Ohio State plays Michigan State Saturday in a game that has major College Football Playoff implications and gives Michigan State senior quarterback Connor Cook, who decided last winter to put the NFL on hold, his biggest challenge of the season.
The NFL knows about plenty of players on the Ohio State side, too. Five players from Ohio State’s 2014-15 national championship team were drafted last spring, and that many Buckeyes could be drafted in the first round next year.
Ohio State has credentialed 19 NFL scouts representing 17 teams for Saturday’s game, including Bears general manager Ryan Pace. Among the other teams scheduled to send representatives are the Lions, Browns, Titans and Chargers, all of which would own early picks in the 2016 NFL Draft if the season ended today.
Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa is No. 1 in the latest CBSSports.com 2016 draft rankings, and Cook is No. 11. Also in the top 32 are Michigan State junior offensive tackle Jack Conklin and five other Ohio State players: Junior running back Ezekiel Elliott, senior offensive tackle Taylor Decker, senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, junior wide receiver Michael Thomas and redshirt sophomore linebacker Darron Lee.
Asked earlier this week if he anticipates Saturday’s game being the last game in Ohio Stadium for a lot of Ohio State’s juniors, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said, “not a lot, but I would imagine a few.”
Earlier this week NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah polled five anonymous NFL executives about Bosa, and they compared Bosa to Jared Allen, Chris Long and Michael Strahan.
On ESPN Insider, Mel Kiper ranks Ohio State underclassmen Bosa, Eliiott, Lee, Thomas, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Pat Elflein among the top 10 prospects at their respective positions.