Skull Session: Ohio State's First-Round Picks Will Get Paid, Jim Harbaugh Wants More Kids to Mow Their Lawns and Tom Cousineau Was an Animal

By Chase Brown on May 10, 2023 at 5:00 am
Paris Johnson Jr.
Mark Henle / The Republic

Columbus may have a BOOM problem.

I felt another one on Tuesday. I think former Ole Miss defensive tackle Tywone Malone and his commitment to Ohio State had something to do with it. But that's only a hunch.

 THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY. Ohio State's first-round NFL draft picks in 2023 will be compensated well at the next level – like, really well.

1 Bryce Young Carolina Panthers 4 yrs / $38.8 million $24 million
2 C.J. Stroud Houston Texans 4 yrs / $36.3 million $23.4 million
3 Will Anderson Houston Texans 4 yrs / $35.2 million $22.6 million
4 Anthony Richardson Indianapolis Colts 4 yrs / $34 million $21.7 million
5 Devon Witherspoon Seattle Seahawks 4 yrs / $31.9 million $20.2 million
6 Paris Johnson Jr. Arizona Cardinals 4 yrs / $28 million $17.4 million
7 Tyree Wilson Las Vegas Raiders 4 yrs / $25 million $15.2 million
8 Bijan Robinson Atlanta Falcons 4 yrs / $22 million $13 million
9 Jalen Carter Philadelphia Eagles 4 yrs / $21.8 million $12.9 million
10 Darnell Wright Chicago Bears 4 yrs / $21 million $12.2 million
20 Jaxon Smith-Njigba Seattle Seahawks 4 yrs / $14.4 million $7.5 million

According to Spotrac, C.J. Stroud, Paris Johnson Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are projected to make nearly $80 million combined from their rookie deals, which have value based on a scale codified in the league's CBA and do not include additional compensation like fifth-year options with their respective franchises.

Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick of the Houston Texans, will make the most of the bunch and is expected to ink a four-year deal worth around $36.2 million with a bonus of $23.3 million. Due to the sliding scale mentioned above, Stroud's contract will be worth around $3 million less than the Carolina Panthers' No. 1 overall selection Bryce Young.

Johnson, the No. 6 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals, is expected to sign a four-year, $28 million contract, including a $17 million bonus. In comparison, Smith-Njigba will earn around $14.4 million over four years with a $7.5 million bonus as the No. 20 overall to the Seattle Seahawks.

That's uhhhhhh a lot of money. Yeah, that'll do it. That'll pay the bills.

And like Ohio State offensive assistant Devin Jordan, I see all that money with scarlet-colored glasses through THE Ohio State Buckeyes.

In addition to Stroud, Johnson and JSN, Ohio State's other three draftees have projected contracts via Spotrac, with Zach Harrison slotted at $5.6 million, Dawand Jones at $4.6 million and Luke Wypler at $4 million. 

Ohio State football's media team needs to add all that money, toss it into a graphic for socials with #DevelopedHere as the caption and have Mark Pantoni retweet it to send a message to future recruits: NIL money at lesser programs can be great. But Ohio State is where you make the big bucks.

 JIM HARBAUGH, THE LAWNSMAN. Behind John Goldsmith, who was labeled as "The most interesting man in the world" in the old Dos Equis commercials, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is probably the second-most interesting man in the world. However, interesting may not be the best word. Let's call him corny. Actually, how about a cornball?

In a recent interview with Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated to promote his partnership with Wolverine Boots and SkillsUSA, an organization that markets trade and technical schools nationwide "to ensure America has a skilled workforce," Harbaugh revealed what he would be if he never became a football player or coach.

From Forde's article:

“A lawnsman!” Harbaugh enthusiastically responded. “That’s what I do. Mowing the lawn is one of the great feelings I have in life.”

If a list existed of the richest Americans who still cut their own grass, Harbaugh might be on it. He made $10 million in 2022, according to reports, but says he’s still out there tending to his own yard.

“It accomplishes three things,” Harbaugh said. “I’m clearing my mind or thinking of new plays; I feel good about what I accomplish; and I either make money or I save money.”


The 59-year-old has made one concession to age and time management, buying a riding mower. But he still embraces the job and wants to know why the youth of America aren’t joining him in this noble pursuit.

“It makes me sad sometimes when I drive around Ann Arbor,” Harbaugh said. “It used to be kids mowing the lawns. I was that kid, out mowing lawns, earning some money. Now it’s a truck and a crew at every house.”

As I said, he's a cornball.

This story doesn't quite live up to the outlandish stories about Harbaugh from years prior, like when he claimed he models his life after Spongebob Squarepants or told his players not to eat chicken "because it's a nervous bird." Still, this article and its quotes add to the incredible depth of unexplainable Harbaugh lore, nonetheless. And, honestly, I could read stuff like this all day. The Khaki Man fascinates me.


However, what I can't read all day are articles that Michigan is a better program than Ohio State, so if Ryan Day and his staff could solve the puzzle for defeating their archrival in 2023, that would be much appreciated.

 TOM COUSINEAU WAS AN ANIMAL. Tom Cousineau celebrated his 66th birthday on Saturday, which led me to search for videos of his time at Ohio State on Twitter and YouTube and articles about him from all over the internet.

This video, which comes from the College Football Hall of Fame – a place Couisineau was inducted into in 2016, shows a fraction of what Cousineau did for the Buckeyes.

 JUSTIN FIELDS FOR MVP? NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky made a bold claim on ESPN's Get Up this week when he said former Ohio State quarterback and current Chicago Bears star Justin Fields would be an MVP candidate in 2023.

“Justin Fields is going to be in the MVP conversation this season. The Chicago Bears had the No. 1 pick. They were terrible last year. The only reason that they were actually in games was because of Justin Fields. Justin Fields’ season should look a lot like what Josh Allen’s second season did — that last half. I remember everyone talking about Josh. I think his last 11 games, his second season, he went for 18 touchdowns and three picks. You saw it was starting to take off. That’s what this season should look like, from start to finish, with Justin Fields."

Have an All-American career at Ohio State, watch Trevor Lawrence and – *checks notes* – Zach Wilson – *sighs* – get drafted ahead of you, get picked by the Chicago Bears and have your head coach actively sabotage your rookie season (see: Bears vs. Browns, 2021), rise to stardom in your second season with the most rushing yards for a quarterback since Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson and become an MVP candidate in your third season would be a fantastic career arc for Fields, wouldn't it?

Right now, I'll pump the brakes on the Fields MVP talk. But by all accounts, the Bears have been pleased with Fields' development this offseason. They also expect him to have a great season behind a retooled offensive line and a wide receiver corps that added DJ Moore in the offseason.

At the very least, Fields looks poised to continue developing and improving in 2023. I expect him to, and I can't wait to watch him as he does. The Ohio State quarterback curse will be broken soon enough, and I have a good feeling Fields – and eventually C.J. Stroud – will be the players to make it happen.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Maneater" by Daryl Hall and John Oates.

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