By Jordan Ray
Four years ago, Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Eli Apple and Ezekiel Elliott took a picture together during an Ohio State football game. They were visiting the school as high school seniors on a recruiting trip.
“I was, like, 16 in that picture,” Apple said. “I just remember it was really cold that game. (Ohio State) put up a lot of points. It was, like, 63-20. Very great game. Very entertaining.”
The group led a massive class of 12 Buckeyes chosen in the 2016 NFL Draft that ended Saturday in Chicago.
“That’s what is expected from Ohio State,” Elliott said. “That’s why we all went to the Ohio State University, because we knew we were going to be prepared to play at the next level.”
Ohio State holds the record with 14 selected in the 2004 draft.
Among those chosen in 2016, Ohio State had five picked in the top 20 (Bosa, Elliott, Apple, Lee and Taylor Decker), including three in the top 10 (Bosa, Elliott and Apple).
“Nobody has higher expectations for ourselves than we do,” Bosa said. “Me and Zeke and Darron would always laugh about (being) first-rounders, (saying) ‘Hey, we’re going to be first-rounders one day.’ Here we are.”
Bosa, a defensive end, was the first Buckeye taken. San Diego picked him with the third overall pick.
“Right after I got called, we all shared a good moment,” Bosa said. “Big hug. I was crying like a baby, of course.”
Five more Buckeyes were picked on Day 2 (Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, Adolphus Washington, Braxton Miller and Nick Vannett), breaking the record for the most players (10) taken in the first three rounds.
The record for Rounds 1-3 had been eight, set by Tennessee in 2000. It’s also one more than the entire Big 12 conference had selected during that timespan.
The final two Buckeyes went on Day 3. First, the Chargers took linebacker Joshua Perry fourth in the fourth round — with Bosa announcing the pick for their new team.
“He’s one of the hardest workers I know,” Bosa told Chargers.com. “An amazing leader. A physical freak. He’s a big, huge guy at the linebacker position and helped our defense tremendously over the past three years. He’ll do that here in San Diego. It’s a steal for sure to get him in the fourth round.”
The Bills took quarterback Cardale Jones with the final pick of the fourth round.
That gave Ohio State 12 picks for the first four rounds, also an NFL record for one school. That’s three more then the mark held by the 2004 and 2006 Buckeyes.
Despite winning the national title last year, Alabama had seven.
“I’m happy for those Ohio State guys,” said Alabama’s Reggie Ragland, who went to Buffalo in the second round. “We got real close during this process and (Ezekiel Elliott) told me it’s a hard few days for him. We joke about it right now,
but I’m not mad about it.”
Photo at top: Ezekiel Elliot takes the NFL Draft red carpet Thursday night. Elliot was the second of 12 Ohio State players selected during the three day draft. (Lena Blietz/MEDILL)