ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock draft on Tuesday, including a second round for good measure. In those 64 picks, he has four Buckeyes (not including Joe Burrow) coming off of the board in the first two rounds.
Ohio State has had 23 players selected in the first two rounds over the last six drafts, including 14 first rounders.
The Buckeyes have had four Top 5 picks in that span — Nick Bosa (2, 2019), Denzel Ward (4, 2018), Joey Bosa (3, 2016), and Ezekiel Elliott (4, 2016).
They are expected to add two more next week in defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah.
The NFL Draft kicks off next Thursday at 8:00 pm, but there is no need to wait because Kiper has already told us below what will be happening in the first two rounds.
Like everyone else, Kiper has Burrow going first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.
After that, it’s a couple of familiar names.
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, DE
Kiper: “Unless Washington trades back to try to add more picks — and it would take a huge haul, as I mentioned in my mailbag last week — I’m sticking with Young, a sensational edge rusher and one of the most NFL-ready defenders I have graded in the past few years. Ron Rivera’s defense has some talent, and now all eyes are on quarterback Dwayne Haskins in Year 2.”
3. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB
Kiper: “After trading away Darius Slay, the Lions brought in Desmond Trufant, but he’s no longer a No. 1 corner. Okudah could be that guy, and he’d instantly help the league’s last-ranked pass defense. Detroit could solicit trade offers to add valuable picks, but Matt Patricia is 9-22-1 in two seasons as coach, so he needs to win now to keep his job. His best bet might be taking the draft’s best cornerback.”
Young will give Ohio State four first-round defensive ends in the NFL next year, as he’ll join the Bosa Brothers and Cameron Heyward.
Okudah will be the eighth first-round cornerback for the Buckeyes since 2004.
Those are the only two Buckeyes in the first round of Kiper’s projection.
Some other interesting selections include the Miami Dolphins taking Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert instead of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Browns, in desperate need of an offensive tackle, are slated to pick OT Mekhi Becton out of Louisville.
Louisville hasn’t had a first round offensive tackle since Bruce Armstrong went 23rd overall to New England in 1987. He ended up being a 14-year starter with seven Pro Bowls, however, so maybe Louisville lightning can strike twice.
Kiper has Miami’s third first-round pick going to Minnesota Gophers safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. The best factoid from Winfield’s writeup?
“The only knock on him is size — he’s just 5-foot-9… The last first-round defensive back under 5-foot-10? That would be Antoine Winfield Sr. 21 years ago, and he had a great career.”
The first running back off the board is Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, who Kiper has going 32nd overall to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The next tailback off the board is Ohio State’s JK Dobbins.
37. Los Angeles Chargers – JK Dobbins, RB
Kiper: “This is a great landing spot for Dobbins, a north-south runner who ran for 2,003 yards last season. With Melvin Gordon gone and Austin Ekeler taking over the lead role, Dobbins can work his way into the rotation and pick up first downs. The Chargers have the talent to make a run at a wild-card spot this season — if they can get consistent quarterback play.”
The last Buckeye running back selected in the second round was Carlos Hyde in 2014. Hyde rushed for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns last year with Houston.
Kiper has Cincinnati selecting Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones with the first pick in the second round.
The Browns are slated to pick up LSU safety Grant Delpit, who was seen as a high first-rounder before last season, but had a down year (while still somehow winning the Thorpe Award).
Kiper has the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting former Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor with the 45th pick.
The 46th pick features the final Buckeye in the first two rounds — cornerback Damon Arnette.
46. Denver Broncos – Damon Arnette, CB
Kiper: “I got Denver a wide receiver in Round 1, so let’s help John Elway’s defense here. Arnette, who played the entire 2019 season with a broken wrist, isn’t as physically gifted as his teammate Jeff Okudah, but he has some potential as a press-man corner. The Broncos get back slot corner Bryce Callahan, who missed all of last season, but they could use someone to make a push for the outside spot opposite newly acquired A.J. Bouye.”
When Arnette gets drafted next week, every Ohio State starting cornerback since 2013 will have been drafted. Jeff Okudah will make it six first rounders. Some project Arnette could make it seven.
Shaun Wade should add to that number next year as well.