NCAA Football, NFL Playoffs

Could a team of Ohio State alums make the NFL playoffs?

Could a superteam made up of active Ohio State alums in the NFL lead their team to the NFL playoffs? Let’s check out the roster and assess their chances.

No team has had more players picked in the NFL Draft since 2000 than the Ohio State Buckeyes. Coaches change, players change, but the results stay the same. The Buckeyes win a ton of games and then those players go to the NFL where they become difference-makers.

Of the 131 draft picks since 2000, 31 of them were first round picks and 13 developed into Pro Bowl players. Imagine if those Ohio State alums were able to form a Buckeye superteam and compete in the NFL. Forgetting about salary cap ramifications and the depth of a 53-man roster, could an Ohio State superteam make the NFL playoffs?

Let’s check out the roster and assess their place in the NFL.

Ohio State superteam offense

  • QB: Dwayne Haskins
  • RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Carlos Hyde
  • WR: Michael Thomas, Curtis Samuel
  • TE: Nick Vannett
  • LT: Taylor Decker
  • LG: Andrew Norwell
  • C: Corey Linsley
  • RG: Pat Elflein
  • RT: Jamarco Jones

At first glance, the offense is led by a pair of All-Pro players with running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver, Michael Thomas. Opposing defenses would have to pick their poison whether to load up the box to try and slow Elliott or if they want to double or bracket Thomas and leave room for Elliott to run wild against the front seven.

Dwayne Haskins is entering his rookie season but as a first round pick coming off a Heisman finalist season, expectations are high for him. In this scenario, he can rely on Elliott to take a lot of pressure off him, just as he’s done for Dak Prescott with the Dallas Cowboys. When he’s in trouble, he can rely on Thomas as his security blanket. If the defense wants to send pressure to rattle the young signal-caller, he can find Thomas as a safety valve and let him work his magic with the ball in his hands.

Curtis Samuel is waiting to break out with the Carolina Panthers, and he gets the role opposite Thomas. He has great speed and is versatile enough where he can work underneath routes and get matched up against linebackers. Tight end isn’t a strength for the passing game with Nick Vannett on the team, but he is an asset in the run game as an in-line blocker. He can be a surprising target near the goal line but he’ll be asked to work as a sixth offensive lineman in this scenario.

The offensive line is solid with Taylor Decker, former All-Pro Andrew Norwell at left guard and a pair of former All-Rookie selections in Pat Elflein and Corey Linsley. The latter two are both centers but Elflein kicks over to right guard here. Jamarco Jones is an unproven rookie but should be protected by the other four to his left. He will be helped by Vannett in pass protection so he’s not matched up against Khalil Mack or Von Miller by himself.

Overall, the offense has two potential All-Pros with Elliott and Thomas who could lead the NFL in rushing and receiving, respectively. Ultimately, the development of Haskins will determine how far this team can go. But the defense is a strength that will help his cause.

Ohio State superteam defense

  • DE: Joey Bosa
  • DT: Cameron Heyward
  • DT: Johnathan Hankins
  • DE: Nick Bosa
  • LB: Darron Lee
  • LB: Raekwon McMillan
  • LB: Jerome Baker
  • CB: Denzel Ward
  • FS: Malcolm Jenkins
  • SS: Vonn Bell
  • CB: Marshon Lattimore

Good luck scoring on this defense.

The Bosa Bros. occupy the edges where both should notch double-digit sacks. This is one of the best edge rusher duos in the league and they are both ascending young talents. Cameron Heyward provides a strong veteran presence where he’ll have to play in the interior in a four-man front after excelling in the Steelers odd front for his entire career. Johnathan Hankins has quietly had four really solid seasons over the last five years for the Giants. The defensive tackle will control the nose, and while he isn’t a great pass rusher, he won’t need to worry about that with Nick and Joey Bosa on the edge and Heyward next to him.

Ohio State has had a number of great linebackers through the years, but not all of the college stars have found their success following them from Columbus to the NFL. Even in the case of Darron Lee, a former first round pick who is on his second team on his rookie deal. Raekwon McMillan is one of the building blocks for the Dolphins and is coming off a 105-tackle rookie season in 2018. McMillan’s teammate with Miami, Jerome Baker, is another young, ascending player. Is he poised to be a future All-Pro? Probably not. But in this defense, with the line in front of him, and the secondary backing him up, Baker and the entire linebacker crew, just need to play smart, and keep the play in front of them. They can do that.

As great as the defensive line is with the Bosa Bros, the secondary is why Ohio State is the real DBU, not LSU or Florida. No team has a better pair of cornerbacks than the duo of Denzel Ward and 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Marshon Lattimore. While most teams hope to have one shutdown corner if they’re lucky, the Ohio State superteam has two. At safety, veteran and three-time Pro Bowler, Malcolm Jenkins is a leader on the back end, who can still play at a high level. He’s a team captain and would be a valuable asset for Vonn Bell to pick up the nuances and tricks of the position. This would be the best secondary in the NFL and coupled with the defensive line, this could contend for the honors of the NFL’s best defense.

Could an Ohio State superteam make the NFL playoffs?

Not only do I think this Ohio State superteam make the NFL playoffs, but I think this team could win a game or two in the playoffs. I will curb my enthusiasm and stop short of calling this superteam a Super Bowl favorite, but I think it could make noise in the postseason.

The offense behind Elliott and Thomas is dangerous and I’m a big believer in what Haskins can do and be in the NFL. They will score a lot of points and the defense will keep teams from scoring a lot of points because they can rush the passer and stop the pass. The linebacker trio doesn’t have a lot of star power compared to the line and secondary, but it’s more than capable of standing tall in the run game and has the speed to counter offenses when they go three-wide.

Next: Ranking every FBS team from 1-130

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