Ohio State Football: Why the Hurry for Wide Receivers to Turn Pro?
Leaving Ohio State for the NFL too early may be hurting some players.
When Ohio State wide receiver Noah Brown announced he was entering the NFL draft, it was an interesting decision to say the least. In his one season as a starting wide receiver for the Buckeyes, Brown had 32 receptions for 402 yards, 7 touchdowns and averaged 12.6 yards per catch.
He certainly didn’t set the college football world on fire in 2016. Why then did Brown decide to turn pro and would it have been in his best interest to stay one more year at Ohio State?
Was it because he thought the NFL scouts would look at his potential, as they often do, or was he just wanting to move on from his situation at Ohio State? Let’s explore the former situation first.
Possibly, Brown thought the four touchdown receiving game versus Oklahoma was enough to impress the scouts for an NFL team to make him a high draft pick. Oh yeah, he had one of the best catches in the 2016 season in the same game.
That could sway a team to grade Brown higher than most of the other teams in the league and make him a high draft choice. NFL general managers often look for the potential upside in a player more than how they produced on the field in college. But was his one outstanding game enough to elevate Brown to a high draft pick, or could he fall to the bottom and possibly even go undrafted?
You only have to look at last year’s draft to see how opinions can be varied about Ohio State receivers leaving for the NFL draft with eligibility remaining. Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall had entirely different situations, and different results as well.
First let’s look at Marshall, a redshirt sophomore like Brown, banking on a team drafting him on potential. Marshall was a key player in the 2014 National Championship run and put up good numbers the two years he played for the Buckeyes.
Marshall had at least 36 receptions each of those years and was effective as a runner and a return man. Marshall went undrafted and was picked up as a free agent by the New York Jets.
Thomas, on the other hand, came out after his redshirt junior season. He was a much more polished receiver with back to back seasons of 50+ catches. Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints.
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It appears the extra season at Ohio State helped Thomas in the draft, and he also had a tremendous rookie season. Could that have been the case for Brown if he would have decided to play for the Buckeyes one more season?
It’s difficult to say why certain players turn pro before they are ready. Sometimes it’s a financial issue, which is understandable. But sometimes it’s because family and friends have convinced the player that NFL general managers realize he is as talented as they believe he is. Sometimes the player is just tired of the situation at the school, don’t see things getting any better, and just want to move on.
There is no doubt that the passing offense for Ohio State has been sub par the last two seasons and that could be an issue. Urban Meyer has already made coaching changes since the season ended in an attempt to rectify that situation but it appeared that Brown had already made up his mind to leave.
The changes in the passing game came a year too late for Jalin Marshall, but maybe Noah Brown should have come back for one more season to see how it may help him. It could have made the difference between being a high draft pick, or falling way down in the draft.