Ohio State's senior class was instrumental to the 2014 run to the national championship. But there's a decent chance that no Buckeye will be taken in the first 32 picks of the NFL draft on Thursday.

Ohio State's senior class was instrumental to the 2014 run to the national championship.

Usually, that kind of success is reflected in the next year's NFL draft. In fact, the last time that no player from a national championship team was taken in the first round of the following draft came in 2003.

The national champion the previous season was the Buckeyes. The first Ohio State player taken in that draft was Michael Doss with the 58th pick by Indianapolis.

History might repeat on Thursday. There's a decent chance that no Buckeye will be taken in the first 32 picks.

Receiver Devin Smith and defensive tackle Michael Bennett are considered possibilities, but most draft projections have them going in the second round on Friday.

"I hope one of them sneaks into the first round because first-rounders get treated a little differently," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

Bennett is hardly worked up about it.

"It might be really important to fans," he said on Friday. "They always want to be able to tell people that their school had a bunch of first-rounders. In the grand scheme of things, it's completely unimportant."

He knows that success in the NFL isn't determined by when players are taken. Bennett pointed out that seven Buckeyes started for NFL teams as rookies last year. Some, such as Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Andrew Norwell, weren't even drafted.

In addition to Bennett and Smith, tight end Jeff Heuerman and cornerback Doran Grant are considered givens to be drafted next weekend, the latter two probably in the middle rounds. Receiver Evan Spencer could be a late-round pick. Linebacker Curtis Grant and offensive lineman Darryl Baldwin are likely free agents.

Bennett described the 2014 Buckeyes draft class - no Ohio State underclassmen declared - as being heavier on leadership qualities than raw talent.

"We have guys who know how to get the job done and know how to win rather than guys that you look at and say, 'Those guys are physical freaks,'" Bennett said.

The NFL always looks for physical freaks. With his speed and body control, Smith comes the closest to fitting that bill. But Smith has been

pigeon-holed by some NFL analysts as a superb deep threat but not a complete receiver.

"He's not a guy a lot of people are talking about, but I think he's a guy a lot of people will talk about once he gets to the National Football League," said ESPN analyst Bill Polian, formerly the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills. "I really like him. Wherever he's drafted, he's going to come in and make a team and play pretty well."

Bennett is considered an undersized defensive tackle who will have to play in the right system to flourish.

"He's really a great prospect as a three-technique," Polian said. "He's athletic enough. He gets up the field. He's obviously smart. He's a hardworking kid. It doesn't matter where you draft him. He's going to get on your football team and you're going to like him. We would have loved to have had him on our defense with the Colts."

Heuerman's senior season was hindered by injuries, which have hurt his draft stock. But he's an effective blocker who has the ability to be a factor in the passing game.

The leader of the Buckeyes' improved secondary, Doran Grant has good speed and toughness, but there are questions about his fluidity.

What happens this weekend is likely to be just a hint of what could happen next year for the Buckeyes, as was the case with their previous national championship. In the 2004 draft, three Ohio State players who were crucial in the 2002 title were taken in the first round - Will Smith, Chris Gamble and Michael Jenkins. Four more were taken in the third round.

Next year could be a Buckeyes bonanza. Joey Bosa figures to be a lock as a high first-round pick. Ezekiel Elliott, Adolphus Washington, Darron Lee, Vonn Bell, Joshua Perry, Michael Thomas and Taylor Decker compose an incomplete list of candidates, not to mention whoever is chosen to play quarterback.

"Next year will probably be a pretty big first-round class," Bennett said.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com


From No. 1 to first round

A list of first-round draft picks from recent national championship teams:

2013: Florida State

28. WR Kelvin Benjamin Panthers

2012: Alabama

9. DB Dee Milliner Jets

10. OL Chance Warmack Titans

11. OL D.J. Fluker Chargers

2011: Alabama

3. RB Trent Richardson Browns

7. DB Mark Barron Buccaneers

17. DB Dre Kirkpatrick Bengals

2010: Auburn

1. QB Cam Newton Panthers

13. DT Nick Fairley Lions

2009: Alabama

8. LB Rolando McClain Raiders

20. DB Kareem Jackson Texans

2008: Florida

22. WR Percy Harvin Vikings

2007: LSU

5. DL Glenn Dorsey Chiefs

2006: Florida

21. DB Reggie Nelson Jaguars

2005: Texas

3. QB Vince Young Titans

7. DB Michael Huff Raiders

2004: USC

10. WR Mike Williams Lions

31. DT Mike Patterson Eagles

2003: LSU/USC

15. LSU WR Michael Clayton Buccaneers

20. USC DL Kenechi Udeze Vikings

2002: Ohio State

None*

2001: Miami

7. OT Bryant McKinnie Vikings

14. TE Jeremy Shockey Giants

17. DB Phillip Buchanon Raiders

24. DB Ed Reed Ravens

27. DB Mike Rumph 49ers

2000: Oklahoma

None

*-DB Mike Doss was OSU's top pick in 2003 draft, going in second round to Colts (58th overall)



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