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Final thoughts on the 2022 NFL Draft

How did the Buckeyes fare?

Michigan State v Ohio State
1st round pick Garrett Wilson should be a star with the NY Jets
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 2022 NFL Draft is over, and the dust has now settled (more or less). We know the current status of all of the Ohio State Buckeyes who were eligible for the draft. There’s nothing left now but to talk about it.

The Bucks had six players selected in the seven-round draft. That figure is one fewer than we expected, and a bit below the 10-year average of the Urban Meyer/Ryan Day era (7.6). Anything to be concerned about? No. Of the six, two were taken in the top 11 picks overall, and four were taken in the first three rounds. It’s not surprising that five of the six draftees were on the offensive side of the ball; the 2021 OSU defense just wasn’t that good.

Additionally, several of these players were in the Ohio State recruiting class that fell during the coaching transition year for the Buckeyes, and that recruiting year was sub-par for the Bucks.

Recruits are sure to look at draft results, but they look at a longer picture than a single year. Whether it’s a 10-year span or a forever span, Ohio State is at the top in sending its players to NFL teams.

The competition

Somewhat surprisingly, the Buckeyes didn’t lead the Big Ten in number of players selected. That honor belongs to the Penn State Nittany Lions, who placed eight in the seven rounds (fourth among all NCAA teams this year) — one in the first round, two in the second. In-state rival Cincinnati demonstrated that they had the talent to belong in the championship playoffs, as the Bearcats had nine players drafted, with five going in the first three rounds.

National champion Georgia set a new record with 15 Bulldogs drafted, besting the previous mark of 14, set by the Buckeyes in 2004. The draft was really enormous for Georgia; five Dawgs were gone by the end of the first round, and five more were taken in rounds two and three. The five first-rounders were all members of that vicious Georgia defense. LSU was second in number of players drafted with 10, followed by Cincinnati and Penn State. Alabama and Oklahoma had seven players each. Ohio State joined UCLA, Baylor, and Ole Miss with six. Other Big Ten teams: Michigan (five), Wisconsin (five), Michigan State (four), Minnesota (four).

Although Ohio State wasn’t at the top of the list, with two receivers going back-to-back in the first round and a tight end chosen in the third round, the Bucks can obviously use the results of the draft to promote its passing offense to the quarterbacks and receivers that it’s recruiting. All in all, a decent enough draft for OSU. Here’s how I see individual former Buckeyes’ NFL futures.

What we can expect

Garrett Wilson: 1st round, No. 10 overall pick — New York Jets

As we expected, the talented Buckeye receiver was the first Buck chosen. Although many draft observers expected Wilson to be the first wide receiver off the board, he wasn’t. With the No. 8 overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons opted for size and picked Southern Cal’s Drake London.

Wilson joins a Jets club that needs a lot of help. Frankly, they’ve needed a lot of help for a pretty long time. The Jets played a throng of quarterbacks as they went 4-13 in 2021, as injuries and poor performance necessitated some juggling. Three of those QBs are still on the roster and are likely to be when the season starts: Zach Wilson, Mike White, and Joe Flacco.

Flacco, at 37, played in only a couple of games last year and may be just about done. Zach Wilson, a young hotshot out of BYU, struggled in 2021, as reflected by his numbers. He completed only 55.6% of his 383 passes for 2334 yards, five touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. His average per attempt of 6.1 yards is low, by any standard, and the speedy Garrett Wilson might help out here. Mike White’s stats were a little better than Zach Wilson’s, but not the stuff from which boasts are made. Whoever starts — it’ll be Zach Wilson — is not going to be All-Pro, at least just yet.

At the receiver positions, the Jets feature Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios. All are competent, and Moore may emerge eventually as a star. There’s certainly room for Wilson, though, and by mid-season, he may be the favorite Jets’ target.

Prediction: Day-one starter, with star potential quickly in his NFL career.

Chris Olave: 1st round, No. 11 overall pick — New Orleans Saints

For all of you discussing who would go first, Wilson or Olave, it was a tossup, as they went back-to-back. A great day for the OSU receiving corps. Olave becomes a Saint, as so many other Buckeyes have before him. He joins former Buckeye and current NFL superstar Michael Thomas. We’re all hoping that Thomas’s health issues are now resolved and that he’s full-go for 2022. If so, he and Olave will be perfectly complementary: the larger Thomas over the middle, the faster Olave going deep.

Saints’ quarterback Jameis Winston also had injury troubles in 2021, but when he played, he was good. He completed 59% of his passes and threw for 14 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Winston’s 102.8 passing rating is nothing to sneeze at, and Olave finds himself with a really good QB, other strong receivers (Marquez Calloway and Deonte Harris, notably, in addition to Thomas), and a superb running back in Alvin Kamara. A potent offense that should allow Olave to show his stuff.

Prediction: Immediate starter and solid-to-stellar performer for many years to come.

Nicholas Petit-Frere: 3rd round, No. 69 overall pick — Tennessee Titans

It’s no surprise that NPF was chosen as highly as he was. Third round was the prediction by just about everybody. The Titans are, of course, coached by former Buckeye, Mike Vrabel.

Last season, the Titans were a powerhouse and should be again this year. They went 12-5 with a very balanced offense that produced over 2,400 yards on the ground. Yes, Derrick Henry still carries the ball for the Titans. Petit-Frere will find that his run-blocking skills will have to be sharp if he’s going to crack this lineup.

Prediction: For the first couple of seasons, I expect Petit-Frere to play a lot of snaps and then become a starter in his third year, or so. He’ll need some fine-tuning.

Jeremy Ruckert: 3rd round, No. 101 overall pick — New York Jets

Yes, Ruckert and Garrett Wilson will still be on the same team. Ruckert grew up on Long Island and grew up a Jets fan. His excitement about the draft is genuine.

Some experts rated Ruckert the best tight end in this class, or at least the best blocking tight end. But we know that he can run routes and catch passes too. Ruckert has good size and speed and should vie for playing time from the get-go.

Prediction: Ruckert makes the roster easily and sees a lot of snaps after excelling in pre-season action. Maybe not a starter yet – but soon.

Tyreke Smith: 5th round, No. 158 overall pick — Seattle Seahawks

At Ohio State, Smith was a defensive end, or edge rusher. I had high hopes for Smith, and, although he showed flashes of brilliance, he was no Bosa or Chase Young. If reports are accurate, Seattle plans to use a 3-4 look more in the future and to put Smith at outside linebacker. It might be a really good fit. Smith is quick rather than overpowering.

Prediction: I’m stumped here and always have been with Smith. I’ve always liked him, but he’s been a bit disappointing. In the pros, he could be a star or a bust. Let’s go for star!

Thayer Munford: 7th round, No. 238 overall pick — Las Vegas Raiders

Most pundits had Munford going in the fourth or fifth round. It’s quite a drop to seventh. The rap on Munford was inconsistency — looking really good on some plays, not so good on others. The Raiders went 10-7 last year and should be in the hunt for a playoff spot again this year. Munford should make the roster, but will have to work hard in the camps.

Prediction: Marginal player with upside. Career as spot starter and fill-in at several offensive line positions.

Undrafted free agents

Master Teague signed on with the Chicago Bears. I like Teague’s chances of making a roster with somebody. He’s a decent running back and, with his speed and size, would make a good special teams player.

Defensive lineman Haskell Garrett signed with the Tennessee Titans. I’m sure that Garrett’s disappointed that he wasn’t drafted. Most expected him to go in the late rounds. His odds of making a roster are long, I would think. He’s going to have to show something to the Titans that he didn’t always show with the Buckeyes.

Demario McCall. I’m delighted to see that McCall signed a deal with the Bears. He brings versatility and speed to the table. I don’t know what Chicago has in mind for him, but at least he’s still in the game.

Antuan Jackson was invited to the NY Giants’ rookie minicamp, and Chris Booker was invited to participate in the Arizona Cardinals’ camp.

Good luck to all of these former Buckeyes as they begin their pro careers.