Football

Final Hurdle for Urban Meyer? OSU Quarterbacks and the NFL Draft

Urban Meyer Ohio State Football

There isn’t much that Urban Meyer has yet to accomplish as the head coach of the Ohio State football program.

The trophy case contains a Big Ten Championship and a National Championship. It technically even contains five Division Championship trophies.

Meyer is 61-6 as the head coach at Ohio State. That includes a ridiculous 38-2 record in the Big Ten regular season. Perhaps more important than any other footnote mentioned already, his teams are a perfect 5-0 against Michigan.

The NFL has also benefited from having Meyer at OSU. Thirty-three Buckeyes have been drafted over the last five years. If you look at Ohio State’s recruiting materials over that span, the NFL Draft has become a major topic in their sales pitch. No, it’s not the only topic — not even in the slightest — but it is sold, and why shouldn’t it be?

In the last two drafts alone, the Buckeyes have produced 19 picks and eight first-round selections. That’s the kind of sales pitch that can get a kid’s attention.

In Meyer’s time at Ohio State, OSU has produced a first-round pick at every position except for quarterback, tight end, and wide receiver. Tight ends going in the first round is relatively rare. The Buckeyes have only ever had one — Rickey Dudley, and that was back in 1996. Ohio State has produced a pair of third rounders under Urban Meyer in Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett. Both players were recruited by Jim Tressel, but the Buckeyes went 11 years without having a tight end drafted before Heuerman was selected in 2015.

Michael Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He caught 92 passes for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a rookie. So no, Ohio State hasn’t yet produced a first-round wide receiver under Urban Meyer, but that’s not Meyer’s fault, that’s the NFL’s fault for being too stupid to draft Thomas inside the first 32 picks.

The one final hurdle for Urban Meyer at OSU is quarterback production at the NFL level. This may seem like a superficial hurdle — and based on the Buckeyes’ record since 2012, it is — but if Ohio State is going to continue to sell the NFL, the production should follow.

I know what you’re saying — Meyer’s offense doesn’t lend itself to producing NFL quarterbacks. I also remember when people used to say that Meyer’s offense couldn’t produce 1,000-yard rushers.

How are Ezekiel Elliott and Carlos Hyde doing these days?

The NFL is changing and more room is being made for quarterbacks who ran the ball a bit in college.

But look at the picture above. Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, Kenny Guiton, and Braxton Miller — The Four Horsemen of the Buckopalypse. They will live on forever in Buckeye lore, but will they add on to that legacy moving forward? Guiton and Miller’s quarterbacking days are over, but Jones and Barrett still have an opportunity to set a foundation.

You’re not alone in wondering about Ohio State’s ability to produce NFL quarterbacks, because the schools that the Buckeyes are recruiting against are wondering the very same things. And they wonder them out loud as they are talking to quarterback recruits who might be thinking about Ohio State.

Urban Meyer can point to Cardale Jones, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft as proof that the Buckeyes are on the right track. That might be true, but how long will OSU have to wait for proof? And how many quarterback prospects will pass on them in the meantime?

And is Cardale Jones even really proof? To term what he did to cap the 2014 season as “catching lightning in a bottle” sells it woefully short. In fact, the saying “catching lightning in a bottle” should probably be retired in favor of “catching Cardale in the pocket.”

“Yeah, we really caught Cardale in the pocket with that idea about self-tying water balloons.”

That whole situation was so unbelievable that to point to it as the beginning of a trend takes away from the amazing story that it was.

Of course, this whole discussion might simply be a solution without a problem.

Ohio State is recruiting better than it ever has at quarterback. Every year another blue-chip prospect comes in with his eyes on leading this offense. Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins, Tate Martell, and current commit Emory Jones could have gone many different places, but they chose Ohio State. They all want to play in the NFL and none of them thought that Urban Meyer’s offense would keep them from doing that.

Still, if your recruiting materials are going to be dotted with mentions of the NFL, you can’t have any boxes left unchecked. Right now, this is Meyer’s final box.

To be fair, however, this is something that pre-dates Meyer by decades and decades. Ohio State has never been great — or even good — at producing quarterbacks for the NFL. They have only had nine quarterbacks drafted ever. Art Schlichter is the lone first rounder, and that happened 35 years ago. There have been no second-round picks.

This final hurdle wouldn’t be just for Urban Meyer, it would a final hurdle for Ohio State football as well.

It may be superficial, and it is certainly not something that would fit into a trophy case, but it’s basically the only area where negative recruiting can still hit home.

The NFL Draft isn’t the be-all, end-all for Ohio State, but for some quarterbacks it is. Once OSU becomes a place for those players as well, who knows what this program can accomplish.

8 Responses

  1. I’m not sure they should bring up Cardale James. He never lost a game, he has a job in the NFL, but he was benched at Ohio State, and didn’t get into the game against Michigan State while Barrett was playing the worst game of his career, and was certainly bench worthy. So what’s the line going to be. “You may be good enough for the NFL but you won’t get to play at Ohio State even if you win every game you start including a national championship. That’s not exactly the recruiting pitch I’d want to hear.

  2. Although having success as a college quarterback does not necessarily translate into success at the NFL level, recent history suggests that a team does need an NFL caliber quarterback in order to win the National Championship. Going back to 2012, Urban’s first year at tOSU, the quarterbacks of the National Champions are:
    1) AJ McCarron – 3 year backup in Cincy 2) Jameis Winston – has thrown for more than 8,000 yards in 2 NFL seasons. 3) Cardale Jones – backup in Buffalo 4) Jake Coker – signed as an UFA with AZ, but retired after a knee injury. 5) DeShaun Watson – NFL 1st rounder.
    Although I love JTB and everything he has accomplished for our great school; I do worry that his “prolonged” helming of the Scarlet & Gray is “bottleknecking” our QB pipeline. In my estimation, this should have been Joe Burrow’s year, and then Dwayne Haskins’s year thereafter, and Emory’s the following (and I haven’t even mentioned Tate Martell).
    I don’t think tOSU’s QB room has EVER been this loaded, and Buckeye Nation is watching with baited breath to see how Urban handles this situation in the coming years.

  3. We’re not going to reach this goal with JTB either, but that’s not really a bad thing. The college game today does not favor NFL-style QB’s. If I had to choose I’d rather have someone who can get us a shot at a national championship. However, both would be nice and I see that coming soon.

    1. Yep. How many rings does Michigan get for watching Tom Brady in the Super Bowl?

  4. This was worth reading just for “The four horsemen of the Buckopalypse.”

  5. Gotta disagree with you, Gerd. TE does matter and there are a few positions where it’s tough-to-impossible to get a 1st-rounder. Kicker and punter come to mind. 😉 But if anyone can get a TE drafted in the 1st round it’s gonna be Kevin Wilson.
    As for wideouts – as you know, recrui—drafting isn’t an exact science, there being “booms and busts” every year at every position. Until Zach Smith shows he can actually DEVELOP a player this is gonna be a problem as he’s had TONS of talent over the years and nary an all-pro to show for it.
    And yeah, it’s heartbreaking that PURDUE has a far better rep for developing QBs than tOSU does. They’re even the SEC’s farm club for QB development now!

  6. I get that moving players into the NFL makes recruiting easier but what we all ( the OSU faithful ) want is a successful Buckeye season with a National Title at the end of the year ( with, of course, TTUN lying in ruins and whining incessantly after the last game of the season ). That’s what Urban is paid the big bucks for, correct? If that produces future NFL players, great. But the goal is National Titles, period.

    1. Agree that the goal it national titles,not NFL players, but the means to the end is great players. If you want a pipeline of great quarterbacks you have to dangle NFL possibilities in front recruits.

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