Ohio State Football: Can Buckeyes Make NFL Draft History After Combine Takeover?

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Ohio State Football: Can Buckeyes Make NFL Draft History After Combine Takeover?
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Ohio State absolutely dominated the NFL Scouting Combine—sending a nation-leading 14 participants to Indianapolis over the weekend—and the event could be a springboard to a historic draft for the Buckeyes.

Headlined by defensive end Joey Bosa, running back Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Darron Lee, Ohio State is in prime position to carry that momentum to the NFL's biggest offseason stage.

But is head coach Urban Meyer's latest crop of next-level talent good enough to make history?

The Benchmarks

If Ohio State is to set a new benchmark in April, it'll have to shatter a record it set in 2004.

Twelve years ago, 14 players who fueled Ohio State's 2002 national title win and orchestrated a 25-2 run over two seasons were taken in the draft. The group was deep, but it wasn't top-heavy—the first Buckeye didn't come off the board until the New Orleans Saints selected defensive end Will Smith at No. 18 overall.

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Former Ohio State defensive end Will Smith

But over the course of seven rounds, the Buckeyes had selections from at least one player in every position group except running back. They even had punter B.J. Sander selected in the third round by the Green Bay Packers.

That same year, the Miami Hurricanes made history of their own by having six of their former players taken in the first round.

That team, which Ohio State beat a year-and-a-half earlier in Tempe, Arizona, for the national championship, was absolutely loaded with NFL talent. Safety Sean Taylor was the headliner at No. 5, and tight end Kellen Winslow (No. 6), linebackers Jonathan Vilma (No. 12) and D.J. Williams (No. 17), offensive tackle Vernon Carey (No. 19) and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (No. 21) all joined him on opening night.

The Prediction

With nine players deciding to leave Ohio State early and jump to the NFL, the Buckeyes have a good chance of breaking both the first-round and overall selections record for one school in a draft.

All 14 of the players who made the voyage to Indianapolis last week will be drafted. That includes quarterback Cardale Jones, whom Ohio State benched midseason in favor of J.T. Barrett. Jones' injured hamstring limited him at the combine. 

G Fiume/Getty Images
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones

Ohio State's challenge in breaking its own record for overall selections is finding one more player to squeeze into the draft.

The best possibility for that comes with Chase Farris, who struggled in his only season as a starter at right tackle in 2015. But Farris is an intriguing prospect, because he thrived when he slid inside to guard during East-West Shrine Game practices. And according to Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com, Farris' exclusion from the combine was the biggest snub among offensive linemen.

Farris will shine at Ohio State's pro day, though, and he'll earn his way into the late rounds of the draft in April—giving the Buckeyes 15 overall selections and the record.

They'll also set the benchmark for first-round supremacy. 

According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, seven former Buckeyes will go on opening night of the draft. 

Projected 1st-Round Picks for Ohio State
Player (Position) Draft Selection Team
Joey Bosa (DE) No. 6 Baltimore Ravens
Darron Lee (LB) No. 11 Chicago Bears
Michael Thomas (WR) No. 12 New Orleans Saints
Taylor Decker (OT) No. 14 Oakland Raiders
Ezekiel Elliott (RB) No. 18 Indianapolis Colts
Braxton Miller (WR) No. 24 Cincinnati Bengals
Eli Apple (CB) No. 25 Pittsburgh Steelers

via Matt Miller

Bosa will be the first Ohio State player taken and serve as the initial domino to fall in a historic draft class. 

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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