Ohio State football set several records during the 2016 NFL Draft, and now with a few months worth of rookie mini-camps and offseason workouts behind them, fans have a better insight into the type of contributions they can expect from the Buckeye first-years.
With 12 players drafted — five in the first round -- and three others signed as UDFAs, there are 15 Buckeyes in total hoping to make their NFL debut this fall. Whether or not they’ll have spots on the final 53-man roster come August is anyone’s guess, but how they’ve prepared and worked this offseason could be a big indication of their potential as a professional ball player.
Here is a look at how the first rounders out of Ohio State are faring since draft day.
Bosa participated early in the offseason program and rookie minicamps before contract negotiations took over -- in the first of many instances that will show the rookie that professional football can be dictated by things happening off the field. Due to the stalemate, he is one of few rookies yet to sign a deal — worth over $20 million -- due to language about salary guarantees, and has since held out from attending Chargers mini-camp.
John Spanos, president of football ops for the Chargers, commented on the missing rookie, "Was it disappointing to have 89 players instead of 90 in for camp? Sure. But these things tend to work themselves out and the good thing was, when Joey Bosa was here he looks great."
The Cowboys are saved!
At least that’s what the team would lead you to believe given their continuous praise of their No. 4 overall pick. The former Ohio State running back will likely take on the load of the run game from the onset of the 2016 season; teammate and fellow running back Darren McFadden suffered an elbow injury -- falling on it while trying to save his cell phone on Memorial Day weekend -- which will result in the rookie seeing more touches than even first expected.
Elliott is already keeping the Cowboys defenders on their toes, and is quickly being looked at as a contender for Rookie of the Year. He is easily the best rookie in Dallas, and is expected to be a big contributor for the team this fall. He’s done everything right since the first round of the draft, and if he continues could be just as dynamic in the NFL as he was at Ohio State — which is scary for everyone not named the Cowboys.
The Buckeye wasn’t the only one who got drafted to the Pros; Apple’s mom Annie signed a deal with ESPN as a contributor this fall after her Twitter persona and red-carpet interview went viral. The opposite of distraction, Eli playing in New York lets him spend the weekends and off days with his family — which keeps him grounded and focused when he needs it most.
The cornerback is likely to play on the inside in 2016 for the Giants. With two veterans on the outside, Apple is working on learning a new role, one that requires him to be more vocal than before, but one he is excited to embrace.
Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been yelling at the rookie about grabbing and tugging — a problem the young player had in college, often drawing penalties as a result -- but was still impressed with the rookies desire to compete.
Eli Apple vs. Odell Beckham. ... pic.twitter.com/Cwgoy46b1v— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) June 15, 2016
Apple is getting some of the best practice he can going against Odell Beckham Jr. in practice. If the saying “iron sharpens iron” than Apple could wind up being one of the most successful secondary players over the next few seasons.
Another Buckeye whose Mom is making the move from college -- Lee’s mother Candace resigned from her TV career in Columbus to focus on managing her son’s professional career.
Lee — like Bosa — has yet to sign his rookie deal, but he didn’t let the business side of things keep him from attending the offseason program for the Jets. Even with a strong preseason showing, he might not have a great shot of breaking the starting lineup, but that hasn’t affected his effort at all — the rookie even got caught up in the moment and made a tackle during a no-contact practice.
No hard feelings for the overzealous linebacker, who is well on his way to being groomed for a starting role. Lee is expected to be the No. 2 behind veteran Erin Henderson at the left inside position. Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles believes nothing beats experience, so despite the endless talent from the former Ohio State player, he’ll need some game time under his belt before the team hands him the reigns as starter.
Lee has been asked about size going all the way back to the NFL Combine, but he maintains his steadfastness that he anticipates no issues going against bigger guys in the NFL, having faced some pretty big players during his time at Ohio State.
Decker is expected to play right away for Detroit — a team that has proven unable to protect their quarterback over the past few seasons. The former Ohio State player is looking at a starting role at left tackle, but critics are waiting to see what he does in pads before handing him the keys to the offensive line. The tackle should have an easier adjustment to the NFL if the Lions keep him on the left side, given that’s where he played his last two seasons in Columbus.
“I think I have made progress and there are things that I’ve learned well along way, things I need to polish up on,” Decker said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I’m far from a finished product — definitely far from a finished product — so I got a lot of work to do.”
With personal expectations that likely exceed those by his team and fans, Decker will be a key cog in the offense this fall. He’s stood out during offseason training, but notes he’s still a rookie and learning the playbook can be like drinking from a firehose.