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Which Buckeyes could be first round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft?

Ohio State has a chance of producing a top-five pick for fifth time since 2016

Big Ten Championship - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

“When Young was a freshman, Jalyn Holmes said Young could be the first pick in the draft. A quarterback-needy team could keep that from happening. But this season is the first in which Young is draft eligible. And if he indeed leaves, will he be a top-five pick?”

- Tim Bielik,

Ohio State has consistently been one of the best college football programs in the nation at getting players into the NFL, especially in the early rounds of the NFL Draft. Throughout the history of the league, OSU has had 81 players selected in the first round — tied for No. 1 with USC. Since 2000, the Buckeyes have had at least one player selected in the first round 13 times. In 10 of those 13 occasions, there was more than one Ohio State player selected through the first 32 picks.

With Nick Bosa coming off the board at No. 2 overall, the Buckeyes have now produced four top-five picks the last four years — Joey Bosa (No. 3) and Ezekiel Elliott (No. 4) in 2016, and Denzel Ward (No. 4) in 2018. The Buckeyes added another first-round pick this year, with Dwayne Haskins joining Bosa in the opening round at No. 15. While the 2019 NFL Draft has just come to an end, it is never too early to look toward the future and try and figure out which players on this year’s Ohio State team can join their fellow Buckeyes as first-round picks in 2020.

The most obvious pick is defensive end Chase Young, who has a chance to give OSU their fifth top-five pick in as many years. After Bosa went down with an injury early in the season, Young was the star of Ohio State’s defensive line. Despite playing most of the year through injury, Young played in nine games, totaling 22 tackles with 10 tackles for loss and six sacks while adding three pass breakups and a forced fumble. Young is primed for a huge season on a revamped Buckeye defense. If Young can remain healthy this season, he will wreak havoc on opposing offenses en route to an early first-round pick, potentially even at the No. 1 spot.

It becomes a bit of a guessing game outside of Young for first-round talent, but another guy who could hear his name called on the draft’s first night is corner Jeffrey Okudah. The junior defensive back was questionable at times in coverage early in the year, but really showcased his skills late in the season, especially in the Rose Bowl against Washington. Okudah possesses great size and speed and should excel in the new-look Ohio State defense, giving him a chance to earn first-round honors like so many Buckeye DBs before him.

While obviously a lot can change over the course of the next year, Young and Okudah will likely be the two first rounders for OSU in 2020. It would not be surprising for J. K. Dobbins to potentially work his way into the first round if he could recapture the magic from his freshman year, or Thayer Munford, Ohio State’s most consistent lineman a year ago playing at one of the NFL’s most important positions as an offensive tackle. Regardless of which players get selected in the 2020 NFL Draft and when, the Buckeyes will be heading into the season with a roster full of future NFL talent.

“I just got off the phone with Dwayne just a little while ago, and I told him it was OK to wear No. 7. I’ve given him permission. Not that I feel like I needed to, but he was respectful enough to ask.”

- Joe Theismann via Kevin Patra,

It appears as though Dwayne Haskins will continue to wear the No. 7 as a member of the Washington Redskins, the same number he wore both at Ohio State and in high school. Legendary Super Bowl winning QB Joe Theismann was the last to wear the number as a member of the Redskins, with the No. 7 being unofficially on the retired list for the last 30 years. Theismann has given the new Washington QB his blessing to don the number, hoping that the team has finally found its quarterback of the future after so much trial and error throughout the last decade.

Nick Bosa will also continue wearing No. 97 as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, while wide receiver Parris Campbell will switch to No. 15 as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, as his Ohio State No. 21 is not an eligible number for a wideout in the NFL. Michael Jordan will wear No. 60 for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Mike Weber will wear No. 40 for the Dallas Cowboys. The rest of Ohio State’s draft class has not yet announced their numbers.

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