Ohio State has proven it can mass produce NFL talent.
Last season, the Buckeyes had 12 players selected in the NFL draft. In 2017, a more modest seven players were selected.
With the 2017 NFL regular season officially over it is time to assign grades to these rookies.
Marshon Lattimore—Round 1, No. 11
The New Orleans Saints have found a once-in-a-generation corner in Marshon Lattimore. The lock-down cover man is one of the key pieces of this much improved Saints defense. In his rookie year, Lattimore made the Pro Bowl, snatched five interceptions and helped lead the Saints to the playoffs. There is a good chance Lattimore will even win Defensive Rookie of the Year for his spectacular play on the field. Only 21 years old, Lattimore will certainly have many more big plays in his future.
Malik Hooker—Round 1, No. 15
Malik Hooker appeared to be one of the leaders for defensive rookie of the year until he suffered a season ending knee injury in Week 7. Although he missed nine games in 2017, Hooker proved to be a ball hawk, intercepting three passes on the year. Even more impressive is the fact that Hooker had a three-game interception streak going before his injury. As long as Hooker can return healthy and learn to play the run better, he should develop into a Pro Bowl safety for the Indianapolis Colts.
Gareon Conley—Round 1, No. 28
The 2017 season never truly took off for Gareon Conley. After suffering a shin injury that caused Conley to miss the training camp, preseason and the season opener, the rookie only managed to play in two games before being placed on injured reserve. Conley showed promise in the time he played, making seven tackles and recording a pass deflection. However the Oakland Raiders definitely expected more production from a first-round pick.
Curtis Samuel—Round 2, No. 40
The all-purpose player showed he can do it all in 2017. Curtis Samuel caught passes, rushed the football and returned kicks. However, the biggest problem for Samuel was that he was never truly healthy in 2017 and ultimately had his season end prematurely after suffering an ankle injury. The Carolina Panthers will certainly have a role for him in 2017 when he returns.
Big catch by Curtis Samuel. pic.twitter.com/iyDqdBxQwl— Panthers 24/7 (@Panthers24_7) November 5, 2017
Raekwon McMillan—Round 2, No. 54
Another victim of the injury bug, Raekwon McMillan’s season ended in the first game of the preseason. McMillan tore his ACL playing against the Atlanta Falcons. His grade will have to be reevaluated once he is healthy in 2018.
Pat Elflein—Round 3, No. 70
The Minnesota Vikings found a steal in round three when they selected center Pat Elflein. The rookie managed to start 14 games for the NFC North champions. Elflein has been part of a revamped Vikings offensive line that finished 7th overall in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 122.3, despite losing starting running back Dalvin Cook for the year. It appears Elflein will have a long NFL career as long as he can stay healthy.
Noah Brown—Round 7, No. 239
As a seventh-round pick, Noah Brown still managed to find a role on the Dallas Cowboys. Although he only had four catches on the year for 33 yards, Brown managed to find himself in the receiver rotation. Finally, Brown proved himself to be an able blocker taking on linebackers such as Von Miller in 2017.