Ohio State Buckeyes Making Impact in the NFL

Molly GraySenior Analyst IJuly 23, 2008

As football season approaches, talk is not only focused on college football, but also the equally loved and hated NFL. As training camps kick off, I thought I would take a look at some former Buckeyes who are currently active in the NFL.

But first, a look at some Ohio State history in the NFL draft.

There are have been over 300 Buckeyes selected in the NFL draft, with just under 70 first-round picks, and three Buckeyes selected as the first pick of the draft: Tom Cousineau was drafted to the Buffalo Bills in 1979; Dan Wilkinson was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1994; and Orlando Pace was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 1997.

Ohio State is a close second to USC for the school with the most first round draft picks. Vernon Gholston was the 67th first round Buckeye, and the 11th since Coach Jim Tressel began his reign. USC is now at 71, with the addition of four first round picks in the 2008 Draft.

In the 2004 NFL Draft, 14 Buckeyes were drafted, which became a record number for any school in a single draft. Among those drafted in 2004 were Will Smith and Michael Jenkins.

The most recently drafted include 2007 first round picks Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez, fifth round Heisman-winner Troy Smith, and of course 2008 sixth overall pick Vernon Gholston.

There have been 54 former Buckeyes to play in the Super Bowl and six former Buckeyes named to the Hall of Fame.

According to Ohiostatebuckeyes.com, there are currently 47 active Buckeyes on NFL rosters.

I would now like to highlight some of the players currently active in the NFL that have made impacts on their teams and in the league, that have come out of Ohio State. They are in no particular order.

LeCharles Bentley

Bentley was drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft by the New Orleans Saints. He started 14 games of his rookie season and was named Sports Illustrated’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team in 2002.

In his second season, Bentley started 13 games and was voted to the Pro Bowl. In 2004, Bentley returned to center, the position he played at Ohio State, and was voted an alternate to the Pro Bowl. In 2005, he earned his second Pro Bowl spot, at center, but left the Saints at the end of the season.

Bentley has played for the Cleveland Browns since leaving the Saints, but on June 11, 2008 he asked for and was granted a release from the team and has reportedly been sought after by several teams, having yet to sign with anyone.

Shawn Springs

Shawn Springs was the third overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and played with them until he was signed as a free agent to the Washington Redskins in 2004, where he has remained.

Springs was selected to the Pro Bowl during his second season in the NFL, ’98, after recording 76 tackles, seven interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns as a cornerback.

Though his time in Seattle was injury-ridden, Springs had an exceptional year in 2004 with the Redskins. Springs became the first cornerback in the NFL to lead his team in interceptions (five) and sacks (six). Springs currently plays for Washington.

Terry Glenn

Glenn was drafted seventh overall in the 1996 draft by the New England Patriots. His six touchdowns during his first season helped the Pats reach the Super Bowl that year. Glenn recorded 90 receptions over his rookie year, which at the time was the most ever recorded in a single season by an NFL rookie.

Glenn now plays for the Dallas Cowboys and has had recurring knee problems, causing him to miss the first fifteen games of the 2007 season. However, Glenn seems to be recovering and is on the brink of renewing his contract with the Cowboys.

Dan Wilkinson

Wilkinson was selected as the first overall pick of the 1994 Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, becoming the franchise’s first ever No. 1 draft pick. During his rookie season with the Bengals, he led the team with 19 quarterback hurries, and had a season-high seven tackles against the Indianapolis Colts.

Wilkinson had a breakout season in 1996, when he started the season with eight tackles, a sack and five quarterback hurries against he St. Louis Rams. That year he led the team in sacks with 6.5, and led the defensive line with 44 solo tackles.

Wilkinson also was successful at the Washington Redskins, leading the team in sacks and quarterback pressures several different seasons. He has also played with the Detroit Lions and currently the Miami Dolphins.

Joey Galloway

Galloway was drafted eight overall in the 1995 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He made an immediate impact for the Seahawks, setting franchise season records for a rookie with 67 receptions, 1,039 receiving yards and three 100-yard games. In 1997 and 1998, he finished with 12 touchdowns and 10 touchdowns respectively.

After a few injury-ridden years with the Dallas Cowboys, Galloway had the best season of his career in 2005 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught a career high 83 passes for 1,287 yards and 10 touchdowns. Galloway currently plays for Tampa Bay.

Will Smith

Smith was selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints and has played with them ever since.

In 2006, Smith’s first season as a full-time starter, he was selected to the Pro Bowl. Thus far in his four-year career, Smith has played in 62 games, recorded 33.5 sacks, 156 solo tackes, and 13 forced fumbles. During his rookie season he recorded a team-high six forced fumbles.

In 2008, Smith resigned his contract with the Saints for a six-year, $70 million deal, making him the third highest paid defensive end in the NFL.

Ted Ginn Jr.

Ginn was one of eight Buckeyes drafted in the 2007 draft. He went ninth overall to the Miami Dolphins. Against his hometown Browns in Week 6, Ginn had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty, it would have been the first touchdown of his career. He proceeded to notch his first career TD two weeks later against the New York Giants.

In a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ginn returned a punt 87 yards for his first TD return. The play tied for the longest punt return in franchise history. He was named Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week that week, and later was third alternate to the 2007 Pro Bowl as a kick returner.

Orlando Pace

Pace was the first overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft, selected by the St. Louis Rams. He was the first offensive lineman to be drafted first overall in 29 years. Pace's quickness of reflexes and speed are unmatched among NFL offensive linemen.

Pace has been voted to seven consecutive Pro Bowls dating back to the 1999 season, his third season in the league. He has also made appearances in Super Bowls XXXIV and XXXVI.

Pace ended the 2006 season early due to injury and was out for the entire 2007 season after re-injuring his triceps in the season opener against the Panthers.

My question to you now is, where do you see the most recent Buckeye draftees—Gholston to the New York Jets, Larry Grant to the San Francisco 49ers, and Kirk Barton to the Chicago Bears—going in their NFL future? 

This article was first published at www.buckeyecommentary.com


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