Ten Ohio State players were drafted Thursday-Saturday and now embark upon their NFL careers.
It’s easy to rank the players according to respective spots where they were taken, but it’s much more difficult and more interesting to rank them by which Buckeye landed in the best situation for them to make an immediate impact.
That factors in the franchise where they landed, the players already on that team’s roster and the prospects and preparedness for immediate playing time.
So, from 10 (toughest) to 1 (best), here’s who starts in the best situation and who has the toughest sledding ahead:
Damon Arnette, CB, 1st Round, Las Vegas Raiders
Getting overdrafted is great on draft night, because it means you’re going to get paid more than you expected. It’s not great any day after that — other than pay-day, because you become the guy on the wrong end of, “We could have had (fill in the blank, overachieving best rookie) instead of you.” That’s Arnette’s fate in Las Vegas, which also isn’t exactly a place free from distractions for a young guy with lots of money in his pocket. Oh, and Arnette is also the guy the Raiders took with the first-round pick they received from the Chicago Bears for Khalil Mack. So he has that pressure, too. Arnette will start immediately, and if he produces will be fine. But NFL officials might not put up with his grabby style of coverage that he employed in college.
Jordan Fuller, S, 6th Round, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams needed to rebuild their safety depth after Eric Weddle’s retirement, so Fuller will have a roster spot if he can make an impact on special teams. LA also took a safety in round three, and has both its starting safeties back, so there’s no avenue for much playing time in the normal defensive rotation.
K.J. Hill, WR, 7th Round, Los Angeles Chargers
How Ohio State’s career leader in receptions could last until the seventh round offended many Buckeye fans. That’s understandable, because Hill had no trouble getting open at OSU, or making big plays at crunch time. His slow 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine hurt him in the draft, and while he landed on the team with the sweetest uniforms and in the market with the absolute best weather, he also fell to one of the most-questionable quarterback situations in the league. In veteran Tyrod Taylor and rookie (No. 6 overall) Justin Herbert, the Chargers are anything but set at the most important position on the field. Fans were hoping for a speed guy to balance Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, neither of whom is a burner. Neither is Hill, but he can get open…provided San Diego has anyone capable of getting him the ball.
Jashon Cornell, DE, 7th Round, Detroit Lions
The Lions have only one established defensive end in Trey Flowers. Cornell will have a chance to impress a defensive-oriented head coach in Matt Patricia. Cornell will also have former OSU teammate Jeff Okudah there to support him. Detroit took no other defensive ends and only one other defensive lineman — a defensive tackle in the sixth round. An opportunity is there to make the team.
Malik Harrison, LB, 3rd Round, Baltimore Ravens
Harrison will have an uphill climb to start, since Baltimore took LSU inside linebacker Patrick Queen in the first round, 28th overall. Maybe that will turn out to Harrison’s advantage. Because less will be expected of him, whatever he gives will get magnified. He’ll certainly have a role on special teams and is going to a great organization that rewards hard work.
Jonah Jackson, 3rd Round Detroit Lions
Jackson is a very good player and likely a multi-year career guy. When he was taken, Detroit seemed the perfect spot, given its need at guard. Then the Lions took Kentucky’s Logan Stenberg in the next round. Stenberg is 6-6, which is tall for a guard, so Jackson may have the edge. But it means he will face stiff competition in training camp for the starting spot that usually falls to a third-rounder on a bad team.
Chase Young, DE, 1st Round, Washington Redskins
As the No. 2 overall pick, Young will start immediately. His job is not complicated: get the quarterback. So there’s no scheme adjustment or much athletic adjustment like Okudah will face on the outside at cornerback. Young’s issue will be meeting expectations, not just as the No. 2 pick, but given the grading scale Joey and Nick Bosa established in their rookie years in the NFL. Both Bosa brothers went to teams on the cusp of winning. That doesn’t appear to be Washington’s immediate future. Both Bosa brothers went to teams with other quality defensive talent around them. That also doesn’t appear true with Young. He’s likely to see more double-teams than either Bosa faced as a rookie. Young also will have to manage the challenge of playing very close to where he went to high school in Maryland, which can introduce distractions and difficulties.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, 2nd Round, Baltimore Ravens
Dobbins is undoubtedly disappointed he didn’t go in Round One and that he went after several other running backs, but few landing spots could be better. He gets a run-oriented offense with Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson to take the attention off him, and he gets an offensive coordinator in Greg Roman who knows how to scheme the run. Dobbins will get the “fresh” carries after Ingraham wears out the defense, which puts Dobbins in a great position to succeed.
Davon Hamilton, DT, 3rd Round, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags No. 1 draft need was defensive line and Hamilton was the only interior defensive lineman they selected. Overall, the Jags had a draft that’s getting glowing marks, so not only is Hamilton positioned to play right away, he might also have landed on a comeback team that was dreadful last season, but played in the AFC title game the season before. As a third-round pick, you can’t ask for more.
Jeff Okudah, CB, 1st Round, Detroit Lions
Okudah walks in as a starter to replace Darius Slay, the team’s best cornerback, who left in free agency. If he doesn’t start, it’s because Okudah is lost or because he gets injured. There couldn’t be a better platform from which to launch an NFL career.
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