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The 2018 NFL Draft could be a monster year for Ohio State

While it looks like a quarterback-heavy draft, the Buckeyes have some serious first-round talent.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“If the 2017 NFL Draft has been defined by stars on defense--beginning with first-overall pick Myles Garrett--the 2018 NFL Draft could be known for quarterbacks.”

-Dan Kadar, SB Nation

Despite three quarterbacks being taken in the first round of this weekend’s NFL Draft, next year might turn out to be the next year of the quarterback when it comes to potential NFL talent. With USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and a slew of other noteworthy names, teams that missed out on one of the few pro-ready quarterbacks this season have another shot at redemption in 12 months. In fact, based on early mock drafts, quarterbacks could make up the top-three picks and six total first-round selections in 2018.

While it is unlikely that Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett will be considered among the draft’s top prospects at quarterback, the Buckeyes boast a number of other big names on both sides of the ball who could prove to be first round talent come next year’s draft.

For starters, defensive end Sam Hubbard, who is entering his junior season with the program, is expected to have a monster year, despite being on one of the most stacked units on the roster. A Cincinnati native, Hubbard is projected to go to the Cincinnati Bengals as a top-10 pick.

Tyquan Lewis, one of Hubbard’s fellow defensive ends, is another top prospect, projected to join a number of former Buckeyes on the New Orleans Saints. While Lewis would have been eligible for this year’s draft, he opted to return to Columbus for his senior season, and could continue to improve his draft stock as a first-round pick.

Finally, given the success that Ezekiel Elliott found in his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys, it is no surprise that Mike Weber, Elliott’s successor at Ohio State, is a projected first-rounder himself. Entering his second season as a starter, Weber has all the potential for a major sophomore campaign to elevate his draft stock.

“A year ago, the Buckeyes had 12 players selected in the first four rounds of the draft, the most in NFL history. This year, six Buckeyes were picked in the first three rounds, including three in the first round.”

-Mark Schlabach, ESPN

Nick Saban has a tall order ahead of him as he prepares to replace the 10 Alabama players taken in this weekend’s NFL Draft--including seven selections from the first 55 picks. That task is something that is familiar to Urban Meyer, who last season replaced a dozen players on both sides of the ball after a historic draft.

This season, as the Buckeyes lost significantly fewer players to the draft, rebuilding should, in theory, be a simpler process than in 2016. The Buckeyes return 14 starters on both sides of the ball, including J.T. Barrett, who is entering his senior season at quarterback. Combined with an updated coaching staff, Ohio State is poised for a title run in 2017.

In fact, following the draft, the Buckeyes emerged as the new top team in ESPN’s latest Way-Too-Early ranking, up from the No. 4 spot last week. Florida State, Alabama, USC and Penn State round out the top-five.

Despite a shutout loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes have enough key pieces returning to be a frontrunner for next season. With Kevin Wilson adjusting play on the offense, highlighting Barrett’s downfield passing ability, and receivers with size and speed to make plays, Ohio State’s offense could prove a formidable force come the fall. The defense boasts one of the nation’s best front-seven, and a rotation of defensive ends that can provide a relentless pass rush. And though the secondary alone saw three players taken in the first round of the draft, the replacements, including cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette alongside safety Damon Webb, have the skill level to step in and perform straight away.

The team will face an early test against Oklahoma, who, despite the losses of running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine and wide receiver Dede Westbrook, holds the No. 8 spot in the early rankings.

“We gave this match everything we had because we knew that was what was absolutely going to be needed. Now, we will see what happens with the NCAA draw on Tuesday and start preparing for that. I’m just really proud of the fight and toughness of this team.

-Ohio State women’s tennis coach Melissa Schaub, via the Ohio State University

A week after capturing the Big Ten regular season titles, both the Ohio State men’s and women’s tennis teams took home conference tournament victories.

For the fourth-ranked women, the 4-0 win over No. 10 Michigan, who was the second-overall seed in the conference tournament, marked the program’s second-straight Big Ten Tournament victory. With the win, Ohio State earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, making it the fourth-straight year that the squad has earned a tournament berth.

The Buckeyes entered the weekend as the top seed in the tournament, hosted at Illinois, and earned wins over Nebraska and Illinois on their way to the finals. The win over Michigan was the squad’s 14th-straight win, and concluded a 28-2 season.

After earning the doubles point with wins on two courts, the Buckeyes shut out Michigan with three straight singles wins by seniors Ferny Angeles Paz, Gabriella De Santis and Miho Kowase. It was the squad’s second win over Michigan this season, after Ohio State earned a 5-1 victory in a nonconference tournament in February.

On the men’s side, the top-seeded Buckeyes also defeated second-seed Michigan 4-1 to take home the tournament crown--the team’s 10th in 12 years. The win marked Ohio State’s 24th-straight win over the Wolverines. Ohio State, who is ranked second nationally behind Wake Forest, swept both Minnesota and Wisconsin 4-0 on their way to the tournament finals.

The Buckeyes earned the doubles point early, winning on two courts over a strong opposition from Michigan, who is one of the top doubles teams in the Big Ten. Subsequent singles wins by Mikael Torpegaard, the No. 2 player in the country, Hugo Di Feo and Herkko Pollanen sealed the win for the Buckeyes, who won three of four finished singles matches on the day.

The NCAA Tournaments for both the men and women are scheduled to begin May 12.

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