COLUMBUS — Ohio State isn’t going to dominate the first round of the NFL Draft this year.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of Buckeyes taken off the board, though. ESPN draft gurus Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. released their latest three-round mock draft on Tuesday afternoon. With nearly a week to go before the draft opens next Thursday, Kiper and McShay alternated picks and projected five Ohio State products will be picked in the top three rounds.
As of now, all indications show Justin Fields will be the only Buckeyes player taken in the opening two rounds, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the third overall pick. Just last week, Kiper had Fields sliding to New England and being the fifth quarterback drafted in the first round. This week, he’s the third overall player and third quarterback picked.
Kiper and McShay only have Fields representing Ohio State in the top two rounds in Tuesday’s mock draft. But they do have three Buckeyes drafted in a late-third round barrage. First, Wyatt Davis going to the New York Jets at No. 86, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting Shaun Wade with the 87th pick. The Los Angles Rams are projected to use their 89th pick to grab Pete Werner, finishing off the run.
Josh Myers is the final Ohio State product projected to be taken in the top three rounds, drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with the 104th pick.
The bigger story after Fields is drafted, however, is who goes after him? Despite having 14 players invited to the NFL Combine this year — the most of any school — the odds are strong the Buckeyes will probably only see one player taken in the top two rounds of the NFL Draft for the first time since 2015.
A large reason why is because Chris Olave returned to Columbus for another season.
“Well [Chris] Olave went back,” Kiper said on a conference call last Thursday. “Chris Olave would’ve gone pretty high. And Chris Olave went back for another year. And certainly Thayer Munford went back for another year as well and [Haskell] Garrett, defense tackle, went back for another year. So, you had that also happened. … Chris Olave decided to go back.”
Where everything ends up falling is unknown. Fields could slide down the board on draft night, or he could shock some and land in San Francisco.
After Fields goes early in the first round, the next Ohio State player picked is far from certain. Anyone’s bet could be right.