Togiai goes to Browns, Farrell reunites with Meyer on final day of NFL draft
When college players enter the NFL draft, they know their pro destinations will likely be unfamiliar ones.
Not so for the first two Ohio State players taken in the final day of the draft Saturday. Defensive tackle Tommy Togiai will remain in Ohio after his selection by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round (132nd overall). Tight end Luke Farrell will play for Urban Meyer, the former Ohio State coach now running the Jacksonville Jaguars. Farrell was the first pick of the fifth round.
The Baltimore Ravens then took cornerback Shaun Wade later in the fifth round with the 160th overall pick. He was the ninth Buckeye picked, the most of any college team at that point of the draft.
“I’m ecstatic,” Togiai said. “I love Ohio, my years in Columbus, and I'm excited to just to get back to Ohio and get back to work.”
The Idaho native had a breakthrough junior season at nose guard after playing behind DaVon Hamilton and Robert Landers early in his career. He was regarded as the strongest player in the Ohio State program. On pro day, Togiai had 40 reps of the 225-pound bench press.
He had 23 tackles, including 4½ for losses. Togiai had three sacks, all against Penn State.
He did not play in the national championship game against Alabama after testing positive for COVID-19. That played into his decision not to return for his senior season.
“Making this decision to come out was really about just my health,” Togiai said. “I was healthy coming out after the season and didn't know what next season would look like, risking injury. Then with the pandemic still around, that risk factor was kind of the reason I came out early.”
He said he hoped to go earlier than he did but is thrilled to join a team and a defensive line on the rise like the Browns. Cleveland was 11-5 and made the playoffs last year.
“I was betting on myself, and it worked out for the best,” Togiai said.
Farrell was elated when Meyer called him to tell him about his selection.
“I’ve got some great news for you, brother," Meyer said. "Welcome to Jacksonville.”
“No way,” Farrell replied incredulously.
Farrell’s parents then got on the phone.
“You can't get away from me so it looks like we're going to go hang out again for a while,” Meyer told them.
Farrell was an underrated player at Ohio State, mostly because he caught only five passes for 37 yards and one touchdown last year. He was overshadowed by fellow tight end Jeremy Ruckert, a flashier pass catcher. In mock drafts, Farrell’s name was usually omitted.
But offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said in March that NFL scouts were high on him.
“I've had several pro scouts say they think he might be as good of a blocking tight end as there is coming out in the draft,” he said.
On Ohio State’s pro day, Farrell said he agreed with that assessment and believed that NFL coaches would value him. The one who knows him best did.
The draft went mostly as anticipated for Ohio State. Quarterback Justin Fields was expected to be the Buckeyes’ only first-round pick, and he was. The Chicago Bears traded up to select him with the 11th pick.
On Friday, linebacker Pete Werner (New Orleans) and center Josh Myers (Green Bay) were taken late in the second round. Offensive guard Wyatt Davis (Minnesota), running back Trey Sermon (San Francisco) and linebacker Baron Browning (Denver) went late in the third round.
The Saints have long coveted Ohio State players. Werner will join Michael Thomas, Malcolm Jenkins, Marshon Lattimore and Nick Vannett.
“This is almost the capital for guys coming out of Ohio State,” Werner said. “It feels great to be one of those guys. Being a Saint is everybody's dream.”
Myers has a chance to replace a former Buckeye in Green Bay. The Packers needed a center because Corey Linsley signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as a free agent. Both players wore No. 71 as Buckeyes and have become friends.
“It would mean everything to me," Myers said of succeeding Linsley. “He's such a great player and to follow him up is a big task that I'm excited to get a shot at."
Both Myers and Davis played through painful injuries this year to help Ohio State reach the national championship game. That might have hurt their draft stock but neither had regrets.
"I can't wait to go out there and perform and show them why they made the right choice," Davis said after his selection.
Wade was projected as a possible first-round pick a year ago, but he had an inconsistent final season at Ohio State after moving from the slot corner to outside cornerback.
Wade said a number of factors contributed to his performance. He said he had knee and toe injuries and was coping with deaths in his family, including his grandmother.
“I know I have first-round talent,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a matter of putting it on the field and doing it every day.”
Several other Buckeyes, including linebacker Justin Hilliard and defensive end Jonathon Cooper, were hoping to be taken in the draft's final rounds.