Skull Session: Ohio State Rightfully Crowned “DBU,” Brian Hartline's Absurd Arsenal of Receivers, and Revisiting the 2016 Draft

By Kevin Harrish on July 24, 2019 at 4:59 am
The receivers are ready in today's Skull Session.
Ohio State Athletics

We're long past the Fourth of July, but I hope y'all like loud noises anyway.


Word of the Day: Punctual.

 DBU, BIA, Etc. It's pretty damn clear that Ohio State produces the best defensive back talent in the country (especially if we burn all record of the 2018 season), but thanks to the World Wide Leader, we now have numerical proof!

ESPN put together a formula (which they, of course, do not actually share with the world) which rates every program's success at producing talent at every position.

I know you're just trembling with intrigue, so here is the methodology:

ESPN Stats & Information dug deep into the numbers, culled details on all-conference performers, All-Americans, NFL draft picks and stars from the pro ranks, and came up with a formula to determine the official rankings for the schools best at producing quarterbacks, receivers, tight ends, running backs, linemen, linebackers and defensive backs.

We limited the debate to the BCS and CFP era, including all players who appeared in games from 1998 through last season.

We weighted an All-America nod higher than an All-SEC selection. We had to come up with a metric to determine a player's performance at the next level that would function for all position groups, so we used average Approximate Value over the first four seasons (or fewer, if applicable) in the NFL. We needed a way to account for Notre Dame's lack of conference affiliation, and we used Brian Burke's NFL draft pick values chart to figure out how much more to value a first-round draft pick than a seventh-rounder.

Again, they didn't exactly show their work here, so we're just going to have to just blindly trust that the machine knows.

Here are the rankings the top-secret formula spat out for Ohio State:

  • QBU:  10 
    • Notable players: Craig Krenzel, Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins
  • WRU: 2
    • Notable players: Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., David Boston
  • OLU: 5
    • Notable players: LeCharles Bentley, Nick Mangold, Mike Adams, Jack Mewhort, Taylor Decker, Pat Elflein, Billy Price
  • DBU: 1
    • Notable players: Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward, Eli Apple, Malcolm Jenkins
  • DLU: 6
    • Notable players: Mike Vrabel, Ryan Pickett, Will Smith, Cam Heyward, Johnathan Hankins, Adolphus Washington, Joey Bosa, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Dre'Mont Jones, Nick Bosa, Chase Young
  • LBU: 3
    • Notable players: A.J. Hawk, Andy Katzenmoyer, James Laurinaitis

I find it moderately hilarious that this formula ranks Ohio State in the top-10 at producing quarterbacks (especially when one of the "notable players" listed now plays wide receiver) but not running backs, for some reason.

But hey, at least they got the defensive backs right.

From Edward Aschoff of ESPN:

Since 1998, Ohio State has 26 all-conference seasons by defensive backs (tops in the country) and six All-American seasons, which ranks second behind that of Alabama and LSU (eight). Since the 1998 season, 30 Buckeyes defensive backs have been drafted, among them 12 first-round picks, including three -- Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley -- in 2017.

Also, if Ohio State is already No. 2 in the WRU rankings, boy do I have some news about the future.

 FIRE, RELOAD. Hey, speaking of wide receivers and the future...

One of my favorite college football things is that teams can lose most of their production from an entire position group and still reasonably expect to be good, if not even better, the next season.

It's because that happens. Often. And it's probably going to happen with Ohio State's wide receivers for about the next three years.

From Brad Kelly of The Draft Network:

The scary part about the Buckeyes passing offense is that their wide receiver core may be just as good as last season, and potentially even better. Back again are four wide receivers who, as a group, could become one of the deepest and most talented in the country.

The leader of the pack will likely be K.J. Hill, a redshirt senior who produced 885 yards (second on the team behind Campbell) and 6 touchdowns last season. Along with him is Binjimen Victor, a rising senior with 12 touchdowns on 48 career receptions. Austin Mack has been in the same territory of production as McLaurin, Dixon and Victor over the past two seasons when he’s been healthy. Finally, true sophomore Chris Olave had 178 yards and 3 touchdowns over the final five games of the season last year. 

Between Hill, Victor, Mack and Olave, the Buckeyes are loaded at the position once again, and all but Olave will likely be in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Also, no big deal, but Ohio State just signed its highest-rated receiver prospect ever who did this the first time he put on a Buckeye uniform:

And also, the signed a kid who is basically Ted Ginn Jr., Jr:

So yeah, that's the group that's replacing the three guys currently on NFL rosters. And once this next crop leaves, they'll be replaced by four top-100 freshmen.

That all doesn't really seem all that fair, but you know what, life ain't fair.

 RE-DRAFT. The 2016 NFL Draft was basically just a gigantic Ohio State Football informercial with three Buckeyes among the draft's top-10 picks.

In hindsight though, it could have been even more ridiculous. If we redrafted today, they would probably have three in the top-five, including the top two.

From David Carr of

1. Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Cowboys

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 4 overall 

Zeke has led the NFL in rushing yards in two of his three years in the league (while boasting the highest yards-per-game average in all three). Over 15 games last season, he racked up 1,434 rushing yards -- more than 100 yards clear of the next-best rusher (Saquon Barkley). Elliott is arguably the most valuable non-quarterback in the league, as he dictates coverage and takes a ton of pressure off Dak Prescott. Even with all the attention the Cowboys back receives from opposing defenses, I won't be surprised when he leads the league in rushing yards again this season.

2. Michael Thomas – WR – Saints

Draft slot: Round 2, No. 47 overall 

Thomas has been a reliable target since Day 1 with the Saints, but he finally received nation-wide recognition in 2018 after finishing with career and franchise highs in receptions (125) and receiving yards (1,405). He has a big catch radius, great hands and a good feel in space. Some receivers run routes without knowing where they are in coverage, but Thomas' awareness makes him a huge threat in Sean Payton's offense.

5. Joey Bosa – DE – Chargers

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 3 overall 

Bosa has been better than I expected him to be when he came into the league, piling up 28.5 sacks over his first NFL 35 games. He doesn't have a ton of pass-rush moves, but is relentless in pursuit of the quarterback. Unlike many others, Bosa makes a lot of plays on his second effort because he simply refuses to stay blocked. This is why he's such a force when healthy.

60 percent of the five best players in a draft class sure ain't bad, and the hilarious thing is Bosa could probably be even higher if he could stay healthy.

 HARPER MAKING HISTORY. Buckeyes are generally pretty good at making history, and Linnae Harper is the latest.

The former Ohio State hoopster is part of the first-ever professional women’s 3-on-3 team.

And folks, she can ball.

I've always been fascinated by Harper because for two years she was the team's second-best rebounder despite standing only 5-foot-8, but she can also shoot outside, cross folks up and somehow score with her back to the basket in the post.

She's versatile as hell, scrappy and basically created for 3-on-3 basketball. Honestly, her game reminds me so much of Jae'Sean Tate, I'd love to see him step into the 3-vs-3 world as well.

 SOMEONE IS VERY WRONG. I know quite well that prospect ratings vary wildly from recruiting service to recruiting service, but I've never seen anything like this.

Meet Mitchell Mayes. He's an offensive lineman currently committed to Clemson. And if you're looking to the experts to determine just how good he is, good luck!

Extremely high!
Extremely low

Just a cool 900 spot discrepancy. I mean, some scouts see different things, after all.

I personally haven't the slightest idea how to evaluate a Division I bound offensive line prospect because all of their tapes look the same – a large lad moving smaller lads with extreme ease – but based on that discrepancy, it sounds like one of those services doesn't either.

I just know that someone is extremely, embarrassingly incorrect, but I couldn't tell you who it is.

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