T4. Ohio State, 33 players from 2001 to 2004
The NFL Network used to have a show called College Football Now. I was a regular guest – hosted by Paul Burmeister, with Charles Davis and Mike Mayock – and right after Ohio State shockingly won the 2002 national title, I stepped in it.
I was openly mocked and ridiculed for making the ridiculously bold claim that 20 players off the upcoming 2003 Buckeye team might be drafted the following year – even though I should’ve had more show cred after correctly predicting that OSU was going to shock the world and beat Miami.
I was wrong – 14 Buckeyes were selected in the 2004 Draft. It was still an unbelievable and historic draft class as a part of one of the greatest talent runs ever.
John Cooper sent a whole lot of talent to the NFL on a regular basis – 33 players were selected in the five years before the regime change – and then Jim Tressel stepped into a machine that was already in motion and make it even better.
After Cooper’s final season, six Ohio State players were drafted in 2001 – including two first rounders. The Buckeyes went just 7-5 in Tressel’s first year, but there was talent, losing eight players to the NFL.
Fortunately, there were a whole lot of amazing players waiting in the wings.
After winning the national title, Ohio State lost just five players to the NFL – hence my wild prediction – and it showed in the 2004 Draft with three first rounders selected and those 14 players overall.
It’s not like Tressel slowed down, with 27 players drafted from 2006 to 2009, and Urban Meyer has made Ohio State into something even more amazing.
But good luck ever repeating 2004.