What Urban Saw at Fiesta, NFL Scouts See in OSU, Clemson

Bruce Hooley

Several days before Ohio State played Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl this past December, Urban Meyer stood in a hallway of the Camelback Marriott media headquarters for the College Football Playoff game, sounding like guy still filled with the anticipation of Christmas.

"I can't wait to watch," Meyer said, articulating all the riveting match-ups and psychological conflict that would transpire when two teams much more talented than everyone they'd played to that point finally encountered an opponent with comparable speed, talent and athleticism.

He was not alone in that, of course, because as breathless as Meyer was, NFL scouts and general managers were, as well, and that will likely be reflected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Ohio State, Clemson and fellow College Football Playoff participants LSU and Oklahoma will -- according to this five-round, trade-free mock draft from SI.com -- account for 12 selections in the first round.

That's more than a third of the picks, with OSU's Chase Young (No. 2 to Washington) and Jeff Okudah (No. 7 to Carolina) going in the Top 10.

Clemson has three picks in Round One, LSU five -- led by former Buckeye Joe Burrow No. 1 overall to Cincinnnati -- and Oklahoma two.

Throw in Alabama, which loomed as a Playoff participant for the sixth straight year until quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's season-ending hip injury -- and the five college football powerhouses account for more than half of SI.com's projected first-round -- providing 18 of the 32 picks.


Okudah has been widely-anticipated to land in Detroit with the third overall pick, but Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons winds up there in SI.com's trade-free mock.

Simmons was spectacular in the Fiesta Bowl and ran a 4.39 at the NFL Scouting Combine, the fastest time for a linebacker in 14 years.

That's the kind of freak athleticism Meyer spoke of before the Fiesta Bowl that abounded on both sidelines, and the kind sure to captivate Lions coach Matt Patricia, who came from New England, where Bill Belichick's defenses did pretty well with versatile linebackers like Teddy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel.

OSU cornerback Damon Arnette goes 42nd overall -- 10 picks into the second round -- to Jacksonville in SI.com's projections.

That's just three spots ahead of J.K. Dobbins, who gets taken 45th overall in Tampa, where he'd be teammates with Tom Brady.

SI.com's other predicted landing spots for Ohio State players include:

Malik Harrison, LB, 69th overall to Carolina.

K.J. Hill, WR, 105th overall to Minnesota.

Davon Hamilton, DT, 106th overall to Baltimore.

OSU's Robert Landers, Jordan Fuller and Austin Mack are also likely to be selected in the seven-round draft.

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