The 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone. Ten Buckeyes were selected, with three of them being selected in the first round.
Defensive end Chase Young went to Washington with the No. 2 pick, cornerback Jeff Okudah went to Detroit with the No. 3 pick, and cornerback Damon Arnette went to Las Vegas with the No. 19 pick.
It was the fifth year in a row that Ohio State had multiple players taken in the first round. Will that streak continue to six years in a row in 2021? Probably.
Looking at the Buckeyes’ 2020 roster, there are a number of players who seem obvious, but there will also be others who emerge as possible first rounders during the season. This is Ohio State, after all, so first-time starters are also possibilities.
But there are enough returning starters to find five good first-round possibilities.
Let’s take a look.
1. Justin Fields
Quarterback Justin Fields is already being talked about like a possible top-two selection next year with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. (North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is also gaining momentum as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 draft.) This is, of course, assuming Fields will leave early for the NFL millions rather than sticking around Columbus for the endorsement thousands that he could make. With another year under Ryan Day and Corey Dennis, Fields should be approaching can’t-miss status as a future NFLer. He is the perfect quarterback for Ohio State and last year’s numbers showed it.
2. Shaun Wade
If Shaun Wade would have come out this year, he would have been one of a number of cornerbacks vying to be a first rounder. By returning, he will have an opportunity to show what he can do on the outside — not that many have questions. Should there be a 2021 season, Wade is going to be at the top of the list of draft-eligible cornerbacks. To give you an idea of the benefits of being selected higher, even though both Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette were first rounders and separated by just 16 picks, Okudah’s contract is expected to be worth about $20 million more than Arnette’s.
3. Wyatt Davis
Wyatt Davis is already showing up in the first round of a lot of mock drafts and player rankings. Davis was a First-Team All-American last year at right guard for the Buckeyes and should be again this year as a fourth-year junior. Michigan center Cesar Ruiz was the only first-round interior lineman in this year’s draft, but three went in each of the two drafts before that. Davis could have come out after last season as a redshirt sophomore and been taken in the top few rounds. Now he may be the top guard in the nation, which could fetch a high price next April.
4. Chris Olave
From 2017 through 2019, only seven wide receivers were selected in the first round. Then came last week when six receivers were taken in the first round. Chris Olave may not be the biggest receiver at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, but he’s pretty much the exact same size as every first-round receiver in 2020. Alabama first rounders Jerry Jeudy (6-1 192) and Henry Ruggs (6-0 190) could all trade clothes with Olave and be fine. The average size of the six receivers taken in the first round this year is 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds. Olave caught 49 passes for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He’s a good bet to hit 1,000 yards this year if the season allows it. He is also arguably the fastest player on the team, which should make him one of the fastest players in the draft whenever he should decide to come out.
5. Josh Myers
Josh Myers was one of three underclassmen on Ohio State’s offensive line who decided to return this year. He may not have been a first rounder this year, but there is no doubt that another year will get him closer. Billy Price was a first-round pick as a center for the Buckeyes back in 2018, going to Cincinnati with the 21st overall pick. That’s a pretty decent measuring stick for Myers, who will be a Rimington candidate this year. Like most of the guys on this list, he will still have a decision to make. But like Urban Meyer when he had Ryan Day, should Myers choose to leave early, he knows he’ll be leaving the center position in the good hands of Harry Miller.
Bonus: Pete Werner
Pete Werner can play any of the three linebacker spots and also showed his coverage skills last year. He may be playing inside this year, which will get him closer to the football and lead to more tackles. Coaches love him and so will professional organizations.
Bonus: Baron Browning
If Michigan’s Josh Uche can be a second-round pick as a part-time pass rushing linebacker, then it’s not outrageous to think that Baron Browning could do something similar. Browning has moved out of the middle and is going to get some situational pass rushing work, and he’ll have more help around him than Uche did.
Bonus: Thayer Munford
The last first-round offensive tackle for the Buckeyes was Taylor Decker in 2016. He went 16th overall to the Lions and will be making $10 million this year because Detroit picked up his fifth-year option that all first rounders have as part of their contracts. Thayer Munford has proven himself as a very reliable starter at left tackle for the Buckeyes and was named a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection last year. He’ll be a first teamer this year and possibly a first rounder as well.