When Jaxon Smith-Njigba was taken with the 20th pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday night, it marked the 90th first round pick from Ohio State all-time in the NFL Draft. The Buckeyes are the first college to reach 90 first round picks.
With so many first round picks over the years, I figured it would be a fun exercise to dive even deeper into the numbers when it comes to the Ohio State first round picks.
There have been six times where Ohio State players have been taken with back-to-back picks in the first round.
The first time this occurred was in 1959, when running back Don Clark was taken seventh overall by the Chicago Bears, followed by the San Francisco 49ers selecting center Dan James with the next pick. The 49ers were involved the next time this happened as well, drafting defensive back William Tim Anderson with the 23rd pick in 1971, one pick before Leo Hayden was taken by the Minnesota Vikings. Linebackers Rick Middleton and Randy Gradishar were picked with the 13th and 14th picks in 1974 by the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos, respectively.
The other three back-to-back first round picks from Ohio State have come within the last 20 years. In 2004, Chris Gamble was taken 28th overall by the Carolina Panthers, followed by the Atlanta Falcons taking Michael Jenkins off the board. The highest back-to-back picks came in 2020, when Chase Young was picked second overall by the Washington Commanders and Jeffrey Okudah selected by the Detroit Lions. Last year we saw two wide receivers come off the board together when the New York Jets made Garrett Wilson the 10th overall pick, one spot before the New Orleans Saints picked Chris Olave.
Seven former Buckeye first round picks have gone on to win the Associated Press NFL Rookie of the Year Award.
The most recent of those winners came at the end of the 2022, when wide receiver Garrett Wilson was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Two other Ohio State alums have won the honor on the offensive side. Running back John Brockington was the first Buckeye to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1971 after being taken with the ninth overall pick by the Green Bay Packers. Eddie George was the next to win the award in 1996 following his first, and only, season with the Houston Oilers before the franchise moved to Tennessee.
Four former Ohio State players have won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, with all of those winners coming in a five-year span. Marshon Lattimore was the first Buckeye to win the award, being named the 2017 recipient after being selected with the 11th pick by the New Orleans Saints. The next year Joey Bosa won following a tremendous first season with the Chargers. Nick Bosa would follow in his brother’s footsteps in 2019, and in 2020 Chase Young would become the third Ohio State defensive end to earn the honor.
Of the 90 Ohio State players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, just three have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Offensive guard Jim Parker was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts, and 16 years later Parker was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 1964 Cleveland Browns first rounder Paul Warfield would be enshrined in Canton in 1983. Orlando Pace was the first pick of the 1997 draft, 19 years before The Pancake Man would officially be a hall of famer.
After the Houston Texans picked C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, 28 NFL teams have now used a first round pick on a former Buckeye. The only teams that haven’t picked an Ohio State alum in the first round are the Baltimore Ravens, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Of those four teams that haven’t picked a Buckeye in the first round of the NFL Draft, only the Baltimore Ravens have picked a player from Ohio State in the second round. The Ravens brought running back J.K. Dobbins to Baltimore when they selected him with the 55th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these four teams finally pick a Buckeye in the near future.
The position that the most first round picks have come from is defensive back, which has seen 18 Ohio State players become first rounders.
The last of those Buckeye defensive backs to become a first round pick was Denzel Ward, who was taken fourth overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2018. The selection of Ward capped off a five-draft span that saw six former Ohio State defensive backs tabbed in the first round.
The gap to second place when it comes to the positions of first round picks from Ohio State closed a little bit when Paris Johnson Jr. was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the sixth pick this year, making him the 14th offensive tackle to wear scarlet and gray to go in the first round. Linebackers and running backs are the other positions to reach double-digits in first round draft picks, with each seeing 11 Buckeyes drafted in the first round over the years.
When the Texans selected C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick, it marked the 12th time an Ohio State player has been selected with one of the first three picks in the NFL Draft. In three of the last five drafts, the second overall pick has been a Buckeye, as Nick Bosa went second overall in 2019, followed by Chase Young in 2020.
The first top-three pick from Ohio State came all the way back in 1956, when Howard “Hopalong” Cassady was selected with the third overall pick. The next Buckeye to be selected with a top-three pick was John Hicks in 1974 when the New York Giants took the offensive lineman with the third pick. The first time Ohio State had a No. 1 overall pick was later in the decade when the Buffalo Bills took Tom Cousineau at the top of the 1979 draft.