By Barry Wilner
AP Pro Football Writer
Yes, there still are some terrific Buckeyes left in the NFL draft, even after five went in the first round.
There are plenty of defensive backs, too, despite seven being chosen in the first 25 spots.
Perhaps most intriguing: Alabama, the defending national champion and perennial powerhouse, had only one player picked in the opening 31, center Ryan Kelly to Indianapolis.
So when the proceedings commence Friday evening, look for a rolling Crimson Tide.
Still on the board from Nick Saban’s program are the likes of Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry, playmaking linebacker Reggie Ragland, and standout defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson and Jarren Reed. All should go in the second round, with cornerback Cyrus Jones a possibility.
While ‘Bama was nearly ignored on Thursday night, Ohio State dominated. Chosen from the Buckeyes were DE Joey Bosa, RB Ezekiel Elliott, CB Eli Apple, OT Taylor Decker and LB Darron Lee.
“It’s the greatest feeling,” said Apple, who is headed to the Big Apple and the Giants. “Those are guys that you battle with, guys that have just been through so much. So to see us succeed right now and go through all this good stuff is a great celebration.”
There could be more coming. Still on the board from Ohio State are safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell; WR Michael Thomas; OL Chase Farris; QB Cardale Jones; and quarterback turned wideout Braxton Miller.
A surprising three potential pro safeties went on the first day, although Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey might wind up at cornerback in San Diego. Last year, no true safeties were taken in the opening round.
With four cornerbacks selected, the secondary accounted for the most players chosen in the first 31. Which means, well, there are plenty of defensive backs available.
Names to keep an eye out for are Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, Darian Thompson of Boise State, Jalen Mills of LSU, DeAndre Houston-Carson of William & Mary, Jeremy Cash of Duke and Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech.
At one point, a run on receivers saw three disappear consecutively late in the first round. But only four wideouts went altogether, leaving a solid collection of prospects for the pass-happy NFL.
In Rounds 2 and 3, such targets as Tyler Boyd of Pittsburgh, Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma, Ohio State’s Thomas and Miller, and a tight end, Hunter Henry of Arkansas could be called.
While the Rams and Eagles at the top of the draft and the Broncos in a trade up from No. 31 to 26th presumably got their quarterbacks of the future, Day 2 could see a few more passers join NFL teams. Michigan State’s Connor Cook, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Ohio State’s Jones, Arkansas’ Brandon Allen and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan are possibilities.
One player still out there is UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, who when healthy might be the best athlete in this class. But right knee issues have severely clouded his future.
Does someone reach out for the versatile go-getter? We’ll see.
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