"Ohio State is the first national champion without a first-round pick since Ohio State's 2002 national champs...next year will be a haul. Maybe six first-rounders."
-Doug Lesmerises, Northeast Ohio Media Group
Given how many freshmen and sophomores were responsible for the Buckeyes' run to a title in 2014, it's probably not all that shocking that the defending champs were shut out of the first round of the NFL Draft. That's undoubtedly small consolation to Devin Smith and Michael Bennett, both of whom were discussed as potential first-rounders. Those grades stem from the undeniable talent of both Smith and Bennett, as well as their scheme fits for teams in need of receivers and D-tackles. Our Chris Jason put together a nice summary of when and where guys like Smith and Bennett should go--the receiver, in particular, would have been a great fit for the Baltimore Ravens at No. 26, though they opted to go with UCF's Breshad Perriman instead.
When all was said and done, six receivers went ahead of Smith, including Miami's Phillip Dorsett. Insert Kermit sipping tea here:
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) May 1, 2015
Next year's Ohio State draft crop will be outrageous, as referenced by Lesmerises. Joey Bosa is mostly likely to lead the class, but Ezekiel Elliott could be up there too, especially if preseason Heisman predictions prove prescient and he puts together another world-beating year for the Buckeyes.
"They traded Kenny Stills this offseason, but can more than replace his deep speed with Smith."
-Nate Davis, USA Today Sports
Now that the Ravens have passed on Smith, a potential landing spot for him could be with the New Orleans Saints. Losing Kenny Stills means that Drew Brees and co. are left without a receiving option who can take the top off a defense and beat deep coverage. He could certainly do a lot worse than coming up under one of the best QBs of the last decade and a veteran wideout like Marques Colston. The speed combo of Smith and Brandin Cooks would certainly inspire some fear in the hearts of opposing defenses, too. The Saints shored up some other areas of need in round 1, selecting Stanford OT Andrus Peat and Clemson LB Stephone Anthony, leaving receiver as a position that makes sense for them.
Another possible destination -- one that would surely thrill many Ohio State fans -- is to the Cleveland Browns at pick 43. Cleveland drafts one spot ahead of the Saints, so there could very well be some drama at 43 and 44 surrounding Smith. While many of the Buckeye faithful also support Cleveland and would love to have a receiver like Smith, his mother has a slightly different attitude about her son suiting up for the Browns.
"A power imbalance between divisions has been an issue for the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12, though that has become cyclical."
-Andrea Adelson and Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com
The divisional format that has created our current understanding of college football conferences has come up for debate recently, with pros and cons of creating intra-conference divisions being weighed by coaches and commissioners. This in-depth look from ESPN cites Wake Forest as one school pondering whether or not divisions within the ACC are actually good for the sport. Wake Forest has lost the ability to play games against UNC, a traditional football rival, under the new divisional format. This was problematic enough for both teams to go ahead and schedule one another as out-of-conference opponents in 2019 and 2021, despite the fact that they both play in the ACC.
Still, Wake Forest's experience is perhaps not emblematic of the greater college football picture. The Big Ten is a better test case, having just switched to the divisional format with the addition of Nebraska in 2011. On the whole, it would be hard to argue that aligning as such has been a negative for the Big Ten. The conference championship game has had a massive impact on the national title picture in back-to-back years. There is certainly an imbalance of power at the moment -- the Big Ten East is clearly the superior division as a whole -- but historically, conference power undergoes shifts, and there's certainly potential for a resurgence from the Big Ten West. (The SEC, for example, saw the East division win seven of the first nine conference championship games. The West has now won seven of the last eight.)
It's also in the conferences' best interests to preserve their most important rivalry games, and in the Big Ten, at least, that has held true. When the conference first aligned into "Leaders" and "Legends" divisions, Ohio State and Michigan were on opposite sides. They were still slated to face off at the end of every November, despite that. With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers and a second realignment, that's no longer an issue, but it does provide a good template for how conferences can preserve their premiere showdowns.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Breaking Bad fans, rejoice. "Los Pollos Hermanos" could soon be a real restaurant.
- Important: Road closures for this weekend's Cap City Half Marathon.
- In a move seemingly designed to appease our own Brett Ludwiczak, Ohio is moving towards allowing outdoor drinking zones.
- Cardale Jones stays the Twitter GOAT.
- Cool story about an Ohio woman getting her high school diploma 63 years after missing graduationthanks to a missing gym class half-credit.