Throughout the month of August, LGHL writers will be attempting to answer some of the most important questions about Ohio State’s 2021 football season. To catch up on all editions of LGHL Asks, click HERE.
LGHL Asks: Which Ohio State football player will be the next inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
On Thursday, Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day took his team a couple hours north to Canton for a “business trip”. The Buckeyes not only practiced at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in the morning, in the afternoon they were able to tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not only was this a bonding trip for the team, it also allowed the Buckeyes to look back on some of the Ohio State figures from the past who have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Currently there are 11 former Buckeyes in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Orlando Pace was the most recent Ohio State player to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as he was part of the 2016 Hall of Fame class. Overall, eight Ohio State players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with coaches Paul Brown and Sid Gilman, as well as filmmaker Ed Sabol. Ohio State credits Brown with being an inductee of the school even though he went to Miami (OH), since Brown did coach the Buckeyes from 1941-43.
So who will be the next Buckeye to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Ohio State has been packing the NFL with talent in recent years, as at least seven Buckeyes have been selected in each of the last six editions of the NFL Draft. While not every Ohio State player in the NFL is going to come close to sniffing a Hall of Fame career, the Buckeyes are sure producing a lot of solid NFL talent.
Nick Mangold - Center - New York Jets
To be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a center, you have to be really, really good at the position. There are only 13 centers enshrined in Canton, with Kevin Mawae being the latest to receive a gold jacket in 2019. Mangold was a Pro Bowler in seven seasons, which is a tremendous achievement. What might keep Mangold out of Canton is only being named First-team All-Pro in two seasons. By comparison, Mawae was an eight-time Pro Bowler, and earned First-team All-Pro honors in seven seasons.
There’s no denying that Nick Mangold was one of the best centers in the NFL in the 10 years he was in the league. The problem is, at a position like center where so few players get into the Hall of Fame, you have to be special to earn a spot in Canton. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Mangold to get into the Hall of Fame, as he needs just a little more on his resumé.
Malcolm Jenkins - Defensive Back - New Orleans Saints/Philadelphia Eagles
It feels like Malcolm Jenkins has been in the NFL for nearly two decades. Next month will see Jenkins enter his 13th season in the NFL, and there hasn’t been many players in the league during that time who have done as much as Jenkins on and off the field. Not only is Jenkins a two-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Pro Bowler, but Jenkins has been active in the fight for social justice.
Unfortunately, much like Mangold, it feels like Jenkins is going to come up short in his quest for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jenkins has done about everything you could ask a professional football player to do, he just doesn’t quite have that wow factor that you see with Hall of Famers like Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, or Troy Polamalu. Who knows, Jenkins could still have a few more years in his NFL career to give the voters something to think about when he is eligible for possible induction.
Joey Bosa - Defensive End - Los Angeles Chargers
“Big Bear” came out of the gates strong for the Chargers, recording 10.5 sacks in 12 games to earn the 2016 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Bosa is entering his sixth season in the NFL and already has 47.5 sacks. The key for Bosa will be to stay healthy, which is something that he hasn’t been able to do during most of his NFL career. In just two of his first five seasons has Bosa played all 16 games. If Bosa can stay healthy, as well as continue to rack up double-digit sack seasons, he’ll have a real chance at making it to Canton.
Ezekiel Elliott - Running Back - Dallas Cowboys
What is going to hurt Ezekiel Elliott in his quest to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is how the shelf life for running backs continues to get shorter and shorter. Elliott is entering his sixth season in the NFL and already has over 1,400 carries. As strange as it sounds, it almost feels like Elliott is on the down-side of his career because of the beating that running backs take. Currently Elliott has 6,384 career yards rushing. If he can get to 10,000 career rushing yards, talk could heat up about Elliott possibly making it to Canton.
Michael Thomas - Wide Receiver - New Orleans Saints
The former Ohio State wide receiver already has three seasons of at least 100 receptions under his belt, including an NFL record 149 receptions in 2019. The historic season earned Thomas NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. I don’t see Thomas as a game-changer like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, or Calvin Johnson, who are all recent inductees. It also isn’t going to help Thomas that he will no longer have Drew Brees throwing to him. If Thomas can become more of a deep threat, he could put together a real case for induction in the future.
Chase Young - Washington Football Team - Defensive End
This could be extremely premature, but if Young lives up to his potential, he should be honored in Canton a couple decades down the road. Young not only earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie in 2020, he was also the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The next few seasons will determine what Young’s odds are for enshrinement. While there are a lot of variables, if you made me choose which Buckeye would be the next to make it to Canton, Young would be my choice.
Justin Fields - Quarterback - Chicago Bears
If you ask Bears fans, Fields is already a Hall of Famer.