5 B1G observations from the first 3 rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft
The first two days and three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft are in the books.
So far, 17 former B1G players have heard their names called and there’s already been plenty of interesting situations. There have been some surprising selections, a few players slipped below their projections and a handful of others are still on the board.
We still have one day and four rounds remaining until this year’s draft concludes. Before we enter that final day, though, let’s take a look at some of the B1G takeaways from the first two days of the NFL Draft.
It’s been a really good year for Ohio State’s defense
Let’s be honest, it’s been a good year for Ohio State in general. But the Buckeye defense has had an especially strong showing through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft with five players being selected within the top 100 picks. That’s just the simple explanation as to why this has been such a solid draft for the OSU defense.
Not only did Ohio State produce the most talented player in this year’s draft in defensive end Chase Young, it also had two more defensive backs get selected in the first round — Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette. With those two getting chosen on Thursday night, the Buckeyes have now upped their total of first-round defensive backs to eight since the 2014 NFL Draft. No other program has more than three selections in that same time period.
Ohio State has essentially locked up the title of “DB U.”
There’s also been some diversity when it comes to the position groups Ohio State is sending to the next level. With Davon Hamilton (No. 73) and Malik Harrison (No. 98) being selected in the third round, the Buckeyes have seen two cornerbacks, one defensive end, one defensive tackle and one linebacker get picked in this year’s draft.
What’s the bottom line? If you’re on the defensive side of the football at Ohio State, you’re likely to get to the next level regardless of what position you play.
Iowa has produced the second-most picks in the B1G through three rounds
After three rounds of the NFL Draft, Ohio State is leading the B1G in total selections by a fairly wide margin. Who fills the No. 2 spot for the conference? Surprisingly enough, it’s not the likes of Penn State, Michigan or even Wisconsin. Through the first 106 selections, Iowa has seen the second-highest number of players drafted in the B1G with three.
Tristan Wirfs was off the board early, taken with the 13th pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was the lone first-round selection for the Hawkeyes this year. Iowa has had one player selected in each round, though, with A.J. Epenesa going to the Buffalo Bills in the second round with the 54th pick and Michael Ojemudia getting chosen with the 77th pick in the third round by the Denver Broncos.
What’s unique about Iowa’s three selections is that they also ranged in talent levels coming into college. Epenesa was a five-star prospect, Wirfs was ranked as a four-star talent and Ojemudia was an under-recruited three-star player. Now, all three are heading to the NFL.
It should be interesting to see if Iowa can maintain its position in the No. 2 spot in the B1G or if they’ll get overtaken by one of the other three programs as the draft enters the final four rounds on Saturday.
Zack Baun’s diluted sample might’ve been a bigger deal to teams than we thought
When Adam Schefter reported that Zack Baun informed all 32 teams about his diluted sample at the NFL Scouting Combine, the ESPN insider made it sound like teams weren’t too concerned about the situation. Under the terms of the new CBA, there wouldn’t be any strikes against Baun and he’d essentially enter the league with a clean slate.
It’s hard to imagine that Baun’s diluted sample — which he attributed to drinking too much water to gain weight — didn’t have an affect on NFL teams, though. The Wisconsin linebacker was essentially a lock as a late pick in the first round, or potentially an early second-round selection. Baun fell all the way down to pick No. 74 to the New Orleans Saints in the third round.
Baun posted some big numbers in his final season at Wisconsin and had continued to trend in a positive direction in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft. For the linebacker to fall so far down in such a short time seems to indicate that there’s at least some level of concern with his situation at the combine.
Even at No. 45, Antoine Winfield Jr. could be the steal of the draft
Considering the year Antoine Winfield Jr. had at Minnesota last season, it felt like he had a legitimate shot to crack into the first round of the NFL Draft. That wasn’t the case, as the former Gopher had to wait until the middle of the second round to get the phone call. He’ll continue his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And, yes, even at No. 45 Winfield could end up being the steal of this draft.
Winfield didn’t have to wait all that long to hear his name, so it might be a bit strange to tab him as a “steal.” But his instincts are second-to-none and he’s able to make big plays even when he seems to be out of the picture. That’s how he collected 88 tackles and intercepted seven passes, earning him B1G Defensive Back of the Year honors last fall.
In a few years, a lot of teams will be kicking themselves for not selecting Winfield when they had the chance.
Josh Uche seems to be a perfect fit for New England
There aren’t a lot of players out there who wouldn’t flourish in New England. For decade, the Patriots have been the best in the league at developing talent and getting the most out of everyone on the roster. But when it comes to Josh Uche, it almost seems to be a perfect marriage.
Uche never stopped developing at Michigan and seemed to get better as the season continued — so much so that he was even turning heads at the Senior Bowl. If he’s just now beginning to scratch the surface of his talent level, New England would be the perfect franchise to utilize his skill set and develop him into a Pro Bowl player.
A lot of B1G players drafted in the first three rounds have landed in good spots to continue their careers. Uche to New England might be a match made in heaven for both sides, though.