How does Ohio State's 2016 draft class stack up against Miami's 2004 group?
With all the mock drafts that have come out in recent weeks, there’s been one constant.
There are a whole lot of Buckeyes projected to go in the first round.
Some even believe that they can best the 2004 Miami (FL) mark of six players selected in the first 32 picks. Think about that. That’s nearly 1/3 of a starting lineup going off the board in the first 31 picks (New England forfeited its 2016 first-round pick because of Deflategate).
It would be an incredible accomplishment if it happened. We’re still two months away from finding out if that will happen, but some will claim that no matter what, Miami’s draft was more impressive. Some will even claim that the record 14 Buckeyes that were drafted that year was even better.
There’s a chance that this year’s group will break both of those records. That would make for the greatest draft for a school ever. That isn’t to say that Ohio State is destined to have the most successful draft class of all time. It’s far too early to know that. The claim is limited to draft day(s).
Let’s take a closer look at what this year’s Ohio State group is up against:
2004 Miami (FL) first-round draft picks
- 5. Sean Taylor*
- 6. Kellen Winslow II*
- 12. Jonathan Vilma*
- 17. D.J. Williams
- 19. Vernon Carey
- 21. Vince Wilfork*
*made Pro Bowl
A couple of things stand out when looking at that group. For starters, six players in the first 21 picks is just absurd. That four of them turned into Pro Bowl players is even more absurd.
Ohio State’s chances of matching Miami’s top-heavy selections. Joey Bosa, Taylor Decker, Ezekiel Elliott and Darron Lee could go in the top 21 and frankly, that would be an incredible accomplishment. The thought of two more guys like Eli Apple, Mike Thomas, Braxton Miller or Vonn Bell sneaking in the top 21 isn’t crazy, but it would be surprising. Having said that, all eight of those players have appeared in the first rounds of mock drafts, so there’s a chance.
Even if Ohio State only had five players fall off the board in the first round, it still might be in position to trump Miami. Why? The Hurricanes, while they had an unprecedented crop of talent selected in the first round, didn’t have another player drafted until the middle of the seventh round.
This year’s Ohio State group certainly has more middle-round depth.
Nick Vannett and Adolphus Washington both figure to be Day 2 selections, as well. That would give Ohio State 10 draft picks before the likes of Cardale Jones, Jalin Marshall, Joshua Perry and Tyvis Powell — all of whom could also be middle round picks— go off the board.
There’s your 14. It would come as a surprise if any one of those players went undrafted.
If Jacoby Boren and Chase Farris impress at their pro days, they could break the mark set by the 2004 Ohio State draft class.
Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at that group’s selections:
- 18. Will Smith*
- 28. Chris Gamble
- 29. Michael Jenkins
- 68. Ben Hartsock
- 74. Tim Anderson
- 87. B.J. Sander
- 88. Darrion Scott
- 100. Alex Stepanovich
- 111. Will Allen
- 148. Craig Krenzel
- 163. Drew Carter
- 165. Rob Reynolds
- 209. Shane Olivea
- 227. Adrien Clarke
*made Pro Bowl
Historically, that might not be viewed as a better draft class than Miami’s considering Smith, the Buckeyes’ first selection, was the only Pro Bowl player of the group. Ohio State also only had three players selected in the first two rounds, none of whom were selected in the top half of the first round.
On paper, Miami’s draft was more memorable. That was the final year of a four-year run in which Miami had at least four players selected in the first round. Ohio State obviously can’t touch that this year and perhaps no team ever will.
But in many respects, the 2016 Ohio State draft class can relate to Miami’s 2004 group.
Both were known for helping get their respective programs back on their feet after NCAA sanctions. Both groups experienced a national title and dealt with massive preseason expectations to repeat, only to fall short. They finished their careers winning a top-flight bowl game against a traditional power, but both viewed it as a letdown given the talent on the field.
The parallels are there. Will Ohio State’s 2016 draft class be viewed in the same historical light as 2004 Miami? That remains to be seen. All we know now is that conversation is worth having.
And it isn’t quieting in the next two months.