In just a couple weeks the 2016 NFL Draft will take place in Chicago, and this year's edition will likely look a lot like the draft that took place 10 years ago. In the 2006 NFL Draft, Ohio State had five players get drafted in the first round. This year's NFL Draft will likely see at least that many Buckeyes get chosen in the first round, if not more.
Much like in 2006 when Ohio State had two players selected in the first eight picks of the draft, this year could see the same thing happen, as Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott are two of the most heralded prospects in this year's draft, with many mock drafts having both of them being taken within the first eight picks. The rest of the first round should see at least Taylor Decker and Darron Lee selected by the time the 20th pick is on the clock. Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, and Michael Thomas also are being talked about as possible first round picks.
With the first round of this year's NFL Draft likely to be dominated by Ohio State players being chosen, we should take a deeper look back at Ohio State's first round draft class from 2006 and see how their NFL careers have panned out since entering the league.
The first Ohio State player taken in the 2006 NFL Draft was A.J. Hawk, who was taken fifth overall by the Green Bay Packers. During his senior year at Ohio State, Hawk not only won the Lombardi Award, but he also was a unanimous first-team All-American selection. Even though Hawk didn't earn quite as many accolades i the NFL, he has still gone on to have a very successful NFL career.
Hawk's performance during his rookie year was good enough to earn him third place in the AP's Defensive Player of the Year voting. During his nine seasons in Green Bay, Hawk registered at least 100 tackles in five seasons. Hawk was also very reliable, starting at least 13 games in all nine seasons with the Packers, and starting 16 games in five seasons.
The crowning achievement for Hawk came during the 2010 season, as the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Hawk was able to add a Super Bowl ring to the National Championship ring he earned while at Ohio State.
Prior to last season, Hawk signed a two-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Last year Hawk appeared in 16 games for Cincinnati, starting 11 of those games, and recording 24 tackles and a sack.
The next Buckeye that was taken in the 2006 NFL Draft was Donte Whitner. While there was no doubt he would be taken rather early in the draft, many were surprised at how high he was taken. The Buffalo Bills decided Whitner was their man, taking him with the eighth overall pick.
The selection of Whitner that early in the draft may have created some unrealistic expectations, but he was still productive in his four years in Buffalo, notching 104 tackles in his rookie season and 140 tackles in 2010. After four seasons in Buffalo, both Whitner and the Bills decided to go their separate ways.
The next stop for Whitner was San Francisco, where the former Buckeye had some of his best seasons as a professional. Not only was Whitner a part of the San Francisco team that made a Super Bowl appearance in 2012, but he was also earned Pro Bowl selections in 2012 and 2013.
Following three seasons in San Francisco, Whitner made a homecoming, signing with the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2014 season. After making 106 tackles in his first year in Cleveland, Whitner earned Pro Bowl honors for the third straight season. Early this month Whitner was released by the Browns, and is currently hoping to latch on with another NFL team.
While the first two members of the Ohio State defense drafted in the 2006 NFL Draft have found some success in the NFL, the same can't be said for the next member taken. Bobby Carpenter was taken with the 18th pick by the Dallas Cowboys. Carpenter didn't make too much of an impact during his time in Dallas over the four seasons he was there, only recording 96 tackles and starting just three games over that time.
In May 2010, Dallas traded Carpenter to St. Louis for offensive lineman Alex Barron. Carpenter was one of the last cuts by the Rams before the 2010 season started. Miami picked up Carpenter two days after he was cut by the Rams, but the former Ohio State linebacker didn't last too long with the Dolphins, getting released after just five games with the team.
Two days after being released by Miami, Detroit signed Carpenter. Not only would Carpenter spend the rest of the 2010 season with the Lions, but he would also spend the 2011 in Detroit. The highlight of Carpenter's NFL career came in 2011 when he recorded a 34-yard interception return against Dallas, which would spark a 24-point comeback by the Lions.
In 2012 Carpenter appeared in four games with the New England Patriots before being released. Currently he is the host of "Carpenter & Rothman" on 97.1 WBNS-FM in Columbus.
A.J. Hawk isn't the only former Buckeye taken in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft to earn a Super Bowl ring. Santonio Holmes was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 25th overall pick. During is first season in Pittsburgh, Holmes ended up catching 49 passes for 824 yards. The performance during his rookie season was good enough to earn Holmes a starting job prior to his second year in Pittsburgh, where he caught 52 passes and eight touchdowns.
The 2008 season is where Holmes really made a name for himself, especially when it counted most. Holmes was named the Super Bowl XLIII MVP after catching nine passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. On the final drive Holmes recorded four of those catches for 73 yards, and what would turn out to be the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds left in regulation.
Holmes followed up his heroic Super Bowl performance with 79 catches for 1,248 yards in 2009, but trouble would soon find Holmes. Prior to being traded to the New York Jets in April 2010, the NFL announced they had suspended Holmes for the first four games of the 2010 season due to a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
Even with the suspension, Holmes still caught 52 passes for 746 during the regular season, and the Jets made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game before being dispatched by Holmes' former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Holmes spent three more seasons in New York, with his best season of those coming in 2011, where he caught 51 passes.
Holmes spent nine games with the Chicago Bears in 2014, but didn't have much of an impact, catching just eight passes before being released. For his NFL career, Holmes caught 389 passes, with 36 of those being touchdown receptions.
While he hasn't yet earned a Super Bowl ring like Hawk and Holmes, the final Ohio State player taken in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft is the one who has earned the most personal accolades. Nick Mangold was taken with the 29th overall selection by the New York Jets.
After starting for three years at Ohio State, Mangold didn't have much trouble transitioning to the NFL, allowing just half a sack in his rookie season. Mangold has earned Pro Bowl honors seven times during his career, and has been selected as a first-team All-Pro in two seasons.
In August 2010, Mangold signed a seven-year contract worth $55 million, with $22.5 million guaranteed, making him the highest paid center in the NFL at the time. Mangold has started all 16 games in seven of his NFL seasons, and has never started less than 14 games during his time with the Jets. Mangold will suit up for the Jets at least for a couple more seasons, as he is signed through the 2017 season.