Buckeyes Denzel Ward and Billy Price were selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday, which has me wondering how many Ohio State football players could hear their names called in the first round of next year’s draft.
The Buckeyes have had a first-round draft pick in each of the last three drafts, and at this point it would be a colossal upset if that streak didn’t continue into 2019.
So who are the likeliest candidates? You probably already have a pretty good idea of the guy at the top of the list.
1. Nick Bosa, Defensive End
You can already find Nick Bosa’s name at or near the top of 2019 mock drafts. He hasn’t come out and said this is his final year, but it’s not like he needs to. Barring an injury, this will be his final season at Ohio State and this time next year he’ll likely be a Top 5 pick. The teams still kicking themselves for not selecting his brother Joey can now make a play for Nick. Maybe the reason the Browns didn’t go with a Bradley Chubb this year is because they know they’re going to land Nick Bosa next year.
2. Dre’Mont Jones, Defensive Tackle
Part of the reason Dre’Mont Jones returned for his fourth season is because he wanted to improve his NFL draft stock. Seen as possibly a late first-rounder this year, Jones will showcase his entire toolbox in 2018. The expectations are that once the rest of the nation sees what those inside the walls of the Woody already know, then Jones’ stock will take a turn for the much better. Jones told me this past winter that he is preparing for this to be his final season at Ohio State, so expect to see the kind of performance you normally see in a contract year.
3. Kendall Sheffield
The lineage is proven, so somebody has to take up the mantle this year and be a first-round draft pick at cornerback for the Buckeyes. The guy that makes the most sense here is Kendall Sheffield. Sheffield will destroy the NFL Combine, but before he gets there, he’ll need to destroy a few wide receivers along the way. Last year was his first as a starter in major college football. The jump from year one as a starter to year two can be significant, and Sheffield is planning on showcasing that jump this season.
4. Dwayne Haskins/Joe Burrow
If one of these guys is good enough to beat the other one out, it’s not crazy to think that they’re probably pretty good. I have previously suggested on Accost the Field that Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins should engage in a blood oath stating that whoever wins the job would leave for the NFL after this season, thereby allowing the next guy to start for one season before doing the same. I don’t know if they’ll actually go through with that, but there’s no good reason not to, other than hygiene, I suppose.
5. Parris Campbell
Parris Campbell is going to light up the NFL Combine like a flamethrower pointed at a Christmas tree in Times Square. He knows his shortcomings and worked in the offseason to make them longcomings. If he proves that he can be a consistent receiver this season — including as a deep threat — then Campbell will be an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. And this isn’t just me throwing him out there because I need a fifth guy. You can find Campbell’s name on mock drafts, and I’ll bet he shows this season why.
Bonus: Isaiah Prince
A three-year starter on the offensive line, Isaiah Prince has ideal size and impressive athleticism. If Mike Adams can be a second-round pick, it’s not a stretch to think that Price can be a first rounder. If he doesn’t get to play left tackle this season, however, I wonder how that will affect his draft stock.
Bonus: Damon Arnette
The last Ohio State starting cornerback not to be drafted in the first round was Doran Grant. If we were to just look at this statistically, the numbers say that Damon Arnette is more likely to be a first rounder than not. To get there, however, he will need to become a more consistent all-around defender. His coaches are confident he can get there.
Bonus: Jordan Fuller
Jordan Fuller played very well as a deep safety last season, and this year he will show his ability to cover slot receivers in close quarters. If he proves equally adept at that aspect of the game, then he’ll have enough on tape to show NFL teams that he can do whatever you want him to. There may be questions about his range and top-end speed, but he was never anything but a strength for the Buckeyes last year.