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The Buckeyes Dominate the First Round of the NFL Draft According to Todd McShay
By Patrick Murphy
Joey Bosa remains in his rightful place atop the mock draft boards
Photo by Jim Davidson

COLUMBUS – In December, ESPN’s draft analyst Todd McShay released his initial mock draft. A little over a month later, McShay released his updated version.

After having just four Ohio State players in his first release, McShay has gotten wise. He now has seven Buckeyes going in the first round of this April’s NFL Draft.

As McShay says to begin his piece, “A lot has changed in the NFL since we published our first 2016 mock draft in December.” With a little bit more time to research and think about teams’ needs, let’s take a look at where McShay has some of your favorite former OSU players going in the draft.

Despite two draft analysts earlier in the week projecting Joey Bosa going No. 6 to the Baltimore Ravens, McShay still has the Buckeye defensive end going at the top spot. While the No. 1 overall pick is currently held by the Tennessee Titans, McShay said there are those interested in trading to move up.

If no deal is worked out, McShay admits that he could see the Titans taking Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil, as that is their biggest position of need.

But the move is to pull the trigger on Bosa, the best player in the class,” McShay writes. “You can never have too many pass-rushers. And remember: One of Bosa's best traits is that he's scheme versatile, so he'd be a fit even if the Titans decide to stick with a 3-4 alignment.

The next OSU player off the board isn’t until pick No. 18 where McShay has Taylor Decker being taken by the Indianapolis Colts. This seems to be a pretty popular choice as the Colts look to protect quarterback Andrew Luck and Decker certainly can help with that.

The 6-foot-7 Decker has enough range, strength and toughness to hold up in pass protection on the perimeter in the NFL,” McShay says. “He's not overpowering as a run-blocker, but he's highly efficient and consistent.”

With this pick, Decker would reunite with former offensive line teammate Jack Mewhort, whom he played with for two years at Ohio State.

Elliott is the best running back in the draft
Photo by Jim Davidson

Two picks later and another Buckeye is selected according to McShay. At No. 20, he has Ezekiel Elliott going to the New York Jets, whose top three running backs from last season are currently free agents.

McShay praises Elliott’s abilities with and without the ball, believing he’s certainly worthy of being the first running back taken.

“Over the past two seasons, Elliott has shown plenty of examples of his game-breaking ability as a rusher (3,699 yards and 41 TDs),” McShay writes. “He's also an outstanding pass-blocker -- the best RB I've ever studied in that area -- and a reliable weapon as a pass-catcher.

At pick No. 23, McShay believes the Minnesota Vikings will select Darron Lee. He believes a young linebacker, who could still use some time to develop certain areas of his game while making plays in specific situations, could be what the Vikings need at this spot.

“A former high school quarterback, Lee is a terrific athlete and a natural playmaker, racking up 27.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 3 INTs and 3 forced fumbles over his past two seasons,” says McShay.

One pick later and the Cincinnati Bengals are welcoming a Buckeye to southern Ohio. McShay has the Bengals taking quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller with the 24th selection in the draft.

While McShay admits that this is a bit of a reach for Cincinnati, he points out the lack of receiving weapons after A.J. Green and Miller has the ability to make something happen at a moment’s notice.

He was the best pure athlete

Miller's stock has rocket after the Senior Bowl
Photo by Dan Harker

on the field during Senior Bowl practices, dazzling in agility drills and one-on-ones,” McShay writes of Miller. “His precise route-running ability is not indicative of a player who has been playing the position full time for less than a year.”

Make it three in a row for the Scarlet and Gray as McShay has another OSU player going next. This time it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers who he believes will select cornerback Eli Apple at pick No. 25.

“With good length (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and top-end speed, Apple showed he could turn and run with Notre Dame speedster  Will Fuller during the Fiesta Bowl,” he says. “He's also a strong tackler and run supporter, which are qualities the Steelers value highly in their defensive backs.

The NFL teams then took a break and gave some other programs a chance to have their players selected. The next Buckeye is all the way down at No. 28, as safety Vonn Bell goes to the Kansas City Chiefs.

With nine career interceptions, Bell displays great instincts and range in coverage,” McShay writes. “He's an aggressive and tough run defender who had remarkable durability, playing in all 42 Ohio State games since 2013. This is an NFL-ready safety who could start for the Chiefs in Week 1.

Spence could have been another first rounder for the Buckeyes
Photo by Jim Davidson

While Bell is the final Ohio State player selected, McShay does have one other player with Scarlet and Gray ties going in the first round. One pick after Bell, McShay believes the Arizona Cardinals will select Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence.

Spence tore it up at the Senior Bowl, displaying natural speed and athleticism off the edge,” he says. “He might be the best pure pass-rusher in this draft. He's a top-15 talent -- until you factor in his off-field issues.

Those off the field issues, drug use, are what got Spence suspended indefinitely while at Ohio State and ultimately forced the transfer.

The NFL Draft won’t take place until late April and there’s still the NFL Combine plus pro days to take into account, not to mention a little thing called the Super Bowl. A lot will change before then, but it’s interesting to see how highly regarded many of Urban Meyer’s former players are at the next level.

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