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Buckeyes Well Represented in Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 1.0
By Patrick Murphy

If Mel Kiper is correct, Joey Bosa will be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft
Photo by Jim Davidson

COLUMBUS – Every year, ESPN’s college draft analyst Mel Kiper releases mock drafts ahead of the NFL Draft. On Tuesday, Kiper released his 2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 and Ohio State is tied for the most players selected in the first round with Alabama at four.

Going at No. 1 overall, according to Kiper, is Joey Bosa. This should come to no surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to college football, but there were some pundits that believe that the Tennessee Titans will take Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Kiper is not one of those, as he has Tunsil going third to the San Diego Chargers.

On the former Buckeye defensive end, Kiper writes:

Bosa has the upside of a star. He's a dominant pass-rusher who piled up 51.0 tackles for loss over three seasons despite running into a steady supply of double-teams, and he's also outstanding against the run. You can move him around on the line at will. The son of a former first-round pick, he comes in ready to contribute.”

It is interesting to note that defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, who was the No. 1 overall player in Bosa’s recruiting class, won’t go until the 13th pick to the Philadelphia Eagles according to Kiper, showing that it’s not always how you start at a program but how you finish.

Taylor Decker in a first-round talent
Photo by Dan Harker

The second Buckeye off the board, if Kiper’s mock draft is to be believed, is offensive tackle Taylor Decker going at No. 18 to the Indianapolis Colts. Decker is one of just six seniors listed as first-round selections and the fourth tackle taken.

With the Colts issues protecting quarterback Andrew Luck – and the other signal callers they used when Luck was hurt this year an experienced and talented player like Decker would be welcome to Indianapolis. This selection could potentially pair two former teammates in Decker and fellow offensive lineman Jack Mewhort.

On Decker, Kiper says: “Decker has a ton of experience -- he could have entered the draft last year and landed late in Round 1 -- and could be your Week 1 starter at left tackle in Indy.”

Note, these next picks are not set, as the NFL Playoffs are still ongoing.

The next selection, and the most interesting, is cornerback Eli Apple going No. 26 to the Seattle Seahawks. On Apple, who some considered a surprise to declare early for the draft, Kiper said the following:

“A long, physical cornerback who is a fearless tackler is a great fit for Pete Carroll.”

Because Seattle already has starter corners established, Apple could come in and learn from some of the best before working his way up the depth chart. As Kiper said, “it’s impossible to have too many corners that can play,” due to potential injuries at the position.

The final Buckeye going in the first round of the mock draft is running back Ezekiel Elliott. Kiper projects Elliott to be taken with the 29th pick of the first round by the Denver Broncos.

With quarterback Peyton Manning

Ezekiel Elliott looks NFL ready
Photo by Jim Davidson

potentially hanging up his cleats after an injury-plagued season, Kiper said the Broncos will likely look to become a more run-based team. While they do have a couple of options, Kiper rates Elliott as a great fit in Denver and the best prospect available at this point.

“[Elliott] has vision, runs behind his pads, can turn a small crease into a big gain, catches the ball with ease, and is one of the best blocking tailbacks I've ever seen.”

While those are all the OSU players projected by Kiper to be taken in the first round, here are some other picks Buckeye fans might be interested.

Cleveland Browns select quarterback Jared Goff out of California with the No. 2 pick. The Cincinnati Bengals take Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller – someone the Scarlet and Gray should remember from the Fiesta Bowl – with the 24th pick. The Pittsburgh Steelers pick Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller – who Michael Thomas left in the dust – with the 25th selection.

Kiper does point out that this is the first of many mock drafts he will do leading up to the draft, which begins on April 28. He notes that teams do not have draft boards yet and there is still the combine before any selections are made.

Player profiles relevant to story:
13 - Apple, Eli | 15 - Elliott, Ezekiel | 68 - Decker, Taylor | 97 - Bosa, Joey
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