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Ohio State has a shot at the NFL Draft's first round record

"Not 4...not 5...not 6..."

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

"Ohio State could still make some draft-related history. Miami had a record six players drafted in the first round in 2004, and Ohio State could have that many or more drafted in this year’s first round."

- Zac Jackson, ProFootballTalk

That the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes were absolutely loaded with talent was never in doubt. From top to bottom, Urban Meyer and his staff had stocked the roster with blue chips and less-heralded recruits who broke out as some of the best players in college football. With nine underclassmen declaring for the draft and a host of elite senior talent also departing, could last season's Ohio State team take the crown as the most impressive first-round team in NFL Draft history?

At the moment, Miami's 2004 team holds the title. The Hurricanes saw six players go in the opening round, all the more impressive when you consider some of the league's stalwarts who came out of the same draft. Some notable names who didn't play for Larry Coker who went in the first 32 picks:

  • Eli Manning
  • Philip Rivers
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Steven Jackson
The Hurricanes hardly put flash-in-the-pan players into the league, either. Guys like Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, Vince Wilfork, and Kellen Winslow II heard their names called in the opening round in 2004, meaning any class trying to match the 'Canes in longevity has some big shoes to fill. (The Buckeyes didn't do too shabby in '04, either, sending three players to the league in the first round, and somehow managing to get a punter off the board in the third round years before the Jaguars made it cool by skipping Russell Wilson for Bryan Anger.)

So does Ohio State have a chance to match, or possibly even outdo, that ridiculous Miami draft class? It's certainly not out of the question. (If we're counting anyone who's suited up in the Scarlet and Gray, the odds increase significantly, as Noah Spence has no business falling out of the first 15 picks.) Here's one potential scenario -- call it an academic exercise -- where the Buckeyes at least match the Hurricanes in 2016.
  • The Tennessee Titans decide that their need in the pass rush is greater than in pass protection, and draft Joey Bosa first overall, skipping Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil.
  • The Atlanta Falcons, facing a need to upgrade at outside linebacker at No. 17, pass on Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith due to concerns about his knee issues (most recently on display against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl). Instead, they take a chance on Darron Lee, whose stock has been skyrocketing all season, hoping that his speed and versatility make up for his unusual size.
  • Having played a rotation of mostly cast-off parts at the running back position for several seasons, the Indianapolis Colts overlook their pressing offensive line needs and add the next best thing with the 18th pick: Ezekiel Elliott, who can both run roughshod over opponents and chip just about anyone in pass protection.
  • It's a long shot, but Michael Thomas has first round talent, and behind DeSean Jackson, the Washington Football Team doesn't have a whole lot to like at WR. They could surprise everyone by pulling the trigger on Thomas at No. 21 and trying to add another weapon to Kirk Cousins' arsenal moving forward.
  • I'm in agreement with's Chris Burke here: if OT Taylor Decker is still on the board at 23, the Minnesota Vikings need to grab him, or their franchise QB is going to spend most of next year running for his life. If they don't, Carolina -- you may remember their OL getting mauled a few days ago in the Super Bowl -- would be a good fit here. Decker would also reunite with Buckeye teammate Andrew Norwell, which would be a fun pair to watch again.
  • Burke likes the Seahawks to grab Eli Apple at No. 26, and he does seem to be the prototype for Pete Carroll's defense. He might not even still be available there. The Buckeyes could have their sixth player of the opening round taken by the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 24. Adam Jones is about a million years old, and Marvin Lewis' team needs to add depth for the future -- Darqueze Dennard and Josh Shaw are there, but there are no guarantees.
Other possible Ohio State first-rounders include LB Joshua Perry, S Vonn Bell, and if you really want to get crazy, Braxton Miller. Those guys (and probably Thomas) aren't likely to crack the first 31 picks, but most NFL GMs are hardly known for their even keels or astute evaluations. Stay tuned.