While not every draft class out of Ohio State goes on to have incredible success, several of the prospects from the 2014 NFL Draft class have gone on to claim All-Pro honors, Super Bowl championships, and some of the league’s top-dollar contracts.
With most of the players drafted that year playing on four-year, rookie deals, the 2017 season was important in figuring out what their next move would be career-wise. One Buckeye became one of the highest paid players at his position, and another went back to the Buckeye state during this year’s free agency shuffle.
Not every player picked in 2014 went on to be among the next generation of All-Pros, but a good number of the Buckeyes who made the transition to the league that year still have a lot of football ahead of them.
2014 NFL Draft Results
|Ryan Shazier||OLB||Round 1 (No. 15)||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Bradley Roby||CB||Round 1 (No. 31)||Denver Broncos|
|Carlos Hyde||RB||Round 2 (No. 57)||San Francisco 49ers*|
|Jack Mewhort||OT||Round 2 (No. 59)||Indianapolis Colts|
|Corey Linsley||C||Round 5 (No. 161)||Green Bay Packers|
|Christian Bryant||DB||Round 7 (No. 241)||St. Louis Rams*|
|Andrew Norwell||OG||Undrafted Free Agent||Carolina Panthers*|
|Corey "Philly" Brown||WR||Undrafted Free Agent||Carolina Panthers*|
|C.J. Barnett||SS||Undrafted Free Agent||New York Giants*|
*No longer with this team
Top of the class
Andrew Norwell: The best story of this entire draft class is offensive guard Andrew Norwell going undrafted, signing with the Panthers, and then ending up as one of the highest paid players at his position in 2018. The top guard has been a player to watch for a couple seasons, but Carolina decided to use a second-round tender on the Buckeye in 2017 to keep him around at least one more season. When the team failed to tag him ahead of free agency, teams came calling — quickly.
One of many successful offensive linemen out of Ohio State, Norwell hasn’t missed a game since 2015 and was voted a First-Team All-Pro for his standout performance in 2017. Norwell is now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and, with a five-year deal worth north of $66.5 million, is laughing at every team that overlooked him back in 2014.
Corey Linsley: Another Buckeye that was expected to hit the free agency market in 2018 was center Corey Linsley, but the Green Bay Packers weren’t about to lose one of their few consistencies on the offensive line. Protecting QB Aaron Rodgers is an important job, and one that the Packers trusted Linsley with, to the tune of $25.5 million over three years.
The Buckeye was an immediate starter for the team in 2014, and earned All-Rookie honors during his first year in the league. With the way that Green Bay likes to draft and retain talent, it seems safe to say that Linsley should have some job security unless he gets bitten by the injury bug over the next couple of years.
Ryan Shazier: The All-Pro linebacker was at the top of his game, playing on the fifth-year option that the Steelers picked up ahead of the 2017 season, and was among the elite at his position in just three years at the next level.
And then, in December 2017, Shazier went in for a tackle against the Bengals and suffered a back injury that left him motionless from the waist down after the play. His recovery from spinal stabilization surgery has been a slow, but successful process. The linebacker continued to be a source of inspiration for his team, and has since regained feeling and movement in his legs, but as of February wasn’t yet walking on his own without some support.
Shazier doesn’t just plan on walking again, he’s said that he intends on playing football again. And while that certainly won’t be in time for the 2018 season, he’ll get a taste of the sideline again during Ohio State’s Spring Game on April 14th, where the legendary Buckeye will act as Honorary Coach (alongside Malcolm Jenkins).
The Buckeye had certainly set the stage for a Hall of Fame career during his first four years in the league; claiming 207 total tackles, 25 defended passes, 14 forced turnovers, and 7.0 sacks. He was having a career-high season before his injury, and earned his second Pro Bowl invite. If anyone can make it back onto the field after a life-changing injury, my money is on Shazier being that guy all day long.
On the cusp of greatness
Bradley Roby: The cornerback out of Ohio State spent the early part of his career playing backup to a very loaded Denver Broncos’ secondary, that included the likes of Aqib Talib and Von Miller. He slowly earned playing time and before you know it, was picking off passes in big moments, just as he had in Columbus. The team decided to utilize the 5th-year option under Roby’s rookie contract, keeping him in Denver through the 2018 season.
Roby hasn’t missed a single game in his four NFL seasons, and among the 64 regular season games that he’s suited up for, was named a starter in 14 of them. So far in his NFL career, Roby has amassed 168 total tackles, 49 passes defended, six interceptions (two pick-6’s), five forced fumbles (one recovered for a TD), and 3.0 sacks -- not to mention, a Super Bowl Championship ring. The 2018 season could end up being Roby’s breakout year, with starter Aqib Talib no longer with the team, the Buckeye has a chance to take over the starting role.
Carlos Hyde: Things have not exactly gone swimmingly for Hyde thus far in the NFL, but if 2017 was any indication, it’ll be just a matter of time before El Guapo is a household name. Despite having lived through three head coaches in his four years in the league, Hyde was able to find some consistency last season under Kyle Shanahan, finishing the year with several career-highs.
The timing for his career-best performance was impeccable, heading into free agency following the 2017 season. Considered one of the top running backs available, Hyde eventually ended up signing a deal bringing him back to the Buckeye State, on a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. In four years, the former Ohio State star has claimed 655 carries for 2,729 yards, along with 634 receiving yards, for 24 total touchdowns.
Jack Mewhort: Despite a host of injuries throughout his four-year NFL career, Mewhort has been a big part of the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line, and his absence was felt whenever he was sidelined. The Buckeye was considered a top guard prospect during this year’s free agency, but the Colts ended up getting Mewhort to re-sign with the struggling organization. His one-year deal protects the team from committing to someone who has had the extensive injury history that Mewhort has, but also will allow the OG to demand more money in 2019 if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season.
Christian Bryant: Drafted in the final round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the then-St. Louis Rams, Bryant finally saw playing time in his second year in the league, suiting up for nine games that season. He didn’t really stand out in his few opportunities, and was waived just before the 2016 season. The Arizona Cardinals picked him up as a practice squad addition, and spent a short part of the season promoting Bryant to the active roster and then waiving him — on repeat. He spent a small portion of the 2017 offseason signed to the Cleveland Browns, but didn’t end up making an active roster for the remainder of the year — and he still remains unsigned.
Corey “Philly” Brown: The Ohio State receiver didn’t get drafted, but did end up on a Carolina Panthers team that featured QB Cam Newton. Brown spent three years with the Panthers, claiming just over 1,000 receiving yards and seven TDs over those three seasons. He showed hints of potential his rookie season, recording a punt return for a touchdown, but failed to make any real contributions on offense. When Brown became a free agent ahead of the 2017 season, the Panthers chose not to re-sign him, and the Buckeye was instead headed to Buffalo — he didn’t end up making the final roster, and spent last season watching his colleagues from his TV at home.
C.J. Barnett: After falling off the draft boards, Barnett ended up signing with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent. Originally inking a three-year deal, the Buckeye didn’t end up making the final roster and was cut during the preseason. He didn’t seem to find another team willing to develop him, and his short-lived NFL career came to a close.
This is the third in a five-part series, evaluating the draft classes out of Ohio State from 2012-2016, in reverse order.