Best Big Ten Draft Class: Ohio State vs. Michigan
The rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan is never ending. Both schools have produced some outstanding NFL players. The Buckeyes rank third all-time in players drafted by NFL teams with 430 and the Wolverines are not too far behind, ranking sixth with 351. In 2016 Ohio State set a record as they had ten players drafted in the first three rounds of the draft. Michigan may look to challenge that record this year as they have 16 players who could potentially be drafted. While Michigan has the numbers, Ohio State may have more top end talent as the team has two players who are likely to be top ten picks. To truly judge who has the superior draft class deeper examination is necessary.
First Round Potential
The first player off the board from Ohio State or Michigan will likely be an Ohio State defensive back, but it is not clear which one. Both safety Malik Hooker and corner Marshon Lattimore are consensus top picks at their respective positions. Despite being a one hit wonder at Ohio State, Hooker has drawn comparisons to Ed Reed, and Lattimore is considered an elite corner talent. Fellow cornerback Gareon Conley flew up draft boards after his performance at the combine. He is also admired for his ability to play the nickel position. Hooker and Lattimore are likely top ten picks with top five potential. Conley will go top fifteen and could potentially sneak his way into the top ten.
One of the most polarizing players in this year’s draft is Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. Once heralded as a top five talent, the NFL seems confused about what to do with Peppers. Is he a linebacker? Is he a defensive back? Is he even a defensive player? For this reason, it is tough to predict where Peppers will land. Although some people feel he will fall out of the first round, it only takes one team believing in his abilities to make him a high pick. Defensive end Taco Charlton will likely be drafted somewhere in the twenties. Charlton has little experience but was a stand point player for Michigan this season. Corner Jourdan Lewis is considered by some to be one of the top corners in the draft, but by others not so much. Lewis could sneak into the first round, or he could slip out of the second. It is hard to tell.
First Round Advantage: Buckeyes
The multi-talented Curtis Samuel has many NFL teams foaming at the mouth. The Buckeyes’ H-back will be a dynamic piece of an NFL offense with his athleticism and ability to play both receivers and running back effectively. Like Samuel, Michigan defensive lineman Chris Wormley is likely to hear his name called early on the second day of the draft. Wormley is a big strong player who earns his keep more as a run stuffer than as a pass rusher.
2016 Ohio State tackle leader Raekwon McMillan will likely fall off the board on day two as well. He is an excellent run defender from the middle linebacker position. Some feel he may struggle against the pass at the next level. Michigan’s Jake Butt was once seen as the top tight end in the draft, but an ACL tear in the Orange Bowl has put up some major red flags. If his rehab goes well, the team that gets him could be pulling off a major steal.
Second and Third Round Advantage: Buckeyes
Some consider Pat Elfien to be the best center in the draft. Although he could sneak up higher, he will probably be drafted in the fourth round. Elfien is a tough mauling center who Nick Mangold and LeCharles Bentley would be proud to include in the Ohio State center fraternity.
Each team could see a speedy receiver come off the board in the mid rounds of the draft. Michigan’s Amara Darboh and Ohio State’s Noah Brown both can fly down the field and have potential to be playmakers in the NFL.
Michigan has a pair of talented defenders in defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow and corner Channing Stribling who are likely to slip as well. Glasgow is an excellent run defender but has limited ability as a pass rusher. Stribling leads the team in interceptions, but a poor 40 time coupled with a deep talent pool at corner will likely make him slip.
Fourth and Fifth Round Advantage: Wolverines
Michigan has a trio of offensive linemen in tackle Erik Magnuson and guards Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden who could be good developmental picks as the draft goes on. They also have a skilled rusher in De’Veon Smith who has gotten lost in a very deep draft at that position. A pair of receivers in Michigan’s Jehu Chesson and Ohio State’s Dontra Wilson could also hear their names called late in the draft.
Ohio State punter Cameron Johnson may be the best in the draft at his position, but he will most likely be selected in the later rounds if at all. Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas should become the fourth and fifth players out of Michigan’s secondary drafted before all is said and done, and Michigan middle backer Ben Gedeon will likely be drafted late as well.
Sixth and Seventh Round Advantage: Wolverines
When you look at it round by round, the advantage has to go to the Buckeyes. While Michigan has the numbers, Ohio State has more top tier prospects. Regarding draft talent, this is an excellent year for the Big Ten. The Buckeyes provide the most top rated picks, while the Wolverines provide the greatest depth.