The 2013 NFL playoffs are right around the corner as players, coaches and fans wait in anticipation. While most writers are focusing on things like the chances each team might have at making it to the Super Bowl or the underdogs that might make a deep playoff run, I'm focusing on my Buckeyes.
As one of the top programs in the country, Ohio State churns out NFL talent year after year. All in all there are 33 former Buckeyes in the NFL, representing 18 of the NFL's 32 teams.
In this article, however, I will focus on just a privileged handful.
Here is the select list of former Buckeyes who start on NFL teams that made it to the playoffs in the 2012-13 season.
Years as a Buckeye: 2004-06
NFL draft: Round 1, picked No. 9 (2007)
2012 stats: 32 punt returns, 326 yards (10.2 yard AVG), 11 kickoff returns, 253 yards (23 yard AVG), 0 TDs
Storyline: Though Ginn was drafted as a wide receiver, he hasn't had much success catching footballs in his NFL career. Now he is primarily used as a return man for the 49ers.
Years as a Buckeye: 1997-2000
NFL draft: Round 1, picked No. 29 (2001)
2012 stats: 55 tackles and 1 pass deflection
Storyline: Even though Pickett has started in every game this season, he hasn't made much of an impact. He is one of the least effective players on the Packers defense.
Years as a Buckeye: 2001-04
NFL draft: Round 2, picked No. 47 (2005)
2012 stats: Made 12 out of 19 field goals (82.6 percent) with a long of 55 yards, and was a perfect 35-of-35 on extra points.
Storyline: The highest drafted kicker in the NFL since the Saints drafted Russell Erxleben (1979), Mike Nugent was highly regarded as the best college football kicker in the early 2000s. However, he's been just an average kicker thus far in his professional football career.
Years as a Buckeye: 2000-03
NFL draft: Round 1, picked No. 29 (2004)
2012 stats: 40 receptions, 449 yards (11.2 AVG), 3 TDs
Storyline: Jenkins has had a pretty average career during his tenure in the NFL, always being either second or third on his team in receptions, reception yards and touchdowns. Nevertheless, he presents a big body and sure hands for second-year quarterback Christian Ponder.
Years as a Buckeye: 2003-05
NFL draft: Round 1, picked No. 8 (2006)
2012 stats: 83 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 INT
Storyline: Whitner has had a pretty decent career as a defensive back thus far. Though he has only one interception in the 2012-13 season, he has done a good job at tracking down ball-carriers. He is fourth on his team in tackles on the year.
Years as a Buckeye: 1995-98
NFL draft: Round 1, picked No. 23 (1999)
2012 stats: 100 tackles, 3 INTs
Storyline: Despite being the smallest cornerback in the NFL, Antoine Winfield has had a long and successful career as a pro. He has led the defensive backs on his team in tackles per season eight times in his 14-year pro career, has recorded 27 career interceptions and has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl three times.
Years as a Buckeye: 2005-08
NFL draft: Undrafted
2012 stats: N/A
Storyline: If there was one word to describe Alex Boone it would be this: HUGE. A 6'8" frame is scary enough in itself, but it's even scarier that Boone fills such a frame with 312 pounds. Boone had to work hard to earn a spot on the 49ers' roster. But once they gave him a chance, he exceeded expectations and worked his way into the starting role in 2012.
Years as a Buckeye: 2002-05
NFL draft: Round 1, picked No. 5 (2006)
2012 stats: 120 tackles and 3 sacks
Storyline: A.J. Hawk has been impressive in the NFL since coming on the scene in 2006. He was a first-team All-Rookie in 2006 and has led the Packers in tackling in four of his seven years as a pro. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2010 and a Super Bowl champ in Super Bowl XLV.