It is an annual tradition for high schools across the country to hand out snappy little monikers to the graduating class’ best of the best. These superlatives sum up who from the class has made an impact and how they will be remembered. Well, that’s stuff mostly just silly high school popularity contests, but this set of superlatives is nothing like that.
We have used years of science, observation, and deduction to determine the incredibly serious and absolutely accurate list of superlatives for Ohio State’s 2021 NFL Draft class!
Most likely to succeed – Justin Fields
Projecting draft class/draftee success is always a crapshoot — pedigree be damned. However, I feel pretty good in assuming that Justin Fields will be viewed as the betting favorite to achieve immediate success from this Ohio State draft class. Hell, he may be “most likely to succeed” from the entire draft class, not just former Buckeyes. Fields has found success at every level of football that he has ever played, and many believe that the NFL will be no different. Stats and film have been referred to ad nauseam, but facts are facts: Fields was projected to go as high as number two in the recent draft, and teams were willing to trade up for him when he slipped out of the top five.
For the Chicago Bears, Justin will be competing at quarterback with the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton. Once he learns Matt Nagy’s offense, Fields should have no trouble earning the starting QB nod over Dalton. There are weapons to work with, and the NFC North is not a Murderer’s Row of opposing defenses. If not right away, Fields should find success quickly, and I’m surely not alone in believing he deserves this superlative.
Most athletic – Baron Browning
Coming out of high school, Baron Browning was already viewed as a freak athlete with NFL potential. While it took a while for him to find his footing at Ohio State, he would eventually show what made him a five-star recruit on the field. At his pro day, Browning ran a 4.5 second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds. He also had a 40-inch vertical jump and nearly 11-foot broad jump. That athleticism, as well as the positional versatility teams look for, earned him a selection in the third round.
In Denver, Browning will have the opportunity to try his hand at both 3-4 linebacker and defensive end. Learning from a guy like Von Miller will only help his cause. Every OSU draftee is a terrific athlete in their own right, but Browning is special.
Most popular – Jonathon Cooper
If you’ve followed Jonathan Cooper’s career at Ohio State, you know he is immensely popular with coaches and teammates. Through ups and downs, Coop battled his ass off for the program for six years. When he returned for 2020, he was given the number zero — signifying Block O. It is not just folks within the program; Coop was appreciated by all Buckeye fans as well.
On day three of the draft, he was finally selected in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos. It did not take long for a video to go viral — of neighborhood kids coming to Cooper’s house to congratulate him. That goes to show you the kind of character and attitude he always carries himself with. This guy will win over teammates and fans wherever he goes.
Most likely to make millions (beyond first contract) – Shaun Wade
For the record, I expect all of these draftees to achieve some level of success — and hopefully make millions for themselves and their families. Shaun Wade is a special case though, as he may end up earning the most significant raise over his rookie contract. After the 2019 season, Wade was projected by some to sneak into the first round of the NFL Draft.
However, he chose to come back and make a run at a championship. The Clemson game from the previous year no doubt left a bad taste in his mouth, and he also envisioned a chance to prove his worth as an outside cornerback.
Things did not go according to plan for Wade. While the team success may have been enjoyable, he struggled with the transition to CB1. The pandemic-shorted offseason and a turf-toe injury that was revealed after the CFP likely made life more difficult than it otherwise would have been; it just wasn’t a good individual season for Shaun.
Because of the disappointing performance, Wade fell all the way to the fifth round, and was selected by the Baltimore Ravens. In Baltimore, he will get great coaching and a chance to learn from other cornerbacks such as Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Don’t be surprised if Wade is making big bucks with his second contract.
Most changed – Pete Werner
Pete Werner came to Columbus as a four-star recruit, albeit one without much hype. People within the program were undoubtedly excited to have him, but he was in the same class as previously mentioned five-star Baron Browning. While he backed off a commitment to Notre Dame, other suitors for Werner’s services were the likes of Army, Boston College, Illinois, and a host of other schools a notch below Ohio State. Werner’s recruitment was not the stuff of legend.
Once on campus — and on the field — Werner did not let anything hold him back. After seeing limited action as a freshman, he became a starter in 2018 and never relinquished the role. Over the next three years, Werner steadily improved, and became the most well-rounded linebacker on the team.
With that already in his favor, his pro day earlier this spring was a success, as he ran a 4.6 forty yard dash and performed well in drills. All of that hard work and determination paid off when he was selected by the New Orleans Saints 60th overall. From unheralded recruit to a round-two draftee, Werner certainly changed his own trajectory.
Others receiving votes:
Most likely to overachieve – Wyatt Davis
If you listen to Hangout in the Holy Land, you know I am a big fan of Wyatt Davis. The two-time All-American could have been a first round draft pick after the 2020 season. Despite another stellar year, he slipped in the draft — likely due to a late season injury. Davis was selected 86th overall by the Minnesota Vikings, and has a great opportunity to start game one. There is not a ton of talent on the Vikes’ offensive line, but Davis has plenty. Do not be surprised if he goes from day-two pick, to All-Pro caliber guard in the near future.
Most likely to return as a teacher (coach) – Josh Myers
Center is a cerebral position, and Myers played it well. He earned the trust of coaches and teammates, and was starting there by his redshirt sophomore year — after a position change from guard. He was selected in the draft by Green Bay, and will replace former Buckeye Corey Linsley as the new maestro of their offensive line. Myers comes from a family of football players, and clearly knows the game well, so it would not be surprising for him to follow in the footsteps of a Luke Fickell or Brian Hartline.
Most likely to become an Olympic powerlifter – Tommy Togiai
I do not remember this superlative from when I went to school, but we are making it up anyway. “Big Tom” was always referred to as the strongest player on the team during his time at Ohio State. Forty repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press during his pro day did nothing to make me doubt that. Although he has the talent to play for a long time in Cleveland, powerlifting could potentially be a pretty good fallback plan.
Class clown – Trey Sermon
I have no idea if Trey Sermon has a great sense of humor, but one could make that assumption based off that viral meme that became popular during Ohio State’s victory in the Big Ten Championship Game. He was drafted in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers, a team that loves to use their running backs. He will now be given every opportunity to prove that he is the talented running back that we saw late in the year. Here’s hoping Sermon can also get the last laugh over teams that passed up on him in the draft.
Teacher’s Pet – Luke Farrell
Luke Farrell was the only Buckeye selected by Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars. A surprise to many, Farrell is the sort of well-rounded tight end Ohio State has produced in years past. Think Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman.
With a new regime in Jax, he could have a leg up on some of his competition due to familiarity with leadership. Meyer recruited Farrell while at Ohio State, and the coach’s fondness for him may have played a role in the selection. Don’t let that fool you, however, as the tight end could enjoy a long NFL career.