With NFL draft week upon us, it’s a good time to clean out the notebook again. We start with the Buckeyes but also touch on the schedule for the Bengals and Browns, among other things.
- My No. 1 takeaway from the spring (even before Matthew Baldwin announced he feels the need to step away) was Ohio State should probably prepare to be a run-first team in 2019. That might seem like a step back after Ohio State spent three seasons trying to become a more sophisticated passing team, but that’s how the personnel looks to me, especially if they get a No. 2 running back to step up (which seems likely). The line’s strength will probably be run-blocking, especially if a mauler like Brandon Bowen is the right tackle, and more available tight ends make controlling the edge easier and expand the playbook.
- Then of course there is the quarterback: I doubt I’m alone in seeing Justin Fields’ recruiting ranking and expecting Braxton Miller, but he’s more young Troy Smith, who was a good runner and adequate passer but not great at either early in his career. If Fields is ever going to be 2006 Troy I don’t know (certainly not ruling it out), but he seems to be a true dual-threat at this point in that he isn’t going to pick a team apart with his arm (as Smith did in his Heisman Trophy season) or run circles around defenders (as Miller did for three years), but he can do both enough to be effective with one to balance the other. That was part of the formula in 2005 when Ohio State made the quarterback run a real part of the offense for the first time since probably the ‘70s. (No, calling more rollouts for Stanley Jackson and Steve Bellisari doesn’t count, but I will grant an exception for the Fiesta Bowl game plan against Miami. A year or two in the early ‘90s could offer another exception, but come on, we’re only talking about good offenses here.)
- The other side of this is the defense. Last year’s version would not afford the luxury of having a methodical offense, but I have a feeling the 2019 version of the Silver Bullets will be really good. They will be much deeper up front and older everywhere. Plus for as many times as I’ve written they were the worst defense in school history they were top 30 in S&P+. Basically all the problems were with big plays, so only so much needs to be fixed. Simply playing sound could go a long way.
- Bottom line: Put it all together and Ryan Day’s first team could be a true Tressel tribute. Of course, when I threw out the ’T’ word (Tresselball) on Twitter there was a little pushback. If the term triggers you, perhaps think more like 2012 or ‘13 but with better receivers and (again) a much better defense. Also recall that in 2005 Ohio State ranked No. 4 in the country in offensive S&P+, and even the 2008 offense piloted most of the way by true freshman Terrelle Pryor checked in at No. 31.
- With that in mind, it will be interesting how much run scheme OSU puts in this August in case the passing game is just mediocre and how long Day and his staff try to force a really robust passing game if Fields starts slowly.
- Oh, and while we’re being nostalgic: Pizza Hut might have dropped off but Cinnabon still brings it every time.
- Before we move on from college football, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez calls for Playoff expansion, thinks committee is not following selection criteria. Pretty much nailed it.
- Now then: If you doubt drafting Akili Smith was one of the biggest mistakes in Bengals history, Peter King is here with a reminder they could have had all of the Saints’ draft picks for the No. 3 but said no. I had forgotten about that aspect of the Smith saga, which was a debacle in and of itself.
- Speaking of the NFL in the Buckeye State: The release of the 2019 schedule has me envisioning decent starts for both the Bengals and the Browns with Cincinnati stumbling down the stretch and Cleveland soaring. Exactly how it plays out depends on whether or not the Ravens and/or Steelers are able to steer through some rough waters. Both could be down this season, in which case Cleveland is a cinch division winner and the Bengals could end up close to .500. If the old bullies are both good, well, then we’ll probably have some chaos in the north from start to finish.
- DRAFT WEEK REMINDER: The Bengals and the Buckeyes actually have a much deeper draft history than many folks might realize.
- I still don’t think Dwayne Haskins will be added to that list, though he would be a great pickup for Cincinnati. The Bengals have some pretty important needs this week, and coming out of the first 100 or so picks with a quarterback is right up there. So is finding another offensive tackle, a linebacker, a pass rusher and another playmaker in the secondary. I also don’t believe Haskins will be available at 11.
- The mock drafts, which mean pretty much nothing, are all over the board with Haskins, but there are at least a few evaluators who are Team Dwayne over Team Kyler Murray.
- If Murray does not go No. 1 overall, mock drafts should be banned for the next year (at minimum) and Arizona Cardinalsing should be the new term for trolling the media. Murray is talented and might end up being a good NFL player, but his being the consensus No. 1 pick for two months then not going No. 1 would really expose what a farce this whole process has become from a media standpoint. While Murray is an intriguing prospect, nothing tangible about him being the No. 1 overall pick makes sense so him being there despite the Cardinals not actually wanting to take him would signal a lot of people either have no idea what they’re doing and are just making stuff up (or copying others) or they blindly report whatever they are fed by team officials and/or agents. Neither of these are good options.
- Lastly: It’s nice to see the Blue Jackets get that breakthrough playoff series win against the Lightning, but they really needed to work some kind of 1990 Reds reference into Tuesday night as they were finishing a sweep of Tampa Bay. Like if Eric Davis was not available to drop the puck, couldn’t they have at least played some MC Hammer. (I wonder if central Ohio native Paul O’Neill is a CBJ fan?) I mean, am I the only one who sees the parallels with an underdog from Ohio taking down the alleged best team in the league, a juggernaut expected to easily win it all? Of course that was the end of the journey for the Reds, and this is just the beginning for the Blue Jackets.
“Random Thoughts” is a semi-regular feature here at the blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions and have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter or Facebook.
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