet everybody clicks.

Here is the first one of 2018 that I encountered. It features three Buckeyes going in the late in the first round.


26. Rams — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: Although lacking the elite ball skills and closing speed of former Buckeyes teammate Marshon Lattimore, Ward is a standout cover corner who should be the fourth Ohio State product at his position to be taken in the first round since 2016. Los Angeles' interest could intensify if Trumaine Johnson departs after being franchise-tagged the last two years.


31. Patriots — Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State: There's no such thing as too many pass rushers in New England, which has several young options but no standouts. The Urban Meyer pipeline could continue with Hubbard, a well-rounded (albeit unflashy) defender.

32. Vikings — Billy Price, C-G, Ohio State: One year after finding a steal in third-round center Pat Elflein, Minnesota could look to Columbus, Ohio, again to further bolster its interior line. Price won the Rimington Trophy as the country's best center but has the versatility to thrive at guard as well.

Buckeyes going near the top of the draft always garners the big headlines. I prefer seeing Buckeyes land in the bottom half of the draft. Sure, it costs a few million dollars (not my money!), but you almost can't put a price on landing with a stable franchise.

Wait until Patriots fans find out Sam Hubbard used to be committed to Notre Dame lacrosse. They may kidnap Bill Belichick and make the pick themselves.

 REPLACING A LEGEND. When Pat Elflein left for the draft, Billy Price moving to center eased all concerns about replacing him. Price may not repeat as a Rimington Trophy winner (he did), but that position could be written off as "solidified" at the least.

With Price gone, the answer isn't as obvious despite Brady Taylor being the leader in the club house.


So, who is up for the challenge of taking the torch handed down from Pat Elflein to Billy Price? If nothing else, Ohio State isn’t short on candidates, including a few who were among the most coveted recruits in the country. And heading into spring practice, it appears that Brady Taylor will be at the top of the list when the battle begins.

Price has already given his seal of approval to Taylor sliding into that spot, and the rising senior will have the advantage of four years of physical development in the program and intimate knowledge of Ohio State’s system. But that won’t guarantee anything considering how heated the competition could get with Matthew Burrell potentially sliding over from guard, or somebody like Jack Wohlabaugh rising up and making a push. Maybe it could even be a place for former 5-star recruit Wyatt Davis to find a home and contribute next season.

Well, we know it won't be Wohlabaugh, as he transferred to Duke yesterday. Wyatt Davis and Matthew Burrell trying their hand at snapper seem likely. 

Ohio State should be alright choosing among those three. It's definitely a massive question, though, that may not be answered until November. 

 BEER WE GO, SAINTS. Four years ago next month, I prophesied Mike Thomas would be the next star receiver at Ohio State. The dedication to his craft has made me look like I know what I'm talking about, which makes me forever indebted.

He also made me look smart when I drafted him as a rookie in the City of Kings Computer Football League (the NFL of computer football leagues). His two seasons are unprecedented.

From The Ringer:

What Thomas has done so far in his two-year career is unprecedented. Not only did he become the first Saints receiver to eclipse the 100-catch benchmark in a season—no small achievement considering Brees has led the NFL in pass attempts four times but was just ninth this year—he set the new mark for most catches (196) of any player in his first two years in the league, moving past Miami’s Jarvis Landry. Thomas’s six-catch, 94-yard performance Sunday also pushed him into a tie with Anquan Boldinfor most consecutive games with three-plus catches to start a career since 1970.

Thomas accomplished all that with a blend of size, speed, physicality, and body control—oh, and vise grips for hands. A few of those attributes were on full display in the first quarter last week when he tracked down a deep throw from Brees. After making two sharp cuts, Thomas got open on a route toward the sideline and turned his head to the right to look back and find the ball. Except Brees had led him toward the middle of the field, so like a seasoned centerfielder, the 6-foot-3, 212-pound pass catcher smoothly turned his head to the other side, found the ball in the air, and dove as he secured it over his shoulder, Willie Mays–style, holding onto it as he hit the ground.

If Thomas balls like that next season, he'll finally be recognized for what he is, which is a top five receiver in the league. I just hope he lands with another talented QB when Drew Brees retires. As Josh Gordon can attest, the game gets harder when your quarterback can't throw a reliable ball.

 THAT'S BAD ASS, ACTUALLY. Strength coaches walk around ready to commit a felony 24/7. They're not criminals. That's just their mentality, which I respect.

Here's Alabama's guru, presumably motivating his team to first place by destroying last year's second-place trophy: 

That motivated me to perform today, and I didn't even finish second place last year. (I finished, like, 63rd. But I'll do better this year.)

 LANDERS HELPS A FELLOW 937ER. Want to feel old? Robert Landers is now giving life advice using the Iowa loss in a parable to his little brother.

We died in an Iowa cornfield so B.B. Landers' little brother could prosper against St. Bonaventure. I'm no longer upset about the loss to Iowa. Go Flyers.

 THOSE WMDs. Deadly world of private garbage collection... Greece's old golds are ready for sacrifice... A guide to layering... Biggest law enforcement scandal in Massachusetts history... Big money in drug testing; inside the pursuit of liquid gold... Alvin Kamara in New Orleans.

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