The 10 Buckeyes selected in the 2020 NFL Draft were Ohio State’s most since 2016, and marked the third time since 2000 that Ohio State has had double-digit players picked.
It was no surprise that defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah went No. 2 and No. 3 at the top of the draft, giving Ohio State the lead over USC in all-time first-round draft picks, but some were shocked that cornerback Damon Arnette’s name was called early in the first round at pick No. 19.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day was not one of them.
“I was more surprised that leading up to it people had projected him into the second round,” Day said on a teleconference Sunday. “I think when you look at his body of work, his versatility and the fact that you’re getting a fifth-year senior –– he’s played a lot of football.”
Day said Arnette’s maturity and the toughness he displayed playing through a broken hand for most of the season helped prove that he’s “definitely a first-round talent,” and that’s where the Las Vegas Raiders took him Thursday.
Returning for a fifth year of eligibility proved beneficial for Arnette’s draft stock, but that wasn’t the case for Ohio State all-time receptions leader K.J. Hill, who dropped to the final round of the draft Saturday. Day said Hill’s slide was confusing and frustrating to watch.
“K.J Hill, that one I don’t understand,” Day said. “Going into the seventh round, you see so many guys drafted before him. All he does is get open, catch the ball, make great plays and is the most productive wide receiver in Ohio State history.”
Hill was the second and final offensive skill player to be selected from Ohio State, with the Buckeyes’ single-season rushing record-holder J.K. Dobbins going No. 55 to the Baltimore Ravens in the second round.
“There’s a lot of teams that, if they were drafting a running back, probably would’ve taken him sooner,” Day said.
Former Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison joined Dobbins on the Ravens with a third-round selection, but Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh –– brother of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh –– said Dobbins was too talented to pass on.
“I didn’t love the school he comes from, but I liked everything else about him,” John Harbaugh said in an ESPN interview during the draft Saturday. “He was right there, probably our top-rated running back. There was all those running backs at the top of the draft –– just such an explosive downhill runner, he had lateral cut ability, tough tackle.”
Dobbins and Harrison won’t be the only Buckeyes to remain teammates at the next level. Drafted to the Washington Redskins, Young will reunite with 2019 Ohio State draftees Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin.
In Detroit, Okudah will be joined by offensive lineman Jonah Jackson –– drafted in the third round –– and defensive tackle Jashon Cornell, who the Lions picked in round seven.
The other two Buckeyes picked in the draft were defensive lineman DaVon Hamilton, who was selected with the No. 73 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and safety Jordan Fuller, who was taken by the Los Angeles Rams in the sixth round.
A slew of other Buckeye hopefuls were swept up in free agency following the draft, as wide receivers Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor both signed with the New York Giants. Offensive lineman Branden Bowen signed with the Carolina Panthers, tight end Rashod Berry with the New England Patriots and long snapper Liam McCullough with the Las Vegas Raiders.
But Day said all that any of his former players need is a chance to get on the field.
“All these guys need are opportunities, and they all kind of have the same opportunity,” Day said.