Selling The Shield
This week's This and That: free advertising for the Buckeyes, can this team do anything right?, an Ohio pay-for-play team finally gets it, more for the Class of '19.
How To Sell Your Program Without Trying
Seven Ohio State players were taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, which took place over three days and ended Saturday evening. Seven players Meyer can use as examples of what can happen to any player Ohio State is recruiting, because those recently drafted players were just like those high school kids at one time; teenagers with hopes and dreams of playing in the NFL. Coaches at any of the Power 5 programs "sell the shield" (take a look at the NFL logo) to any potential recruit. The more players you have drafted, the more examples you have available to try to persuade a starry-eyed teenager. Don't get me wrong, coaches, also, tell these kids what their university can do for them. There's academics, job and business connections, etc. But, don't think for a second four and five-star recruits aren't looking down the road at, someday, getting paid to play.
The Buckeyes had another cornerback drafted in the first round. Denzel Ward became the fifth in the last five years. Billy Price, taken by Cincinnati in the first round, is the third center drafted in the last five years and second in two years; both of the others (Corey Linsley and Pat Elflein) were day one starters in the NFL. All three of the draft eligible "Rushmen" defensive ends (Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes) were chosen. If you're a high school senior, who plays one of those positions and you're being recruited by the Buckeyes, are your ears going to perk up when you hear that? You bet you're going to give more consideration to a program with a proven track record of moving players along like that.
Having a lot of players drafted doesn't necessarily guarantee recruiting success. Last year Michigan had eleven players taken, but were able to convince only one Top 100 player to sign with them this past recruiting cycle. On the field success is another large component of recruiting. The Buckeyes are in the middle of the Big Ten and playoff races year in and year out; the Wolverines third and fourth place finishes, since Harbaugh arrived, are not impressing high-profile recruits.
The Buckeyes led the Big Ten and were tied for second nationally for the most drafted players. In the last five years, they and Alabama have had the most players taken in the first round with 12. No other Big Ten school is in the top 10 (Ya hear that Blue & White?). Here's a look at which Ohio State players heard their name called:
Denzel Ward-Cleveland, 1st round (4th overall)
Billy Price-Cincinnati, 1st round (21st overall)
Jerome Baker-Miami, 2nd round
Tyquan Lewis-Indianapolis, 2nd round
Sam Hubbard-Cincinnati, 3rd round
Jalyn Holmes-Minnesota, 4th round
Jamarco Jones-Seattle, 5th round
Undrafted free agents:
J.T. Barrett-New Orleans
Rookie minicamp invite:
It isn't surprising to me at all Tennessee signed Webb, a safety, and a special teams ace like Goins. Before he left a few months ago to join the Titans' staff, Kerry Coombs was Urban Meyer's cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator. Keep an eye on Goins; he showed blazing speed at the school's pro day and is known for the reckless way he gets down the field on kickoffs.
I'm pleasantly surprised to see Nick Seme get invited to the Browns' rookie minicamp. Seme was a walk on transfer from Ashland, who played just one season for the Buckeyes. While he saw action at defensive end late in blowouts last season, he's trying to make it as a long snapper with Cleveland.
Shock And AHHHHHH No
My reaction, when the Browns selected Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, with the first overall pick, was stunned disbelief, at first, then it became outrage. I could not believe they could have taken any player available. ANY PLAYER! Yet, they chose someone who is under-sized, immature, cocky and who most believe will be a colossal bust. The Browns' brain trust universally agreed Mayfield wasn't just the best quarterback in the draft, he was BY FAR the best in the draft. I'm not going to argue his stats, because he was extremely accurate and he didn't turn the ball over. But, he played in a league (Big XII) which, after Mayfield was taken first, did not have another player drafted until the 50th pick and did not have many defensive players taken throughout the entire seven rounds. To me, that says a lot about the foundation most of those stats were built on. Before you say it, yes, I know he picked apart Ohio State last season. However, keep in mind, other than his new Cleveland teammate Denzel Ward, the Buckeyes' secondary couldn't cover a dead body with a sheet early last season. The other top quarterbacks in this draft all had their issues and the people who believe in Mayfield REALLY believe in him. I've heard and read many say the same thing, "You have no idea how good this guy is." Ok, if you say so, but I don't see it right now.
Do you know how, sometimes, one small thing can change the way you feel? While I was gathering up napkins and straws at my local Wendy's over the weekend, I overheard a Steeler fan running his mouth about how much the Browns and Mayfield suck. He was having a grand time telling anyone who would listen what a disaster the entire situation is. At that point, I became a huge fan of Baker Mayfield and hope he walks the straight and narrow, and becomes an absolute super star. Trust me, as much as I did not like him, I still wanted him to be successful, because it would mean the Browns are successful. But, after listening to THAT guy, I hope Mayfield goes on to have a hall of fame career. Funny how one small thing can change the way you look at things.
With their other first round pick, they took the aforementioned Denzel Ward instead of defensive end Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State. I’m not a fan of Ward walking out on his teammates and not playing in the Cotton Bowl, but I’ve made my feelings known in other blogs, so I won’t rehash them. But, those issues aside, I do think Ward will help the Browns. They are a team in desperate need of help in the secondary where there is a decided lack of speed.
As for the rest of the Browns’ draft, I think it is a mixed bag. I like Austin Corbett, who they took with the first pick of the second round. He’s a versatile offensive lineman from Nevada, who should provide immediate help. Running back Nick Chubb from Georgia, also taken in the second round, is someone I really like. If his knees hold up, he’s a very nice addition to their backfield. In the fifth round, they took Genard Avery, a run-stopping middle linebacker from Memphis.
On the other hand, they took Chad Thomas, a defensive end from Miami, who is considered a reach. He’s not a natural pass rusher, who some question his commitment to football because of a budding career as a music producer. But, the most questionable move has to be trading up in the fourth round to take Antonio Callaway, a receiver from Florida. He’s extremely talented, but comes with more baggage than a Samsonite warehouse. Credit card theft and failing his drug test at the NFL Combine are just a few of the issues.
Finally Getting It Right
I don’t think Ohio’s other NFL team “bungled” the draft. The Bengals needed offensive line help, so they took center Billy Price with the 21st pick of the first round. We all know what Price did for the Buckeyes. He’ll be a day one starter in Cincinnati. In the third round, they took defensive end Sam Hubbard, who will help their pass rush. They, also, signed linebacker Chris Worley as a free agent. That makes three former Buckeyes going to training training camp. So nice to finally see one of Ohio’s NFL teams get it right and stock up on Buckeyes.
I like this draft for them and think they did a solid job. They needed secondary help and got a free safety and two cornerbacks. One of the worst offensive lines in football got help with Price and guard Rod Taylor of Mississippi. They added weapons to the offense. Mark Walton of Miami (Fla) is small, quick and should be an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Wide receiver Auden Tate of Florida State did not have a good combine, but is more “football fast” than straight line speed. At 6-5 and 225 pounds, he gives quarterback Andy Dalton another big target.
A Sonic Boom!
Sunday night five-star receiver Garrett Wilson from Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas gave the Buckeyes’ 2019 recruiting class their biggest commitment yet. He's the number five receiver and number 29 player overall, in the 2019 recruiting class. Wilson, 6-0 and 185 pounds, was a teammate of current Buckeye quarterback Matthew Baldwin, an early enrollee. Although he did most of his growing up in the shadow of the Texas Longhorns' program, he's a native of Dublin, Ohio and has never forgotten the enthusiasm of Buckeye fans. Because the Buckeyes will lose three of their top six receivers after this season, with the possibility of a fourth, if K.J. Hill decides to leave early, bringing in a player the caliber of Wilson is huge.
6-4, 225 pound Cade Stover, an outside linebacker from Lexington, Ohio, also committed to the Buckeyes over the weekend. He's the number eight outside linebacker and the number 130 overall recruit in the country.
On Saturday afternoon the Buckeyes flipped Wisconsin commit Bryson Shaw. The 6-2, 175 pound safety from Maryland pledged to the Badgers in February, but the Buckeyes obviously like what they see in him and really went after the country's number 53 safety. For those who are wondering why the Buckeye staff went after a three-star player so hard, just take a look at former three-star recruit Thayer Munford now. He was one of the lowest rated members of the 2017 recruiting class, but is the first to earn a starting spot. Sometimes coaching staffs see things recruiting service evaluators don't. That's obviously the case here. If Urbz and his gang of coaching minions think this kid is a good fit for their program, I'm not one to question.
The commitments of Wilson, Stover and Shaw grows the Buckeye recruiting class of 2019 to nine.
No news yet on the quarterback situation. I'm not going to write endless speculative pieces on what I think will happen. Have a great week.