Ranking the top 20 players in the 2024 Ohio State-Michigan game: Buckeye Talk pod (2024)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On this episode of Buckeye Talk, Stephen Means, Nathan Baird, Andrew Gillis and Jimmy Watkins continue with Day 4 of May-chigan week.

The quartet used this episode to rank the 20 best players taking part on the 2024 Ohio State-Michigan game. As they make their way through the list, they discuss the lopsided reality of how many Buckeyes are on the list in comparison to Wolverines and what that could mean come the final week of the season.

Thanks for listening to Buckeye Talk.

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Ranking the top 20 players in the 2024 Ohio State-Michigan game: Buckeye Talk pod (1)


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Read the automated transcript of today’s podcast below. Because it’s a computer-generated transcript, it may contain errors and misspellings.

Stephen Means (00:09.002)

Welcome back to Buckeye Talk. This is day four of Michigan week. I think we’ve had a pretty interesting week so far set in the scene on Monday. And then on Tuesday, we compared Ohio State’s 2024 roster to Michigan’s 2023 roster. And rather we thought Ohio State’s 2024 roster could win that game. And then Andrew and I, we did more of a recruiting hit on Wednesday for day three. And we compared two programs who take recruiting in a very different way in terms of how they handle things and how they approach things. And now this is day four. We’re going to draft the 2024 roster.

between Ohio State and Michigan, figuring out who the top 20 players are expected to play in that game. Now, here’s the deal. The transfer window is closed, so there’s no players going into the window. There’s still players who could potentially be joining teams. So far, Ohio State’s been pretty quiet. I don’t know if that’s going to change necessarily unless something crazy happens. I don’t know. Maybe Michigan adds a couple more guys like a quarterback. But right now, here are the rosters, and here’s what we’re going off of as we rank these guys. We’re going to do it in draft.

fashion as we typically do things here on Buckeye Talk. Jimmy’s gonna go first, I’m gonna go second, Nathan’s gonna go third, Andrew’s gonna go fourth, and then we’re gonna do that order time and time again, and then eventually we’re gonna reach 20. Get the text, 614 -350 -315. We’ve had some interesting stuff this week going through the text, going on the site, go read the site, cleveland .com slash OSU. It’s been a fun week for Michigan Week. Jimmy, you’re up first as the guy who is our...

You’re a rivalry reporter, which means you’re also the person on this pod. Everybody gets the hate. And what also means you get to know both rosters a little bit in this situation. Right. And so first of all, before you make your pick, was it easy to come up with who the number one pick was? Because you’ve known about this for about a couple of 12 hours now. So was it was it a no brainer number one pick or were there maybe options?

Jimmy Watkins (01:57.598)

The only the only strife we had in our in our front office, whatever we’re calling our respective front offices here is do I do I want to play heel because I think I do think you can make a case for a certain Michigan Wolverine. I don’t want to step on someone else’s pick, but it’s it’s we should also establish we’re not like drafting actual football teams. So positional value, all that stuff out the window is just like.

Stephen Means (02:22.986)


Jimmy Watkins (02:26.206)

Who is the best at playing football based on what we ask them to do? And I think when you approach it from that perspective, the answer has to be Caleb Downs for me. Simply because, I mean, first of all, you already have the production. He’s an All -American as a freshman. He’s great in man coverage. He’s a ball hawk in zone coverage. And by the way, he led Alabama in tackles as a freshman for the first time since.

at least 1970 is the first time that’s happened at Alabama football. And that’s just like, we don’t have stats that go back far enough before that. So like, he’s already so good. And you’re betting on the potential, the upswing that he can bring as a 19, 20 year old kid, because he’s still so young. It continues to be crazy to me that an already stacked defense that was top five in yards per play.

last year, then returned what is it eight starters and some other contributors, then they went and got the best, not just like, Kaila Downs is the best conceivable player who could be in the transfer portal, like one of the best players in the country. So that’s, that’s my pick.

Stephen Means (03:40.714)

Caleb Downs, 107 tackles last year. PFF had him at a grade of 85 .6. As you mentioned, Jimmy, probably one of the best freshmen in the country. Probably the best freshman in the country last year. Consists of the second team All -American. Nathan, was that like the no -brainer, number one pick in a situation like this where we’re just ranking guys?

Nathan Baird (04:00.671)

I don’t know if he was no brainer, kind of as Jimmy was leading to, but he was my pick. He was going to be my first pick if it got, he would have been my pick three if it had gotten to me. And for all the reasons that Jimmy just said, I think that when you’re, from my methodology here, on the fringes, maybe there were some tiebreakers where I took into account positional value or the relative depth of things.

or what stage of career somebody’s in. But mostly this was just who’s the best pound for pound football player. And I think there’s a strong case to be made that Kayla Downs is the best pound for pound football player on either of these rosters right now today. Except for, well, there’s actually one other person I would put in that category.

Stephen Means (04:42.602)

There’s actually one other person I would put in that category Andrew was Caleb Dallas number one on your list Yeah, he was

Andrew (04:50.19)

Yeah, he was. I think if you’re doing this, you know, who’s going to be the highest NFL draft pick out of these guys? I actually don’t think it’s going to be Caleb Downs, you know, because just the positional value of moving forward. So I think it’s maybe going to be easy to look at this in a year or two and be like, well, Caleb Downs was only 14th overall pick or a 12th overall pick or whatever. But I mean, I think he’s maybe the best defensive player in college football right now.

which is kind of crazy to say going into just his second year. But yeah, he would have been my pick. You just look at the talent and what he can do for a defense. There were a couple other guys that I think maybe deserved at least like a head nod and maybe some slight consideration, but it was Caleb. Caleb would have been the first pick for me too.

Stephen Means (05:39.562)

would have been the first pick for me too. I think there might be an edge rusher down at Tennessee who might have something to say about that. But point, point taken. I’m up and I’m going with Mason Graham here. It’s just he was our highest graded defensive player last year. Mason Graham won. And then that group of defense interior defensive tackles, I just think he’s the best of that bunch. And there’s some positional, there’s also positional value there when, but for me, Nathan, it came down to really two Michigan players for this spot. I don’t know if you thought the same way, but.

Why I went with Mason Graham is that this guy can have an impact on this game exclusive, regardless of what’s going on, right? Like the other guy I was thinking of him in this situation, the ball has to kind of come to him in the situation. Mason Graham can just go get the ball. And especially when you’re talking about in a game like this, where we’re not all the way sure about Ohio State’s interior, the offensive line yet that takes his value. That takes his ranking up another notch for me. Mason Graham was second. Caleb Nelson, number one on my list, but.

Mason Graham’s overall impact on this game might be higher than anybody just because of what we do or don’t know about the guys he’s going to be matching up with on November 30th.

Nathan Baird (00:03.787)

Mason Graham was number two on my list as well, and it didn’t really have anything to do with this matchup. And there weren’t really very many things here where I considered this this head to head matchup. It’s really, again, just pound for pound best football player. He was excellent as a true freshman. He was excellent again last season. There’s a I think there was a case to be made for him over. Killed downs, actually, he’s been that good. And you could argue it plays at a position where you can.

affect a game more. You can be the reason why your team wins a game more at even on the defensive interior than you can at safety. But this is going to be a as you bring up, this is the problem. Ohio State is already trying to fix whether they want to speak it into existence or not. This isn’t the only good defensive interior player Michigan has. They didn’t solve it well enough last year to win that game.

and they’ve got to solve it better this year. They’ve got to find right now, as we sit here in mid -May, they don’t know who their starting right guard is, and they’re trying to win a championship by getting through this team that might have the best one -two combination of defensive tackles in the country. So that’s one of the main problems Ohio State has to fix. It also needs a quarterback finalized, needs some other things figured out too.

But this offensive line, like this going into the second year, it’s a really interesting contrast that one team just won a national championship and Michigan’s got its own offensive line issues now because all those guys cycled through and moved on. But year ago at this time, Michigan was, I think, confident it was going to have one of the best offensive lines in the country. Ohio State can’t say that. So how is it getting closer to that between now and beginning of end of August? And what is it doing elsewhere?

to make sure that it isn’t vulnerable elsewhere and it can capitalize regardless of what the Office of Lines is doing.

Stephen Means (02:07.199)

So did anybody not have these two guys as the top two guys on their list? Or was this pretty universal? Angie, you didn’t have Mason Graham. How many people do you have over these individuals? You said Caleb Downs is one, so without giving away names because you’re not up yet, but how many people do you have over Mason Graham?

Andrew (02:26.478)

Two, total. One other guy that we haven’t talked about. Mason Graham was third on my list. I don’t wanna step over maybe Nathan’s pick, but I think that there’s, yeah, I think that there’s, well, no, I don’t wanna talk about it before he talks about it, that’s what I mean. I have no problem telling Nathan that he’s wrong. I just don’t wanna do it before he goes and makes his pick. So, I think that Mason Graham is,

Stephen Means (02:40.255)

That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to step on each other’s pick, guys.

Andrew (02:55.982)

an elite football player, I made this kind of comment on our one of our pods. I think it was after the draft where I was like, you know, for all we’re talking about with Ohio State and the 2025 NFL draft and how crazy this could be. It is a little weird and it is a little like kind of unique that Michigan might have to like the two highest players, highest like drafted players on both teams in the 2025 NFL draft.

They might have three first round picks too, depending on what you think of another guy on this list. So it’s a unique list and it’s a unique conversation. I don’t think Mason Graham is necessarily a wrong pick. I just think that there’s another guy who I just think impacts the game in a bigger level. I understand what you’re saying, Steven, but I just think that there’s another guy who I think is a better pound for pound football player compared to what he is and compared to where he plays.

Stephen Means (03:50.079)

So Nathan, you are up then. You have the third pick overall and your first pick in this ranking. Who are you going with here?

Nathan Baird (03:57.771)

So, like I said, Graham was my number two and Will Johnson was my number three. And the tiebreaker there for me was just maybe kind of what you were alluding to, Stephen, where I think one guy just gets to have a more direct effect on the game than what Will Johnson can do. Now that’s probably selling him a little bit short because obviously if you’ve got a great receiver and a defensive back can neutralize him, even on a team like Ohio State, there’s multiple great receivers. You’re...

You’re tightening the game. You’re taking away a weapon and tying one of Ohio State’s hands behind its back, or at least pinning a few of its fingers back, however you want to look at that. But it’s a close call for me. I think either one of these guys, but I think these guys probably have to be the next two off the board. I think Graham and Johnson in some combination probably had to be two, three. There was one other person I would listen to, I think.

if we wanted to get creative and put them in the top three. And that’s who I had fourth on my list. But I think these are the next two guys. And it’s interesting that you could argue that either one of these guys could actually be number one overall, too. There’s probably people out there who follow the Big Ten, who follow the NFL draft stuff year round, who would maybe argue for either one of these guys to be number one on the list right now, just in terms of their accomplishments and how they can affect games. But it was...

This was, I thought, a pretty clear top three for me. And it was just a matter of which order I wanted to put these two Michigan guys in.

Stephen Means (05:31.999)

Andrew, I’m assuming you had will over Mason.

Andrew (05:35.662)

Yeah, that was the conversation for me. I had Caleb and then Will Johnson and Mason Graham. That was my top three. I think Nathan’s right. I had a pretty clear top three. And I think once you get to four, frankly, I don’t know if there’s a wrong answer. I’m sure some people would think that there’s wrong answers, but I don’t know how many truly kind of off the board picks you could start to make when you get to four.

Stephen Means (06:00.287)

So Jimmy, before Andrew goes here, I mean, we’ve made our top three picks and we’ll see if like how many more Michigan people show up here and maybe our top six in this situation. But the fact that the top three guys are two returning Michigan guys and a transfer Ohio State guy. Does that mean anything to anybody or say anything or is it just like, okay, they just have two of the five best players in the game, but like they don’t, they might not have one through 15.

Jimmy Watkins (06:25.127)

I think it’s interesting because the party line, the status quo, whatever you want to call it, has always been that Ohio State’s baseline of talent is higher, its ceiling of talent is higher. And that is not the case at this moment, which is a weird moment for that to not be the case because we’re talking about Ohio State as like...

a juggernaut this season that could win this game by multiple scores. We’re talking about Michigan potentially going eight and four, and yet we’re picking dudes on the playground and yeah, give me those two Michigan dudes and this guy who just got to Columbus. I don’t think that we are wrong in the assessments we are making because it’s about the breadth of talent, it’s about the placement of talent. And as we go further down on this list, I think we’re gonna start to see.

plurality of Buckeyes come off the board and potentially very few Michigan offensive players, period. But it is still interesting, the way we are framing these conversations. It did make me rethink the way we frame these conversations to rank these players and say, again, we still have many more picks left to go. But when we’re going to the top of the board, these are the guys who can make the most

singular impacts on a game themselves, right? So it’s even if we even if you think and I think we all do that Ohio State has a more talented roster by a comfortable margin overall, you do have to look at guys like Mason Graham and Will Johnson and say like, could they make a couple of game changing plays on their own that tips the scales?

Stephen Means (08:15.167)

So Angie you’re up. This is pick number four the final spot in our playoff ranking For per se of the old era who you’re going with at number four you stick it with the Michigan turn Or we head back over to the Ohio State side?

Andrew (08:28.398)

We’re heading back over to the Ohio State side. I think I feel like kind of a truther and it feels weird that I have to kind of be a truther, but it feels like everybody just stopped. Just know it just feels like everybody stopped talking about. And Mecca Bucca and everybody wants to talk about Jeremiah Smith and I feel like the sexy pick would have been all by the game. Jeremiah Smith.

Stephen Means (08:37.919)

It feels weird to tell the truth and not lie to people?

Andrew (08:53.678)

You know, he might be seven foot tall and run a three point two forty yard dash and he might be the greatest thing to ever play football. And Maccabooca is really good. And Maccabooca, had he been healthy last year, might be getting ready to play for like the Chiefs or the 49ers right now. Right. Like he might be already a first round pick and he came back. And I just think that everybody’s kind of been to I’ve said this for months. I think that everybody’s kind of been too quick.

to say, well, look at this bright new shiny toy, Jeremiah Smith. Look at how great he is. Well, Emeka Buka, I think, is still the best receiver on this team. I think we’re doing a little bit of a disservice to him if we’re saying that he’s not. And could Jeremiah be the best receiver on this team by November? Yeah, maybe. But that doesn’t mean Emeka is any less good. So right now, I’m taking Emeka. I think he’s a great receiver.

good route runner. I mean, we saw the ridiculous hands that he had that he had in the spring game. We made that like one handed catch along the sideline. Like Mecha Gubuk was awesome and he’s really, really good. And people seem to stop talking about him and I don’t think people should stop talking about him. This guy’s awesome. So Mecha Gubuk.

Stephen Means (10:05.439)


Jimmy Watkins (10:06.471)

Can I just say real quick, in general, one of my favorite takes man takes is, hey, you guys, you guys don’t have enough takes about this guy. I don’t think we talk enough about this guy. Well, here, I mean, I don’t know if you know this, Andrew, you have a microphone. So in the in the takes man community, I think you need to look in the mirror a little bit on that one first. Also, you say all these, you know, we forgot we’re talking too much about Jeremiah Smith, not enough about not enough about a Mecca, Bucca, and then you just toss in there.

Stephen Means (10:11.551)

Mm -hmm.

Stephen Means (10:16.095)


Stephen Means (10:21.663)

Thank you.

Andrew (10:21.966)

I do.

Jimmy Watkins (10:36.007)

I do think Jeremiah Smith could be the best receiver on this team by November.

Andrew (10:38.51)

Could, could, could, could.

Stephen Means (10:38.911)

Before you go Nathan I want to jump in because I think that’s part of the thing here Every single time Andrew has brought up a mecha book. It’s in like yeah, I know Jeremiah Smith is good I feel like that undercuts your point a little bit cuz you’re like hey stop talking about the dude who might be a freak because this guy’s pretty good as well

Jimmy Watkins (10:41.799)


Jimmy Watkins (10:55.751)

Also, the entire premise of this podcast is like, we’re drafting guys for the game. When do they play that game again? In November, when you just said Jeremiah Smith could be the best receiver on the team.

Stephen Means (11:03.551)

It’s true. Yeah!

Andrew (11:05.806)

Yeah, he could. He could. But guess what? I think Emeka could be as well. I think Emeka probably will be.

Nathan Baird (11:09.099)

Good night.

Nathan Baird (11:15.371)

I don’t think this is a bad pick at all. I do want to follow up on one thing Andrew said, cause he brought up the fact that Emeka Buka, what probably would have been an NFL draft pick last year. If both were eligible today, who would NFL teams take first? Jeremiah Smith or Emeka Buka?

Stephen Means (11:32.191)

Yeah, Maya, without question. An 18 year old kid? Sorry. Go ahead, Andrew.

Nathan Baird (11:34.475)

I was going, well, Andrew can answer it. It was Andrew who was the one who made the statement.

Andrew (11:40.078)

Well, if you could draft, if this was like the old school NBA where you could draft high schoolers, I think you’re taking Jeremiah over Emeka. I think the ceiling’s higher with Jeremiah. He’s younger. He’s three years younger. So.

Stephen Means (11:48.191)



Jimmy Watkins (11:56.071)

Hey, I think people are not talking enough about Emeka Abouka right now. People are saying that they would draft Jeremiah Smith over him in the NFL already as a high school player. I think people have forgotten. Did you see the one -headed catch in the spring game? Come on, we forgot about that guy.

Andrew (11:59.374)

Yep. Yep.

Stephen Means (12:09.247)


Andrew (12:10.498)

How do I get Jimmy off of this podcast as quick as possible? How do I do that? Because this happens when we’re friends. This happens in our normal day -to -day conversations too. So literally, I need him to leave right now.

Nathan Baird (12:14.667)


Stephen Means (12:22.335)

Sounds like you’re making his question. Serious question, though. Yeah, really. You’ll get through it. Serious question. Is it forget the Jeremiah Smith point because Jeremiah is probably going to come off the board here very soon as well. But the overall rosters of both Michigan and Ohio State, we’re talking the defensive guys that are still on the board, cornerbacks and still on board, quarterbacks are still on the board. Offensive linemen still on the board on both sides. Does anybody think this is if we even if we all have respect for a Mecca, does anybody think this is too high?

Nathan Baird (12:23.467)

Just keep picking. Just keep picking.

Stephen Means (12:52.095)

for a guy that we’re now sitting here having conversations about whether he’s even the best player in his own room.

Nathan Baird (12:57.355)

No, no, this is definitely not too high. I think there’s a very good argument to be made that he should be the next pick.

Jimmy Watkins (13:04.327)

I think, yeah, at this point we’re talking about, I think you can argue, again, you can project ahead, but I think the way I was doing this is like, if you have been a dog before, if you have shown me already that you can be a high level producer, I’m just going to give you the benefit of the doubt of some of these other guys where we are, even some of the like, someone like JT Tumaloa, like he’s a very good football player, has wrecked football games before, but like,

on a season long basis, like in weight, you know, I’m talking, it’s the old fashioned like pressures versus sacks conversation. Like, Amakabuka has a seasoned worth of, he has a 10 sack season on his resume, you know. So I’m just going to give that priority.

Stephen Means (13:48.543)

Okay, because I think that’s more to the point I think Andrew was getting at here. The fact that none of us think that you drafted that too high is good because to your point, Jimmy, he’s proven in this game, he’s proven a healthy Amaka Buka has nine catches, 125 yards in the touchdown against Michigan in 2022. A healthy Amaka Buka has eight catches for 112 yards in the touchdown against Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Last year, that wasn’t healthy Amaka Buka. So if you take it, a healthy Amaka Buka.

On a day when Notre Dame says, hey, anybody beat us, but Marvin Harrison Jr. A Mecca Buka goes, okay, seven catches 96 yards for you. So that’s, I wanted to make sure that was, because I think that, I wonder if like the way Andrew’s tone was, it made it feel like, does he think we have a Mecca Buka like 17th on this list?

No, I think we all had them within like our top seven. So I just wanted to make sure that was apparently okay. Jimmy, you’re gonna go twice in this first round. Everybody’s gonna have a round where they go twice because we’re not really drafting for the sake of like building our teams. We’re just ranking guys and four rounds just makes it seems quicker than five rounds. So Jimmy, you’ve got the last pick of the first round. Who you going with?

Jimmy Watkins (14:55.079)

Wait, I had the first pick of the first one. I’m confused by this order now.

Stephen Means (14:58.655)

So you now have the last three. No. No.

Andrew (14:58.67)

We’re not doing a snake draft.

Jimmy Watkins (15:00.963)

we’re not doing a snake draft. Okay, that throws me for a loop.

Andrew (15:04.75)

It really hurts the person who picks forth, whoever that might be.

Jimmy Watkins (15:08.455)


Stephen Means (15:08.927)

Really, I mean, you’re not building your team, so it’s okay.

Jimmy Watkins (15:12.743)

I think... This is hard.

Jimmy Watkins (15:18.375)

I think I go...

I think I go Trevion Henderson here and that’s probably a smidge high for some folks, but I just like, I like the ability to change the picture and momentum of a football game with one snap. I think that’s the, I’m also, we’re in the point now where I want to take guys I want to talk about because I think there’s an interesting conversation to be had about the running backs on both sides of this.

rivalry right now. But okay, number one, Trevion Henderson’s a really good football player who can again change the change the game in the blink in the blink of an eye has not we saw flashes of it last year him getting back to his his freshman year form. We’re still kind of chasing that a little bit as the as the standard benchmark for his career. But the reason I want to talk about the running backs is the the Quincheon Judkins edition is really interesting.

And I want to see what that does to Trevion Henderson’s life, because I think you can make a comparison between those two and Blake Hormon, Donovan Edwards. And I think of those two, not in role because Trevion’s the incumbent and has already proven himself worthy of feature back status. But I think Michigan would have said Donovan Edwards is our Trevion Henderson in that he can change the game in the blink of an eye. But.

I’ve heard running backs talk in the past that their sport, that their position can be a rhythm position, kind of like quarterback, kind of like a basketball player. So what happens to these kinds of players when they don’t get as many carries, when they have to split, when they have to split the load, when they have to stop and start all the time? That’s, that’s an interesting conversation. And then on the flip side of that, what happens to Donovan Edwards now that that backfield is mostly his Michigan’s always going to

Jimmy Watkins (17:19.847)

run a little bit of a committee back there and they have talented running backs, Kaleo Mullings among them. But what can Donovan Edwards do now that he’s going to have the more consistent workload?

Stephen Means (17:38.111)

Nathan is Trevion Henderson the best running back in this game.

Nathan Baird (17:43.179)

He’s the top running back on my list, but it was close. And I could hear an argument that he should be third, probably not third, but he could definitely be second. And for that reason, I didn’t have him this high on my list overall. He was kind of down in the next tier. But this is also, it’s also not like any shame to be out of a top 10 on a list like this, because it’s the defending national champion that brings back some pretty great starters.

Stephen Means (17:51.743)

Mm -hmm.

Nathan Baird (18:11.947)

and it’s this loaded Ohio State roster. So, you know, if you actually, I mean, if you’re just picking the top 10 players on Ohio State’s team between offense and defense, like there are people who are gonna have Trevion low in that top 10, probably, right? Because of Caleb Downs and a bunch of guys we haven’t talked about yet, and Emeka Ibuka, et cetera, et cetera. So that’s kind of where I was. Like it’s, I think he’s a really good football player.

But in terms of, you know, he also falls a little bit into the category of what Jimmy was talking about, which is there are some guys who I would argue maybe have done some things, either they’ve done things more consistently over the course of seasons, and he’s had injuries that have gotten in the way of that, but some guys haven’t. Or the highs have maybe been even higher that just snuck them ahead of him on my list.

Stephen Means (19:11.071)

Andrew, was Draven Henderson the first running back on your list?

Andrew (19:17.486)

He was, I think it’s really close. you know, I said this on one of our previous pods where it’s is Quinshawn. I, like, I, I know Steven made the point that maybe we’re underrating Triven Henderson’s between the tackle running ability, but like Quinshawn might just be like, I don’t think you’re disrespecting Henderson to say that Quinshawn is a better between the tackles runner. So you wonder is, is Quinshawn the guy who

takes the bulk of the carries and then you bring in Trevion for the curve ball and you bring in him for, for the snap where it’s, you know, Hey, you know, you have Quinchon run for, if you need a, you know, to run the ball at the end of the game or kill the clock, you know, do you run Quinchon for three, four plays in a row? And then you bring in Trevion for two or three plays to try to break one. Like I, I just, I think it’s close. Trevion was my guy for, for my, like my top running back on this list, but I think.

It’s really, really like 1A, 1B with Henderson and Judkins. They’re both really good. And I frankly think it could depend on game situation as to who’s the number one running back. So I think that there’s a reasonable case that especially for this game, you take Quinshaw number one.

Jimmy Watkins (20:33.799)

This is kind of the point. This is part of the reason like I’m picking as much for takes as I am for the power ranking. That’s why I think it’s such a fascinating dynamic between these two guys. Like what if Ohio State comes to a similar conclusion and says, you know what we need to get like we need, we care more about Quincheon Judd can seven that running back rhythm. And we care about Travion. We think Travion can, you know, whatever he can do in.

I don’t know, 25 to 30 snap or 25 to 30 touches. We think he can do something similar, i .e., you know, blow up a defensive scheme once or twice in 15 touches. Number one, how does that sit with Trevion? How does that affect him the way he plays the rest of the season? I think that that situation is a really interesting one. And I think it most of it will be solved by winning, but it’s still worth monitoring.

I’m still up, right?

Stephen Means (21:35.871)

No, that was your pick you’re taking trade me on that You

Nathan Baird (21:37.771)

No, that was your pic.

Jimmy Watkins (21:40.071)

I thought, so I don’t have two picks in a row, I just have two picks in this round? All right.

Stephen Means (21:44.799)


Andrew (21:46.734)

Yeah, that was the fifth overall pick. Yeah, the fifth overall pick, first pick of the second round.

Nathan Baird (21:47.083)

It’s the start of the second round.

Stephen Means (21:48.927)

Yeah, we just started the second round before we went to.

Nathan Baird (21:54.187)

It’s why doing five rounds of four would have been a little bit cleaner, but...

Stephen Means (21:57.087)

This is not that confusing, man.

Jimmy Watkins (21:57.639)

To be fair, I don’t want anyone to be like, this guy, like, no, he’s on a podcast right now. Like, Steve had just sent an email last night and was like, here’s the draft order. Good luck, guys. I knew nothing of the format.

Nathan Baird (22:03.499)


Stephen Means (22:07.487)

Yeah. Yeah, but you know, I never said it was you get two picks in a row, though. That’s you deciding to add extra layers to this.

Jimmy Watkins (22:18.183)

Okay, to get two picks in a round, most people who have ever done drafts, that usually means two picks in a row.

Stephen Means (22:24.063)

Or I mean, the point is you just got two picks before the commercial. The round thing is not irrelevant in this situation. It’s not about first round, second round, third round. This is how we’re structuring it for the sake of commercials. But back to the thing that actually matters here, and that’s, we’re talking about Trevion Henderson. So Trevion Henderson has 900 yard games in his career.

Two of them have come against ranked opponents. He had the 152 yards on 28 carries against Penn State as a freshman in 2022, excuse me. And then he had 104 yards against Notre Dame last year where like 61 of it came on that 61 yard touchdown. And the, you guys have all talked about this and sense of Quinchon and Trevion Henderson are the two guys who are the top of the list. And maybe you can change your order around here, but Nathan, you said something at the beginning, maybe he stirred.

I would maybe make it. I know, but I don’t know. I might make a case for Donovan Edwards. He had 216 yards in his game the last time it was played in Columbus. I know he had a bad year last year, but he had a bad year last year, but also Blake Corbin was there. So it’s like, to your point though, Jimmy, about rhythm, he’s just gonna be their guy this year. So maybe he gets back into the form we saw in 2022 and then he’s the home run hitter. I think.

Nathan Baird (23:11.371)

I retracted that pretty quickly.

Jimmy Watkins (23:21.767)

And then what happened?

Stephen Means (23:37.215)

For me, it pulled all the running backs down because I’m not sure which one I should put first because Trevion Henderson has yet to really explode in the Michigan game. He had 60 yards this past year and then in 2021 he had 74 yards. But the thing everybody remembers is those first three carries of the second half where he went nowhere. That’s not completely his fault. A lot of that was the offensive line did not block at a high level, which is crazy to look back on. An offensive line that had Theram Mumpher, Nicholas Petit -Fer, Dwan Jones.

Paris Johnson and Luke Whipple, like get five draft picks on your offensive line and you just couldn’t move the ball three times in a row. But it’s just, we haven’t seen enough of Trevion Henderson exploding and being the Trevion Henderson that we think he is in the big time games. Well, Quintin John -Jupkins just got here. So we don’t, we’re not completely sure how he’s going to adjust to big 10 level defenses, which have been known to be good run stopping defenses. So in the name of proven, I at least thought about putting Donovan Edwards first.

because we see when he’s at his best, how dangerous he can be to Ohio State in the run game because he literally did it two years ago. But with that being said, I had Trayvon Henderson, number one on my list. I did have everybody lower though. Okay, we’re going to take a break after five picks and then we’re going to come back after the commercial and do five more picks here on Buckeye Talk.

Stephen Means (24:56.543)

And we’re back on Buckeye Talk. It’s me and three other guys who I don’t know. It’s they’ve made this more difficult than it needed to be. But so far on our list, we’ve had yes, you guys. Yes, you guys. Caleb down. Caleb downs was the number one pick. I don’t care.

Nathan Baird (25:04.171)

We did? We’re the ones who made it more difficult, okay.

Jimmy Watkins (25:08.231)

This is what happens when you have Rivalry Week in May. You foster animosity when you have Rivalry Week in May.

Stephen Means (25:14.975)

Yeah, that’s exactly what’s going on here. Caleb Downs was first off our board, then followed by Mason Graham, Will Johnson, Emeka Buka, and then Treyvon Henderson. And I’m back up with my second pick in the draft and my first of two at this point in juncture before we had another commercial. And I’m taking Jack Sawyer. I’m just I’m sold on it. I’m sold on what we were seeing towards the end of the year and not just what he did in the Cotton Bowl. He was kind of building up to that.

throughout the back end of the season there. And we’re talking about guys who might be able to game wreck a game. And it seems like Jack Sawyer is emerging as the guy who we thought he was when he came to Ohio State as one of the top five players in the 2021 recruiting class. And if that’s him now, if what we saw in the Cotton Bowl, if what we saw the second half of the season is what Jack Sawyer is now.

Imagine 11 games of that and then you get to the Michigan game and then he really explodes, which we really haven’t seen from Ohio State in a while because even Chase Young Nathan, we did a rewatch of the 2019 game last week. He didn’t necessarily game wreck the Michigan game in 2019. In fact, Michigan did everything it could to make sure he didn’t game wreck that game. It was like the first time he didn’t have a sack in like 12 games and he didn’t have a sack in the Big Ten Championship game against Clemson as well. You maybe have to go back to 2017 to get the game wrecker.

on the defensive line. So the last time we saw one, it was actually Michigan. Aiden Hutchinson came wreck the game. And so if Jack Sawyer is on that level of trajectory, I think it pushed him up the list for me. On my overall list, he was four. He ends up getting taken six because that’s where I am in the pickin’. Nathan, what do you just think about the Jack Sawyer effect here?

Nathan Baird (26:52.587)

No, he’s coming up on my list. I had him in this tier. And I think those last six games are important. That it wasn’t just a one night, one game deal that we did see it building. It seemed like he flipped a switch and stepped up into a different level for what he can be. Now it’s just a matter of capitalizing on that, sustaining it.

I think it’s different than what we’ve seen from Tumaloau, frankly. I had Sawyer ahead of Tumaloau on my list as well, because for JT, it has been a little bit more spotty. The peaks have been higher in some cases, although what Sawyer did against Missouri might be, if you’re comparing the single game performances of these two guys’ careers, that might be number two. Tumaloau against Penn State’s number one, but that might be number two. It’s definitely in the conversation. But...

Stephen Means (27:40.543)

the same or any performance of these two.

Stephen Means (27:47.519)

Mm -hmm.

Nathan Baird (27:51.115)

It’s just been more sporadic. And some of the other games have just been a little bit more level, whereas I thought you started to feel Sawyer on a more consistent basis. And they’re two different kinds of players too. They have some different skill sets. So the head to head comparison isn’t always fair, but for the impact that you could project this guy to have, because he did it so consistently the back half of last year and came back to I think knowing that there was more he could show still.

knowing that he could come back and apply that to a full season and maybe catapult himself up into a higher NFL draft conversation. You know, I think he’s set up to potentially do that. It’s just a matter of going out. And as for a lot of guys on this Ohio State defense, when they’re reaching for something individually, that is more than just we know that the collection of talent is great. And we know that they’re all pretty good, but there’s multiple guys on this defense, I think, that are reaching.

for a different level of individual achievement. He might be number one on that list.

Stephen Means (28:56.671)

Andrew is Jack Sawyer, the first Ohio State defensive lineman off the board for you.

Andrew (29:02.094)

Yep, I think, you know, I’ve said this before, I think in terms of just being a well -rounded player, especially in a game like this where you’re going to have to defend the run, I think that he just does everything really well. I think sometimes when coaches talk, you know, I’ve made this point before, sometimes when coaches talk, you know, a lot of words, not a lot of substance, you know, there’s sometimes where there’s just, well, he’s just hyping everybody up. All of his players are great. We get it.

But with Jack Sawyer, you kind of listen when like Jim Knowles talks about it and just the position that he’s in, the way that he plays the position, you know, how he’s never out of position. There’s just a lot of things that he does really well. And I think in a game like the Michigan game, where you have to be kind of on your P’s and Q’s against a running team in a game where you can’t really afford mistakes, especially if Ohio State’s going to be the more talented team, I think that that’s going to be.

play itself out with the rest of our picks here. You need guys that are gonna be solid. So Jack Sawyer, he was the first defensive one.

On Ohio State, Mason Graham is ahead.

Stephen Means (30:15.423)

So Jack Sawyer from the Rutgers game on. So this is the last five games of the season. 22 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks. If that’s the trajectory he’s on, then I mean, this is why I take him that highly. It seems like he’s headed towards that trajectory. Nathan, you’re up with your second pick. The seventh pick overall. Who you taking?

Nathan Baird (30:37.707)

So much to Andrew Chagrin, I did have Jeremiah Smith as my top Ohio State receiver that I would take in this exercise. And it’s not really in any slight towards Emeka Ibuka. It’s just that as strong as he’s been, as good as he’s been, we just don’t, we’re talking about Jeremiah Smith in a different way. The people who see him practice talk about Jeremiah Smith in a different way. And when I look at what the ceiling is for any individual game this year,

Like Jeremiah Smith, I think has more potential to, I almost put him even higher on this list, frankly, because I had him fourth overall, because there’s guys who are great players, and then there’s guys who make it look unfair. He was doing that a little bit this spring as a true freshman, right out of the box. And that’s the kind of things that Marvin Harrison did. It’s kind of things that Chase Young did.

kind of things that even CJ Stroud in his way did. And I think those guys were in a special class above even people like Jackson Smith and Jigba or the defensive ends we’re talking about here or trying to think of other like recent, fairly high Ohio state draft picks like plenty of Mike Hall. Like I don’t know that ever really looked consistently like unfair. And that’s, I think what is attainable for Jeremiah Smith. Like he could be the kind of guy that steps on a field.

and you kind of feel sorry for the guys who are trying to defend him. And I don’t know that we feel the same way about the guys trying to defend even these other receivers on the field that are great. These thousand yard receivers like a Mecca Bucca. This is a different conversation. It feels like it’s setting up for a different conversation. So this might be putting the cart ahead of the horse, but even just based on what we saw this spring and what we heard this spring, I think it was both things.

When we went to those practices and saw those things with our own eyes, that was one thing. And it only reinforced what other guys on this team were saying, which sometimes wasn’t a lot. A lot of times it was just like, man, Jeremiah Smith, like just get ready. Like it wasn’t like giving a very detailed breakdown of like things he was doing. Well, he like runs really crisp routes and he’s, you know, he’s got good hands. It was mostly just like, yeah, this is it.

Nathan Baird (32:58.891)

And you’ll know it when you see it. And I think that sort of defying description. There’s only so many guys in college football any given time. And I think that is attainable for him in a way that it might not be for anybody else that we’re talking about in this exercise.

Stephen Means (33:16.895)

Jimmy, what do you think of Jeremiah Smith as a person who’s on the outside looking at?

Jimmy Watkins (33:22.119)

I think Nathan made a really astute point by pointing out the dumb things that people say about Jeremiah Smith, because I think the better a prospect is, the more dumbed down the analysis gets. Sometimes you have to be a real ball watcher to understand why a guy with good fundamentals.

would be a good player, a good draft prospect, something like that. But the obvious ones, the best ones are the ones where you just point and go, ooh, ooh, look at that. And I think that’s how I feel about Jeremiah Smith is I watch his YouTube highlights and I make involuntary embarrassing noises watching the highlights. Like he’s just, he is so good that, you know, a science or an astronaut that has been

visiting Mars for 10 years can be like, he’s pretty good at football, huh? Like I haven’t seen a lot of football in a while, but I’m pretty sure that guy’s pretty good. That’s, I think it’s, I think that’s what you get when you get players of this caliber. And I think it’s, when you have guys like that, it’s kind of never too early to put the horse before the car or the car before the horse or whatever that expression is. Because those are the kinds of players who jump the line. Those are the kinds of players who.

erase time, expected timelines. And I think actually, with the wide receiver, I don’t know how many more receivers we’re going to take in this draft. I just, I would make another quick point about receivers. I think it’s important to have the conversation here because I think that’s like, Ohio State’s wide receivers are the Michigan offensive line of this rivalries. Like this is the thing that we do really, really well.

that you’re still trying to figure out, right? Like Michigan hasn’t had a, I haven’t checked it recently, but I was doing research back in it last year, hasn’t had a top 100 receiver recruit, Tyler Morris was close, since like the Donovan People’s Jones class, whereas Ohio State just pockets an extra five -star receiver to go with their other one. Last week I was in my other, other five -star receiver prospect, says Brian Hartline.

Jimmy Watkins (35:43.751)

So I think that’s just important. Like the receivers are such an important part of this rivalry, both because they play a huge role in what Ohio State does, but also because Michigan’s sitting over there like, man, it’d be really nice to have one of those.

Stephen Means (35:56.927)

Thomas Peoples Jones was the number one receiver in the recruiting class too. And it didn’t go well, which probably plays into why they have not had one since Donovan. I’m serious. He was from CasTech, which is a pretty prominent high school in Michigan, top wide receiver in the 2017 recruiting class. And he was okay. But he was never a five star number one wide receiver is supposed to be. Speaking of number one five star wide receivers. I...

I think the Mecca Buka Jeremiah Smith thing is similar to the Mecca Buka Marvin Harrison Jr. thing. I think a Mecca Buka is really, really good. But if he’s your second best ride receiver, that’s saying something about your wide receiver unit, right? And I think that’s a fair analysis to have because in the prime example of that is the Georgia game. A Mecca Buka was very good in that Georgia game. That game fundamentally changed when Marvin Harrison Jr. got knocked out of the game.

And I think that’s what we’re talking about with the Jeremiah Smith, the Mecca, Bukka dynamic. If we get to the end of the year and a Mecca is second, that says something because that’s how good you like. Mecca is really good. But if you have a dude like this who can fundamentally change a football game for you, that’s where to what’s the getting carried away. I don’t think you can get carried away when you have a guy like that in any sport. When you have a guy who can turn a guy that’s typically a dude into your other dude.

that says something and I think Jeremiah Smith might be the only person on the roster right now who has that capability of turning a dude into like you’re Robin essentially and you’re that’s how strong your room is in that situation. So great pick Nathan. I would have picked Jeremiah Smith over a Mecca Bucca, but they’re close on my list, right? It’s not like Jeremiah Smith is number two and a Mecca Bucca is number 17, but they’re close, but I’m taking Jeremiah over a Mecca. I’m assuming Nathan you had it kind of similar.

Nathan Baird (37:48.043)

Smith fourth, Ibuka fifth overall.

Stephen Means (37:50.335)

Okay. Okay.

Jimmy Watkins (37:51.975)

I’m just glad we once again acknowledge that a Mecca -Ubuca is really good because people forget that.

Nathan Baird (37:56.299)


Stephen Means (38:01.791)

Speaking of which, Andrew, you’re up to pick.

Andrew (38:07.438)

I don’t like Jimmy. We shouldn’t have him on this pod anymore. We shouldn’t have him on this pod anymore. By the way, I was thinking about this when, cause we were talking about the Michigan receiver angle, just real quick. Like Michigan had a lot of really good receivers like 20 years ago. And then like who’s the Roman Wilson was the best receiver since who? Cause I was like, is it Steve? Yeah. Is it Steve Breaston? Is it Braylon Edwards?

Nathan Baird (38:09.802)

You don’t get to pick him.

Stephen Means (38:28.255)

It’s not on the people’s jobs.

Andrew (38:34.03)

Like is it, I’m sure they had some guy that I’m forgetting out like Mario Manningham. I know was there like,

Stephen Means (38:37.215)

No, to be fair, to be fair, some of this is change in style of play, right? They’re not throwing the ball around the yard.

Andrew (38:42.446)

Sure. But Michigan’s sila play from like 20 years ago hasn’t really changed too much. Like they haven’t gone totally into the spread.

Stephen Means (38:48.863)

Yeah, but like, yeah.

Nathan Baird (38:52.363)

Well, let me ask you, let me ask this question from another angle. As if we’re going to dump on Michigan’s receivers, who was Michigan’s best quarterback before JJ McCarthy? Like who, you know what I mean? Like it was a big line of rag arms throwing balls to these receivers. So there might be some shared blame as to why they weren’t getting great receiver production.

Andrew (39:04.814)

Chad Hennie? Bernard Robinson? Yeah.

Stephen Means (39:08.159)


Andrew (39:14.286)

That’s fair. Yeah. yeah. yeah. Yeah. We should. Yeah.

Stephen Means (39:14.623)

Sure. For sure.

Jimmy Watkins (39:16.423)

We could do a good name a guy pod with the Michigan quarterback’s. Take four CA.

Nathan Baird (39:23.499)


Stephen Means (39:23.711)

Let’s do a draft of like the ultimate B team in the Big 10.

Andrew (39:27.022)

Yeah, that would be great. Yeah, I mean, there’s a couple of different options here, but I’m going to take JT, JT Tumaloa, really good player. I think that, you know, again, you’re talking about another first round type of guy, you know, another guy with with, I think. You know, just a really high ceiling, you know, we’ve brought up his basketball background a lot on this pod before and just kind of the athleticism that he has and.

And I think in terms of maybe as a pure pass rusher, he’s got a higher ceiling than Jack Sawyer. I think Jack just does a lot of other things really well and has also kind of proven that he can be a good pass rusher, which I agree as to why he should be ahead of JT. But yeah, I mean, JT, I think is a really good spot for this, for this pick, just because again, JT is really good football player and we’re talking about him in ways that he could be a first round pick and.

A first round pick going this late, I think, kind of proves how deep Ohio State’s team is going into 2024.

Stephen Means (40:29.247)

Nathan, I have a question for you. Let’s take the Penn State game off the table here because it’s such an outlier that it’s not a real thing. It’s just, we were there, it was cool, but it’s also a mythical performance to expect any human being to repeat that. The two sacks, the two interceptions, the pick six, the forced fumble. That’s too much, right? I don’t even know if I could do that on a video game if I tried to do it. Take that off the table. What’s JT2MLO, Al’s best game as an Ohio State football player?

Nathan Baird (41:00.235)

I would say probably in the Notre Dame game, the win at Notre Dame last season where he’s making just the biggest plays of the game at the end of the game. And after playing all the snaps that he played in that game, again, he’s a special athlete. Like there’s something there that just hasn’t been completely unlocked. And it doesn’t look like it is a lack of athletic ability because we’ve seen it. And as much as you say, I don’t think you can ever expect someone to repeat those stats. But.

But scouts will say if they can do it once, they can do it again. And sometimes those single big performances will be drivers as to where guys get drafted, whatever. But the all -around athleticism that he has, we see the work he’s putting in. We’ve seen him be one of those guys that stays behind after practice, gets in extra work with Larry Johnson. I don’t think any of that is lacking. His mindset doesn’t seem to be lacking. It just feels like for whatever reason that...

Stephen Means (41:32.575)


Nathan Baird (41:57.323)

that turbo gear hasn’t like, it keeps kind of slipping out of it. Or maybe we’re just misreading it. And if you’d looked at, you know, a more nuanced look at the film would tell you that teams are doing things that neutralize him, whatever. It just seems like there is still more for him to do on a field and in a consistent way. And I think that’s really, you know, he is still mentioned really highly in all of these like pre -season.

these way too early NFL draft predictions. A lot of those aren’t, you know, some of those are dart throws. They’re saying, this guy was a five star and he’s still around and et cetera, four year starter for Ohio State. That’s gotta mean something. But some of that is guys getting Intel from NFL teams who have guys like this on their radar. And he could also end up being one of those guys that in a way he would fit on a certain NFL teams defensive front.

Maybe they get more out of him than Ohio State did statistically. But in terms of what his presence is, you know, just go ask James Franklin how much JT2 and Malau can change a game. And I think there’s a fear, a healthy fear and respect from every team that goes up against Ohio State that he could summon another performance like that any given week.

Stephen Means (43:17.375)

I would have picked the Notre Dame game too, because I think it’s under that umbrella. It’s not as extreme as the Penn State game, but the fact that he impacted the game in every way. He was stopping the run. I mean, he’s got the pass breakup at a very key point in the game. Like he impact that athleticism allows him to impact every facet of the game. It’s not just simply, I’m just going to go get a sack. I might get a key pass breakup here. You can drop me in coverage. I can stop the run. And so I don’t know if.

the numbers are always going to be there from a week to week basis. But the reason I asked you that question, because I’m trying to figure out what JT Twin Malo out dominating the Michigan game looks like. Because I think with Jack Sawyer, we know what it looks like at this point. he’s going to have two and a half plus sacks in this game. He’s just going to be a game record in the past game. And quarterbacks are going to feed him. They’re going to have to double team him at this point because one guy is not enough. I think JT Twin Malo out to your point, Nathan, you said a word.

is a little bit more nuanced than that. I don’t think you can. You can try to deal with Jack Sawyer if his best skill set is getting after the quarterback, right? You can double team him, you can chip him and do all that stuff. I don’t know if I’m not sure what the immediate game plan is to neutralize JT to him a little while when he can handle a game in that many different ways.

And so Jimmy, for me, that kind of pushed him up a list like this because it’s like, well, if you stop him from doing this, well, then he’s going to do this. If you stop him from doing this and he can just do this.

Jimmy Watkins (44:45.127)

The other thing is, he still had the same number of pressures as Jack Sawyer last year. And like, you can look at that one of two ways. It kind of depends on the player, right? If you ask a defensive line coach, why doesn’t X player who has all these pressures get more sacks? They might tell you, well, sacks don’t tell the whole story. There’s more plays you can make to disrupt a pass play, things of that nature. But if you ask a guy who, if you ask that same coach,

Stephen Means (44:49.947)


Jimmy Watkins (45:13.543)

you know, compare this guy on your team who has all these sacks to this other guy who has all these pressure like, well, it’s about finishing plays. It’s about motor. It’s about, you know, want to. So you can make those numbers say whatever you want. The fact is he’s getting back there. And then to make this point, maybe there’s, there’s more going on here. Like maybe they’re, maybe they’re showing more attention that on uncertain, uncertain downs that, that hurts his time to get off or, or something like that. But it’s JT2 on the low owl.

because of the athletic traits. I see, I totally see what NFL scouts are saying. They’re projecting for this. I see all these athletic traits and I see all these quote unquote other, you know, defense edge rusher things that he can do. Tip passes, drop into coverage, stop the run. And he’s already so close at the thing that catches everyone’s eye. I think there’s certainly a case to be made for him.

Andrew (46:06.862)

So if I could actually... Go ahead, Nathan.

Nathan Baird (46:07.467)

I just want to say, just real quick, I love the, if you ask defensive line coaches, yes, that’s what they would say. Now go ask a quarterback whether they’d rather be pressured or sacked.

Jimmy Watkins (46:17.031)

Good point.

Stephen Means (46:17.503)

Yeah, yeah.

Andrew (46:19.118)

The the I just wanted to jump in. I actually I actually thought that JT’s best game last year was actually not the Notre Dame game. I thought it was the Penn State game. I thought he was absolutely cooking Olu Fashanu for four quarters. Olu just he looked like he was trying to keep up and he just couldn’t really do it. I think we made a note of that in the press box. And I think you look at Stephen, you mentioned the you know, what is him dominating the Michigan game or what is him taking over the Michigan game look like?

I think you could have an impact in a myriad of different ways. Like the Penn State box score, he had one pass defense, he had one sack, one tackle. You’re looking at the box score going like, really? Yeah, and like the Notre Dame game, he had six tackles. So you’re like, well, that makes a lot of sense. Well, you know, you wonder, like, you know, you look at that last drive where they were like, okay, we got to make a play. So they switched JT and Jack. They got JT away from Joe Alton.

Stephen Means (47:01.439)

The film and the numbers don’t align.

Andrew (47:18.254)

What happened JT made two great plays and you know, pretty much and not pretty much literally saved the game for Ohio State. So I think that that might be maybe a better example. You know, you go up against a miles Hinton on the left side and it might not be a situation where he makes an impact in terms of sacks. It’s an impact of or impact in terms of tackles. It’s hey.

When we drop back to pass, like we gotta have a tight end on that side or miles is going to get cooked and and JT is just going to blow right by him and there’s nothing we can do. So I think that the explosiveness definitely might not show up on the box score or on the stat sheet. But I do think that, you know, games like that where if you can really just make an opposing tackle or left tackle, right tackle, if you can just make their lives miserable for a few hours, I think that might be the best answer for how we can kind of make.

an impact on the Ohio State Michigan game.

Stephen Means (48:15.455)

There is an element to JT where numbers don’t lie, but they also don’t always tell the full truth, right, with JT.

Jimmy Watkins (48:15.495)

Real quick.

Jimmy Watkins (48:21.575)

I also really like the idea of pass rushers as closers to games, right? Like your situation really matters at that position. I’m reminded of the really cool NFL mic’d up moment during the Rams -Bangles Super Bowl where McVeigh’s on the sideline like AD’s gonna make a play, like Aaron Donald’s making this play. And then he makes the play, he blows it up, forces Joe Burrow to, I think it was either throw the ball away or one hop a pass or something. And Sean McVeigh’s running around telling everyone, I knew it.

Stephen Means (48:27.935)


Jimmy Watkins (48:51.047)

I knew it and it’s like, that’s as much like your full body of work matters, but like the moments where JT saves the day against Notre Dame, like I’m gonna put a little bit of extra weight on that because that’s, it’s not just about how often you wreck the game, but when you wreck the game.

Stephen Means (49:08.671)

And that was the thing with Chase. Seven of his 16 and a half sacks came against Penn State in Wisconsin, and it felt like you felt all seven of those sacks and those because they mattered. Right. They held a little bit more weight than those other ones do where it’s like, OK, yeah, you’re dominating the game. But in these games, when you need them, that’s when you get them. I think that’s a very good point. Jimmy, you’re up your third third pick in this one. But the ninth pick in this thing, that’s what matters. Right. This is the ninth best player in the Ohio State, Michigan, 2024 game.

Jimmy Watkins (49:37.959)

So I’m going Colston -Lovland and I know that sort of bucks the methodology I was pitching earlier about like, show me the production, but Michigan pass catchers in general, it’s just hard to do that because of their style of play and lack of opportunities. But I think there’s a real chance this year that Colston -Lovland leads Michigan in targets.

I really think that because they just have, I’m not, like Tyler Morris, again, former like fringe top 100 recruit, they just grabbed a guy in the transfer portal who has put up some decent production at Youngstown State. But like if you come out of spring thinking, yeah, we got to add an FCS receiver, I don’t love where you’re at as a receiving group. So again, like Colston Loveland, I think could be a first round pick.

Nathan Baird (50:28.235)

No. No.

Jimmy Watkins (50:34.791)

I think he’ll probably be the first tight end off the board, whether it’s a first round pick or not next year. And I like, that’s just his place in Michigan’s offense makes a lot of sense to me as someone who could have a big impact on this game. We talked about it in earlier podcasts this week, Colston Loveland led Michigan in receiving during the Ohio State game and during the national championship game last year. I think he had like eight catches combined in those games, which again, speaks to lack of opportunity and the way Michigan orients its offense.

But he led the team in receiving yards both times. He was like, I did like a, you can do the PFF, like compare both of these teams at once. He was third among both of these teams last year in yards per catch 14 .5 behind Roman Wilson and Marvin Harrison Jr. Both of whom were just top 100 draft picks. I think there’s just a lot, like he’s, he’s shown us spurts in big moments. And I think there’s a lot left on the table. I think there will be more opportunity as well. Like I’m just picturing.

I’m just picturing teams throwing as many bodies at Michigan’s run game as possible, leaving, which leaves Colston Loveland one -on -one with a, either a linebacker that’s too slow or a defensive back that’s too small to keep up with him. And Michigan’s throwing little pop passes over the top or seam routes, all this kind of stuff. That’s really hard to defend. That’s like, I think that he might be the one, I mean, Donovan Edwards,

in a different way. He’s, he’s more dependent on the offensive line. I think Colson Loven is the one guy you could point out at Michigan’s offense and say, yeah, that guy could be a matchup problem.

Stephen Means (52:15.071)

I think you undersell production. And yes, Michigan doesn’t throw the ball that much. But the fact that Colson Loveland still had 45 catches for 649 yards and four touchdowns in that offense, which to your point doesn’t necessarily throw it around the yard. I think that’s production. I think this is a perfect spot to take him. And actually I did. Here’s Cade Stover’s per game numbers. He only played 12 games, so you can’t do the totals while Colson played 15. Cade Stover, 3 .4 catches per game for 42 .9 yards and 0 .4 touchdowns.

Jimmy Watkins (52:30.215)

That’s true, you have to like almost grade it on a curve.

Stephen Means (52:43.999)

per game last year. Colston Loveland, three catches a game for 43 .3 yards and .3 touchdown. Like they’re not that far off from each other. While Cade Stover played in an offense that loves to throw the ball around, while also being the second option because the number two option was hurt. And for whatever reason, Kyle McCord just didn’t like Julian Fleming. It’s more to that than that, but I’m just gonna make it be that. While Colston Loveland was, I don’t know, when a given day could go from being like the first option to the fifth option, depending on what Michigan and Sharon Moore want to do that day offensively.

So I think this is he’s dangerous. I think he’s the most he’s probably the most dangerous player Michigan has offensively coming into this game. And I know I said it when I just said about Donovan Edwards, but Nathan, we and we talked about this on an earlier part this week. We think we know what the answer is here and that’s hey, Sonny Styles is ready to do this. So let’s get ready for the Sonny Styles, Colston, Lovewin matchup on November 30th. But it’s not like we saw great.

coverage from Sonny Styles in 2023 that made you think that he is like ready to just dominate that matchup. In fact, where we are right now, six months out, it’s probably the responsible thing to say, if this is one of the five things that decides the Ohio State Michigan game, well, this is at least one place where Michigan has the advantage right now.

Nathan Baird (54:04.293)

unquestionably. This was easily my number one Michigan guy on offense. for all the reasons that Jimmy just said, like when you, when you start, you got to a certain tier of this, there’s a, there’s a tier where we’re like, okay, Caleb downs or Mason Graham, like, are they both on the short list of like the best defensive player in the country? Then you start looking at it more from like, okay, who might be on the short list of the best player at their position in the country? And that’s where Loveland.

jumped out to me, but then also on top of that, how crucial he is to Michigan’s offense became a bit of a tiebreaker and how he could be a featured weapon. Now, frankly, Ohio State has done pretty well against tight ends who are the featured weapon in an offense here the last couple of years, whether that was Notre Dame, whether that was Georgia, it wasn’t like Brock Bowers had a monster game against them in the Peach Bowl, and they found ways to win those matchups. But I think that...

As we talked about, yeah, like this is sort of all of the linebacker talk about Sonny Styles that goes back to the end of last season was very speculative in just in terms of his overall fit as a linebacker. We weren’t really thinking of it specifically about this matchup, but it might end up being the most important one that he faces all season.

Stephen Means (55:24.479)

So I’m up with the 10th best player in this game. And I kind of had like a couple of guys when I was trying to go through my list here. JT was involved in this little cluster of people here where I just kind of went with preference at the end of the day. And I went with Tylek Williams here as a guy who, look man, that dude.

It’s not often that you see the interior defensive tackle at his size, just be able to just be out there the way he was. He led the team in tackles for loss 10 last year, hit five pass breakups, which is an underrated thing. A defensive tackle Andrew with five pass breakups. So no, maybe you’re not getting home, but you’re still, you’re still disrupting things. 53 tackles as well. And we’ve talked about it a lot this year, Andrew.

Outside of Marvin Harrison Jr. Maybe he had the best case for being All -American status in 2023. And now he’s back in 2024, where the expectation is he’s just going to repeat what he did last year.

Andrew (56:24.366)

You cut out for me there, could you repeat that?

Stephen Means (56:27.039)

I said Tylee Williams is good. Did you have Tylee Williams this high?

Andrew (56:30.062)

Yeah, I had him in the same cluster. I think like you said, I think there were there were two guys that I had alongside him. They were all really close together for me. You know, you said personal preference. I, you know, I had three guys together, kind of ranked in order of personal preference. Tilek was third of those three for me. There are two other guys that I had, which I’ll give one of them in a second, but.

yeah, I mean, I mean, like you said, having a guy that can not only control the middle, but also make plays, make tackles, you know, you know, have passes defensed like that’s, that’s a huge deal. And especially when you’ve got a bigger body like that, you’re, you’re not just looking at them at him being like, Hey man, you’re like 330 pounds. Just, don’t get moved and let our linebackers make some plays. Great. Thanks.

That’s not what Ty Lake Williams is or did last year. And I think especially against a team like Michigan, that is presumably going to have a great offensive line again. You’re gonna need somebody like that in the middle of your defense. And so I really like Ty Lake Williams and I think this is fine.

Stephen Means (57:46.143)

So Nathan, to wrap this part of it up, Ty Leach III defensive lineman off the board here, in terms of Ohio State guys are concerned, is there any case that maybe he should be first or second based off of what he was able to do last year?

Nathan Baird (58:00.683)

Yes, he was first on my list. He was my number seven overall player. He was a head of Soria and Tumaloa on my list. He was better than him last year. He was a better football player than him. Like, what, who’s, like, he was just top, top beginning to the end of the season. He was the football player of the three. I thought the most impactful football player of the three on a consistent basis. He, he is, he was a bigger part of this defense’s shift or progress from being pretty good to like elite level again. Tylek Williams was a

Stephen Means (58:10.911)


Nathan Baird (58:30.347)

bigger reason for that because he took a jump that I would argue Tumaloau and Sawyer didn’t make. Sawyer more towards the end of last season, obviously. But Williams like just catapulted himself into a place where now he’s on the short list of the best interior defensive line guys in the country. I thought he was under accoladed at the end of last season for what I don’t know what the better word is. Under underrated, under rewarded.

He was just an integral piece of that defense. I mean, if you talk about, I know why Mason Graham has talked about the way he is. I don’t know why Tyleke Williams isn’t talked about in some similar conversations. He’s smaller. He’s a small defensive interior guy. But once you’ve proven yourself at that level, it’s not like we’re talking about someone like B .B. Landers, who was a smaller defensive tackle and very effective, but was in a rotation, wasn’t starting caliber first.

line all Big 10 kind of stuff. Like this is different. He makes it look different. And there’s a reason NFL scouts were interested in him at the start of last season. And once he kept building that interest only grew.

Stephen Means (59:43.487)

His numbers are better than Mason Graham. Now that comes with the caveat, he also played 203 more snaps than Mason Graham played last year. But still, his numbers are decently better than his. OK, that’s our top 10. Caleb Downs, Mason Graham, Will Johnson, Emeka, Buka, Trevion Henderson in the top five. Then the next five, Jack Sawyer, Jeremiah Smith, JT Tui, Maloal, Colston Loveland, and Tyleek Williams. So three Michigan guys in the top 10 and seven Ohio State guys in the top 10. We’re going to take another break here and then come back and Nathan will pick number 11 for us here on Buckeye Talk.

So we’ve made it out of the top 10, which means we’ve officially done what they do in the normal NFL draft where the first two days are extremely long and ridiculous. And now we’re going to kind of fly through this a little bit and do what they typically do on day three as we talk about 11 through 20. Nathan, you are up. Who is the 11th best player between these two teams?

Nathan Baird (01:00:31.883)

Well, before we do that, I think there’s something we have to talk about. We did a top 10 between the biggest rivalry game and a team that just won a national championship, a team that wants to win one. We did not pick a quarterback in the top 10. And I think especially on the Ohio State side of things, to think that in any given year, under the Ryan Day structure, that your quarterback won’t be considered in mid -May, again, getting into late May.

one of the 10 best players in the game, that seems like a thing that Ohio State has to overcome more than the Michigan has to overcome it to have success for this season and in this game. Like it seems like when we do this exercise, well, when Buckeye Talk does this exercise again, if you do it the week of the Michigan game and see how things have changed, it feels like we need to be talking about a quarterback being in the top 10, because I’m not about to pick one. So there’s not going to be a quarterback in the top.


Stephen Means (01:01:32.095)

Okay, yes, valid point. So here’s the real question then, because Ohio State’s also bringing in a new quarterback. So in 2021, there wouldn’t have been a quarterback in the top 10 for Ohio State. In 2019, there probably would not have been a quarterback in the top 10. And then going into last year, there probably wouldn’t have either. So let’s do the, if Kyle McCord doesn’t transfer, is Kyle McCord in the top 10?

Nathan Baird (01:01:56.395)

No, but I think that’s still part of the problem.

Stephen Means (01:01:59.679)

I don’t, I think the fact that it’s a new guy lessens it, but not to, but to your point, it doesn’t take it all the way down to it’s not that big of a deal. Let’s check back in after they played football because the options are a guy who’s been in the program for third year and a guy who just led a team to a big 12 conference championship. So it’s like somewhere in the middle of that, of like, let’s it’s like, it’s not the biggest deal in the world right now, but it’s, it’s not nothing, but it’s not all the way something either. If that makes sense. All right.

Jimmy Watkins (01:02:26.279)

It’s a new guy, but it’s a new guy with a lot of starting experience. It’s not like he’s an unknown. And he’s a guy who we just said the old guy would not be in the top 10. And the new guy is supposed to be an upgrade over the old guy. So we have an upgrade. It’s not like, I don’t know what Will Howard is. I mean, if it’s Devin Brown, okay, maybe. We need more information there. But we have enough to decide whether Will Howard belongs on the list. We all decided no.

Stephen Means (01:02:31.583)


Stephen Means (01:02:37.823)


Stephen Means (01:02:53.375)

What I’m saying is it’s worth talking about and it’s worth saying yes, the quarterback not being in the top 10 by the time we do, if we were to do this exercise again in six months, that’s a big problem. But I don’t know if like there’s major alarms, Ohio State’s in trouble, bells going off in my head just yet about it.

Nathan Baird (01:03:11.595)

I just think that this is not, as I kind of said on the pot earlier this week, I just don’t think this is, this is not how Ohio state would design this. Like, and I think even like 2019, I might dispute like, you know, Justin Fields was an unknown, but he was an unknown. We did know that he was the number one, or never gets number two prospect in his class, but like a darn near perfect rating as a quarterback, as a recruit, and had gotten on the field as a true freshman.

Stephen Means (01:03:20.447)

Right, that’s fair.

Nathan Baird (01:03:40.299)

for Georgia in a specialized way. I mean, I think people would have made a case, I think, if someone had taken him in the top 10 that year in this same draft, it would have been an interesting conversation. But if someone had taken Will Howard or Devin Brown in the top 10 of this, we would have been like, what are you talking about?

Stephen Means (01:03:57.791)

I think just from experience of the people who would have been doing that pod. We’re also talking about a time when one of us on this pod thought they were going nine and three that year. So I’m not sure, I’m not for certain Justin Fields would have been taken. Now would you have been more comfortable with the idea that he would be on the list by November? Sure.

I don’t know if he would have been taken, but the point is still stands though. Yes, if we are still talking about this the same way in six months where whether Will Howard or Devin Brown, whichever one wins this job is not on this list, then we have a problem on our hands. Maybe not for that game, depending on what Michigan turns into, but just for the totality of what Ohio State season could be. So it’s still a fair point to bring up Nathan. But with that being said, who is number 11?

Nathan Baird (01:04:47.339)

I’m going back to defense for Ohio State. And that’s one of the reasons why we haven’t picked a quarterback either is this defense is just so talented. But I’ll take Denzel Burke here. He is probably, again, based on the national evaluations, I understand why he is not thought of on the same level as Will Johnson. I’m going to give him some extra credit here for some intangible things that he does and means for Ohio State.

Stephen Means (01:04:52.255)


Nathan Baird (01:05:16.715)

the same way that you might have done in the past for, you know, various players at Michigan, various players at Ohio State. Like he, and it, you know, maybe you shouldn’t get the extra credit because it didn’t really push them across the top last year, but from every week in week out, he’s a guy who, in addition to being a really, really strong cornerback means a lot to this team in terms of accountability, in terms of leadership, in terms of sort of taking on,

the face of the franchise mode a little bit, even though there’s probably some guys who even get more accolades. I think people look at Denzel Burke as the voice of this defense. And this year that’s going to matter again because the expectations are so high and he’s going to have even higher expectations. He’s going to be the one who is quick to push back on the people.

who are fawning over this defense and say, no, we’ve got to be better in this way, this way, this way. And, you know, he helps keep this defense is head level. I think that’s going to be important in the season ahead.

Stephen Means (01:06:24.095)

He was where he was in this cluster for me with Jack JT, Ty League and Denzel and I wasn’t sure I was almost fine with any of the order here and I was I’ve heard a case for any of those guys being first and being fourth in that order there. Andrew, are you going to pick Davis Nick, but no sit next?

Andrew (01:06:42.734)

I’m going to pick Davison Ibn Nossin next. I had him above Denzel. Yeah, that’s fine. Here’s the thing with Davison. I think he’s Ohio State’s best corner. I think the...

Stephen Means (01:06:45.759)

Look at me annoying my coworkers, man. Look at me.

Stephen Means (01:06:57.791)

Well, before you continue, Jimmy, Davidson, egg, but no sin is Andrew’s Jeremiah Smith.

Andrew (01:07:02.222)

I, yeah. Yeah. This dude, this is, this is a dude. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I wonder if there’s going to be a pod in a couple of months where I’m like, actually, tons of books really good. People need to start talking about that kind of work. but Davidson, I think is, is their best corner. I, for all the reasons that I have mentioned on previous pods for a while, I love his length. I love his physicality. I love his size.

Jimmy Watkins (01:07:06.119)

People forget about Denzel Burke. Is that what’s happening here?

Stephen Means (01:07:08.319)

Yeah, man!

Andrew (01:07:29.774)

I just, the intangibles are there for Davison. I think his cover skills are really solid too. I think that that maybe goes, you know, a little bit, you know, that’s at least second or third of what people note just because of kind of the physical makeup of him. But having that guy on the outside is something that’s really, really just impressive and really, really valuable to a defense. You know, I mentioned this before at NFL team, it’s, you know,

maybe the best play caller in the NFL right now is running an offense based on the fact that an NFL team 30 years ago was like, what if we just decided to run at corners? And it worked. If you run East West and you run at the littler guys, you can make a lot of money doing that. And that worked. And Davis McBinnowsen is kind of the kryptonite for that. Because if you have a corner that’s willing to get in, kind of get in the fray and tackle and knows how to tackle, that’s a big deal.

Jimmy, I think it was greedy Williams who played for the Browns who just had no idea how to tackle. And he just would like ram his head straight into a defender and always got hurt. And like he’s the opposite of greedy Williams. And I think Davison’s their best corner. And I think in a game like this, when you’re playing a team that can run the ball, especially a team, maybe that doesn’t have as good of a passing attack as last year, if we’re taking it for the Michigan game, certainly I’m taking Davison ahead of him because I think Davison.

has a chance to better impact the game than Denzel does, especially in the mission game. I also just think that Davidson...

Stephen Means (01:09:01.951)

We’re going to keep moving through this year. Jimmy, you’re up. I mean, go write the Davis and Eggman -Nose story already, OK? Jimmy, you’re up next.

Andrew (01:09:03.118)


Jimmy Watkins (01:09:11.111)

People throw at Davis and Nick Binoza more often too. So that’s just by virtue of probably a better chance to impact the game, right? So.

Stephen Means (01:09:17.887)

One’s boundary, one’s field. That’s football.

Jimmy Watkins (01:09:19.751)

Great. well, I guess I’m going to take another running back and I’m going to take Quin -Shawn Judkins.

Stephen Means (01:09:28.159)

Okay, before you, the way you’re toned there, was there just like a split in terms of like how we’re talking about? Cause we were kind of running through this list and now you’re just kind of like, well, okay, we’re at pick 13 at this point. Is there a divide between the top 12 guys on this list and where we’re going now?

Jimmy Watkins (01:09:33.255)

Yeah, we’re...

Jimmy Watkins (01:09:42.247)


Jimmy Watkins (01:09:46.663)

I think we’ve hit a couple of divides, but yeah, we’re in another one now where it’s like, we’re now, it’s guys, we’re going from guys who have seen do it, capital I it, in the same exact scenery that they’re in right now to either guys that we’re gonna project can do it, or guys that have done it somewhere else. And I think Quinn Sean Judkins fits the ladder of prescription pretty well there, because we’re talking about.

production. I mean, 3000 scrimmage yards, 34 touchdowns at Ole Miss. This guy’s a feature back. And I think I, and I’m not alone in this, was pretty surprised that Ohio State, I mean, I’m wondering, I’m trying to remember back about the order of operations here, but like for Ohio State to end up with him and Trevion Henderson was a surprising outcome, either because Ohio State thought Trevion Henderson was going to the NFL.

or because it’s a very unique situation to have a running back that you already feel really good about and then go get another, not only go get another guy that is at least as good as him, but also convince that guy to do it. So it’s twofold in that way because Quinshawn Judkins, I think it says a lot about him that he’s willing to do this. It says a lot about his willingness to split the load.

Because in theory, part of this transfer, I mean Ole Miss, you’re already playing in the SEC, you’re already playing some of the best competition in the country. But part of this is to put yourself on a playoff stage, get more NFL eyes on you, and increase your draft stock. It’s also harder to do that if you’re splitting carries. So it’s like, I like the mindset that he’s coming into it with because it shows you that he’s a little bit more about we over me. I also think he’s very important in this.

particular game because yes, as Stephen has mentioned, Travion Henderson might be a little bit underrated running between tackles, but that’s Quinchon Judkins’ bread and butter. Like this guy, this guy, every time he hits someone, they move backwards and every, he’s always, he’s always seemingly falling forward or like squirming out of a crowded line of scrimmage. When you, when you watch his highlights, he does all these kinds of things. And as, as we talk about,

Jimmy Watkins (01:12:10.407)

Ohio State may be trying to pivot in its own way, again, not seven offensive linemen or three tight ends, but in its own way, trying to mirror the Michigan offensive philosophy, just in terms of taking a little bit more off the quarterback’s plate and using the run game to do that. Quincheon Judkins is a very important player on that quest.

Stephen Means (01:12:32.959)

I don’t know what was more shocking, the fact that they were able to keep both of them or the fact that Ole Bliss misled the guy who was getting ready to tear their record books to shreds walk the way that happened. Honestly, I just like, and maybe it’s the latter because just cause I knowing Trevion Henderson back to his recruiting days, he’s always been good with sharing the backfield with somebody. In fact, it’s why he signed up to be in the Ohio State’s 21 recruiting class with another top 100 back. Now, Evan Prior obviously injuries got in the way there, so he wasn’t able to, you know, turn into much here, but he’s always been down for this because.

He’s always been about maintaining his body and making sure he can get to that second contract in the NFL. And if adding a guy like Quin -Shon Judkins helps him do that, then he’s gonna do that. So maybe the latter was more shocking for me, but still, Quin -Shon Judkins deserves to be on this list. I’m up next. I’m going with Jordan Hanco*ck because he is now a key cog in all this, because he’s not sharing a spot anymore with Sonny Styles. Now, some of this, Nathan, will be game by game basis, maybe, but also we’ve talked about this in a way of like,

how can you take Jordan Hanco*ck off the field with the way he covers in the slot? But then also he’s pretty good in the run game as well. So we did a do your job pod a couple of months ago and I think he maybe had an argument to be higher than what we ended up putting him in that situation. And I think, but in this situation where you’re just talking about raw talent, he might fit in perfectly right here. Did you consider Hanco*ck at all in this position?

Nathan Baird (01:13:55.115)

I have him barely in my top 20. I have him below styles. Again, when I’m just going by like pound for pound best football player, some of this is projecting a little bit that now they found the best role for styles where he can get maximized a little bit. But also when I was thinking ahead to this particular matchup, on a week to week basis, you wonder how you could take Jordan Hanco*ck off the field. But if people can go back and listen, we kind of spelled out exactly how you would take him off the field for this game.

because it just might make the most sense from a defensive alignment perspective against a team that plays with this many big formations. Jim Knowles got into this last year that it wasn’t so much that they love Jordan Hanco*ck at nickel, but when you start playing 12 personnel or 66 personnel, like whatever the heck Michigan’s doing with all those offensive linemen and tight ends, he isn’t necessarily the best fit for that. So.

That was a little bit of a tiebreaker for me for why I went with Styles because I think even though he had some moments in the Michigan game last year that didn’t reflect well on him because he wasn’t really playing the position he should be playing, he was trying to help Ohio State the best he could after, with Ransom being out and his back being a little bit against the wall, I still see the way that he could maybe be the difference maker in this game the way that maybe Hanco*ck can.

Stephen Means (01:15:18.335)

So a style, so you’d pick next here just for the sake of moving this long. Okay. Okay. Okay. Let’s get, let’s move into that. Where are you going next?

Nathan Baird (01:15:23.755)

no. He wasn’t my, he wasn’t my next pick on my list, no.

Nathan Baird (01:15:32.075)

well, this is where I’m going to take Will Howard. And at some point, this is just positional value because you’ve got a quarterback here who has won rivalry games. He’s, you know, at Kansas state, they beat Kansas the last two years and, Kansas is not Michigan the last two years, but Kansas was also a good football program the last couple of years, and especially, you know, doing some things last year. And it matters that you can go in and win those games. And he has been on the field.

against a playoff team on a neutral field in a conference championship game and he won that game too. And at some point, even though there’s guys who I think are more skilled at their position that we haven’t named yet, it matters to me that you are a quarterback who has done those things. You have been in those situations and you have prevailed. And Common Core like started to get there, like going to Notre Dame last year, winning that game. We thought that that was maybe gonna be.

the difference and would propel him towards something. And I don’t know if it was the ankle or what exactly, but it just never, he didn’t get to the finish line. And Will Howard’s season now, assuming he ends up being the starting quarterback, and that’s a reason not to even pick someone in the top 20, I guess, since we don’t know for sure that he’s gonna be the starting quarterback. But I’m just banking on right now that Ryan Day looks at a guy now who has been in the moment and got the job done.

and that they can take the skills he has, enhance them in this offense with him, with Chip Kelly, and that they are banking on when it comes to the moment in Ohio Stadium on November 30th, that those intangibles help push Ohio State across the finish line for the first time since 2019.

Stephen Means (01:17:17.823)

So real quickly for everybody Nathan you can go first here you took will Howard here. I Probably would take him here as well If you’re gonna take a quarterback if Kyle McCord is still here do you take him in at this exact same spot? Or higher or lower?

Nathan Baird (01:17:37.547)

I would probably take him a little higher. Even I would probably have had him ahead of the running backs. I think there is it’s the, it’s the position where you grade on a curve the most. And I think it would also be saying something right now that Ohio state was like locked in on it, starting quarterback potentially. And unless Devin Brown had pushed him again in the spring, cause common quarters to hear, well, Howard’s not.

Stephen Means (01:17:46.271)


Stephen Means (01:17:53.247)

Mm -hmm.

Stephen Means (01:18:01.247)

Mm -hmm.

Nathan Baird (01:18:05.995)

most likely. I don’t know, maybe, maybe. Because then now that gets complicated with you bringing in Will Howard and Julian Sayen. There is a point at where it’s too many. Yeah. But like, Devin Brown could have beaten out Common Core for the job. And then I think maybe Devin Brown would even be higher on the list. There were things at play there. But I, you know.

Stephen Means (01:18:17.055)

Six quarterback room is disgusting.

Nathan Baird (01:18:31.659)

ComaCord wasn’t good enough to win the game last year, but he wasn’t the single reason they lost the game last year, as much as I think there are people who want to keep the full, or the lion’s share of the blame on him. And there’s every reason to think that ComaCord coming back for a second year with an improved running game around him, he would have, assuming a healthy ankle, it could have looked better this year. It could have been the...

10, 15 % better, that was really the difference between how we thought about him and how fans thought about him last year. So yeah, I think he probably would have been a smidge higher, but same range.

Stephen Means (01:19:11.935)

and you higher or lower are the same.

Andrew (01:19:15.246)

Probably about the same. I think maybe like a pick or so higher, but I think we’re in the ballpark of where I would have had him going too.

Stephen Means (01:19:25.279)


Jimmy Watkins (01:19:28.103)

I would say about the same. I just want to read a quick Will Howard stuff that I did research on the story that I have today about the similarities between Ohio State and Michigan. Will Howard played six ranked teams over his last two seasons as a starter at Kansas State. I did not look into his freshman season where he was a little green and got thrown into the fire after an injury. 50 .7 completion percentage, 1 ‚512 yards, 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions. That completion percentage is...

very low. But overall, I think that just gives you a picture of like 1500 yards in six games. That’s pretty good. 12 touchdowns, two touchdowns a game. That’s pretty good. And there are games like last year against Texas, I think he threw for like, that was his best game of the year. 340 some yards and like three touchdowns. He also against Oklahoma State, the other ranked team he started against last year, one touchdown, three interceptions, ghastly completion percentage. So it’s just like,

It feels like we’re still kind of riding a roller coaster with the quarterback, which is what we’re doing with Kyle McCord. And that’s not where you want to be. I think obviously Ohio State probably sees more room for growth there or maybe a way where Will Howard’s legs can affect the game in a way that Kyle McCord couldn’t, but it’s very fair to put them in the same tier.

Nathan Baird (01:20:52.875)

I really think I would be very surprised if Ohio State both wins a national championship this season and we don’t look back at this list and say that was too low for Will Howard or whichever quarterback. Like, you know what I mean? Like I think, I think those things probably have to go hand in hand that we have to be a little bit pessimistic about ranking him here or ranking Ohio State’s starting quarterback here and Ohio State coming through and winning a national championship as good as this defense is.

as good as the running backs are, as much receiver talent as there is. We saw last year, some of those things were true almost to the same degree and they couldn’t win even this game, let alone a national championship with that group, without having better quarterback play.

Stephen Means (01:21:38.335)

No, but the tone can change, right? Because some of these guys on this list are still gonna be the guys on this list. They’re gonna be as good as they’re gonna be. But the tone around that, like we did, the thing I asked Jimmy earlier about is there like a separation here? It doesn’t have to be a separation. He can be in with that group even if he’s still on the lower end of that group because everybody else in this game is still who they are. But, and even the some of the numbers you printed out there, Jimmy.

They’re not great numbers in terms of efficiency. No, they’re not. But also, you know, he’s never had a group of receivers like this, right, who are constantly three, four yards open and whatnot. So by the midpoint of the end of the Oregon game, we’re going to know whether or not Will Howard’s better than Coma Court simply because that’s going to be the first time we see him against a good team. And we can then actually compare their numbers against quality football teams and see who was better because I’m assuming whoever the quarterback is.

Jimmy Watkins (01:22:10.919)

Of course, of course.

Stephen Means (01:22:31.839)

There’s a baseline of efficiency simply because of what the talent is around him. Do you maximize it, though? Do you make do you take it from floor and do you make it a ceiling? C .J. Straub made it a ceiling. Justin Fields made the ceiling. Kyle McCord didn’t necessarily make it a ceiling. What does what does Will Howard make it a ceiling? Or is he at the floor or is he at somewhere in the middle? We’re going to know. But I think right now 15 is fine. I don’t have a problem with it. I also know that if he’s 15 at the end of the year and he’s still just the 15th, he’s still like the 12th best player.

on a home -stay football team, that can be a compliment or it can be an insult depending on how the season plays out. Okay, go ahead.

Jimmy Watkins (01:23:07.815)

Can I just say real quick, that Oregon point you made? Yes, we’ll know by the end of the Oregon game whether he’s ready for this or whatever. It’d be really cool if we could know a little bit earlier than that. Like that non -con schedule. Yeah, I’m just saying.

Stephen Means (01:23:19.071)

You gotta talk to ADs man. Go talk to Ross Bjork about that, okay? You can’t do me, man.

Nathan Baird (01:23:26.283)

But I’m also just not sure I agree with that though, because again, CommaCord, Notre Dame, like we thought that that proved something, but it still wasn’t enough to get Ohio State where it needed to get.

Jimmy Watkins (01:23:39.239)

17 points.

Stephen Means (01:23:41.247)

Yeah, it proves some things, but I think Andrew was probably on it a little bit more about that. Yeah, but there are a couple of times in that game where things get a little left. So, but to your point. I don’t like we don’t have to.

Andrew (01:23:42.51)


Andrew (01:23:49.71)

Yeah, ball... Yeah, yeah, there was just... Yeah, exactly. The game -winning touchdown was their 17th point.

Stephen Means (01:23:56.511)

Yeah, that’s what it is. OK, that’s our next five. We’ve got Denzel Burke, Davidson, Ibn Nusran, Quin John Judkins, Jordan Hanco*ck and Will Howard. And we’ll take our last break here and close out with the final five of our top 20 with Andrew up to make pick number 16 here on Buckeye Talk.

And we’re back on Book Eye Talk, our final five of this four sectioned ranking of a top 20. Andrew, you are ranking number 16 here. Who is just next up on your overall list?

Andrew (01:24:24.654)

Kenneth Grant, defensive tackle out of Michigan. I think he’s probably underrated on our list of top 20. I think he should be closer to top 10 than he is top 20. This is a freak. Look at a couple of Michigan recruiting classes and draft classes over the last couple of years and say, well, you have to project a little bit because he hasn’t played. OK, well, Mazze Smith was a first round pick and he’s gone now. And Chris Jenkins was a top 50 pick and he’s gone to the NFL now.

And you have Mason Graham, who everybody’s talking about as a top, you know, 32 pick. Everybody’s talking about him as a first round pick. He’s going to play on this defensive line along with Kenneth Grant. Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant came in the same recruiting class together and Jim Harbaugh told, I forget if it was reporters or, you know, one of those NIL meetings or whatever. He said that they were quote gifts from the football gods. in, in reference to Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant. I mean, that’s a very Jim Harbaugh quote, but that.

I think it kind of underscores how good he is. He’s like 340 pounds. And if you look up like some of his big plays from last year, one of them was against Alabama in the Rose bowl. And wouldn’t you know, he drove back Seth McLaughlin and then had a really ridiculous spin move for somebody who’s 340 pounds and made a sack and against Penn State, he chased down. It was either Nick Singleton or Kate Ron Allen. He chased them down.

30 yards down the field and what is like 120 pounds heavier than those guys? That’s crazy.

Jimmy Watkins (01:25:56.615)

Bro, the Washington play, the national championship game play, dude, not only, not only did he.

Andrew (01:25:58.542)

That’s exactly what I was gonna say next. He’s driving the left guard back and picked him up and put him down. It’s crazy.

Jimmy Watkins (01:26:05.671)

I know, I know Kaylin D ‘Avore left for Alabama. That man transferred. That man transferred after getting thrown around by Kenneth Grant. I know Kaylin D ‘Avore left and that probably also played a role. Let’s say Joe Mo - Yes, that’s a member of a Joe Moore award winning offensive line and Kenneth Grant said, excuse me.

Andrew (01:26:10.062)


Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen Means (01:26:16.639)

So you’re saying Kenny the Gramp picked him up and put him in the transfer portal. That’s what you’re saying.

Andrew (01:26:24.686)

Yeah, so yeah, Kenneth Grant. I think he’s he’s a ridiculous freak. I think you know the athletic does that freaks list every year. I think he might be on it. You know, I think he should be on it. I think when you look at Michigan’s defensive tackles. If you thought there was going to be a break that you know, Mozzie Smith is gone and Chris Jenkins is gone and Mason Graham. Now it’s they don’t know high state. Superior offensive line is going to have a lot more problems and I’m not saying that they can’t solve them, but.

they’re going to be problems that they have to solve because Kenneth Grant is a very, very good football player. And like I said, I think frankly, he should be closer to the top 10 on a list like this and it should be top 20 or towards 20.

Stephen Means (01:27:02.687)

Ohio State wanted this kid back in 2022. He I mean, he’s six, four, 240 pounds. He looks like 300. Excuse me. That’s a very big difference. He looks like what Georgia puts out there on its defensive line in a given year. That’s yet. He probably should be higher on this list, but I understand like the guys, it’s not like there’s guys ahead of him who were scrubbed, so I get it, but also he’s only the.

Andrew (01:27:09.39)

340 pounds.

Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen Means (01:27:27.647)

fourth Michigan player who’s been taken, which I think we can wrap up a conversation about that. But Jimmy, you’re up with your final pick.

Jimmy Watkins (01:27:34.983)

going on the running back king. I’m taking Donovan Edwards. again, because I want to talk about him. I did take all three. I am, I am. And they’re, trade rounds definitely too high. I think, I don’t know, Donovan, Donovan Edwards, based on what happened last year, you could argue he shouldn’t be on the list. Here’s a crazy stat. So Donovan Edwards averaged 4 .2 yards per carry last year, which as the kids say is mid.

Stephen Means (01:27:40.287)

Did you take all three running backs? Are you responsible for their placement on this ranking?

Jimmy Watkins (01:28:02.567)

He averaged 17 per carry in the national championship game. You take that national championship game performance out of that. He averaged less than 3 .5 yards per carry. This is their feature back. Now, we know he’s good. We know he has a high, he has the recruiting pedigree of a star player. We know, we’ve seen what he can do on big stages, 200 plus yards against Ohio State in 2022. You can’t just take as much as I just did. You can’t just take away.

the two game breaking runs that he made in the national championship game last year. But...

The Michigan is also reshuffling its entire offensive line. They are less threatening than they have ever been in recent history and since they’ve been really good in the passing game. I don’t know who the starting quarterback is going to be, but I would probably take Cade McNamara over whoever it’s going to be if it’s a guy that’s on that roster right now. So Michigan’s gonna see more box defenders.

If it’s possible, they already were. I just wonder what this looks like. I think Donovan is a very talented player, but I also think he had a really weird season last year, and he’s going to be in an interesting situation this year.

Stephen Means (01:29:22.175)

He’s also the only person between these two rosters who has completed a pass in the Ohio State Michigan game so far.

So he has done with Will Howard, Alex RG, Devin Brown, Jack Tuttle have not done in the game.

Andrew (01:29:33.262)

Is Donovan Edwards the best quarterback in this game?

Jimmy Watkins (01:29:44.519)

Michigan could do worse than Diamond Upward Wildcat this year. They could do worse.

Stephen Means (01:29:48.487)

I don’t know how good Donovan Edwards is. I think I don’t know what he is. I don’t know if he’s what we saw last season. I don’t know if he’s what we saw in 2022 for most of that year, but especially in the Ohio State Michigan game. As you mentioned, Jimmy, what we saw in the national championship game. I know he can be explosive, but now it’s like to your point, the reshuffle. They got some guys back because they were playing 73 million people on the offensive line. It’s not like they’re still going to have a really good offensive line, but he’s no longer the number two guy.

Jimmy Watkins (01:30:12.615)

Right, right, right.

Stephen Means (01:30:17.887)

anymore. He’s now the guy. And so what does that look like for him all season? But then also what does it look like in a game like this? I think he deserved to be picked. And I

Jimmy Watkins (01:30:27.879)

It also should be noted 30 catches last year. A lot of those are checked downs and there will be plenty of check down opportunities this year, but like that’s another element of his game.

Stephen Means (01:30:30.751)

You right, right.

Stephen Means (01:30:36.703)

So I think all three running backs deserve to be picked. I think maybe they could have been grouped together a little bit more. And the order of them, maybe you can kind of argue with here. Okay, I’ve got my last pick here. And I’m gonna take Sonny Styles here. Because I mean, Nathan, to everything you said earlier, I had Jordan Hanco*ck over Sonny Styles on my list. So that’s why I took Jordan earlier. But I’m gonna take Sonny Styles here because I’m expecting some level of a jump. Is he a starter in 2024?

maybe CJ Hicks is just the starter, but I’m not expecting Sonny Styles to go from playing north of 400 snaps last year to playing 150 this year. I’m expecting him to still have a role. And if he is just well, what’s his role? Well, he’s Sonny Styles. Well, then, OK, that’s good. He’s going to have 11 games to perfect being Sonny Styles. And by the time he gets to this game, maybe he is a little bit more ready to take on Colston Love. Maybe he is ready to be everything that they thought he could be when he first got here, because we have to remember.

He’s a year ahead of where he should be because he’s only supposed to be in year two, but he showed up a year early. He’s still only 20 years old. So I think from a sheer football standpoint to your point, Nathan, I think he’s one of the more, he’s probably one of the 10 most talented guys between these two rosters. It’s just, he’s transitioning again. And so you keep him, you almost buy low with the expectation that the price is going to go up as the season prolongs itself.

Nathan Baird (01:32:03.115)

Yeah, I had him in my top 20 and some of it is a projection. You know, there were guys on this Ohio State defense that I didn’t have in this top 20. You know, I think they’re really good football players and some of them is because they’ve done even less than Sonny Styles or because it there, you know, maybe they you don’t see the way that they single handedly could impact any game, let alone this game the same way. But no, I think it’s.

It’s been building to this, like getting them on the field against Georgia, you know, getting him in the starting lineup last year and having him have a big role. It’s all been building towards this. And now it’s just a matter of how they deploy him. And I don’t think we have the answer on how they’re going to do that, but we definitely have enough.

ideas about how they could do it that it’s It’s just it’s it’s maybe only limited by Jim Knowles’s creativity and as we know he’s pretty creative

Stephen Means (01:33:03.007)

Okay Nathan, you’ve got guy number 19 and the last time you’re going to pick a guy in this ranking.

Nathan Baird (01:33:11.531)

I’m going to take the Ohio state receiver who actually is the forgotten Ohio state receiver this year, not, not a Mecca Buca. I think it’s Carnell Tate who a year ago at this time and going into last season, you know, Marvin Harrison Jr. was just over the moon about how good Carnell Tate was. And he got on the field as a true freshman. It wasn’t like he was out there doing amazing game breaking things week by week, but we’ve seen what it means for a true freshman to.

get on the field and get real snaps in a room that is this stocked. And that was coming off of just, you know, a horrible personal tragedy in the off season and how he was able to like refocus and get on a football field was admirable. So I think he’s the one that maybe we’ve forgotten how good he could be. And in a game like this, then when you start comparing these teams,

You still see the defensive back talent that Michigan is going to have, but is it going to get three deep where they can really be shutting down three of these guys at the same time? Seems unlikely.

Stephen Means (01:34:20.383)

So the problem with Cardinal Tate is Marvin said all that stuff and then the season got weird and then the Cotton Bowl got really weird and so we were never able to see it pay off the way that it paid off with Marvin in 2021 where it’s like we’re hearing stuff like hey Marvin’s doing all this stuff behind the scenes and then because they didn’t make the playoff Marvin got a chance to show the world and so we got to spend nine months hyping it up. I think I drove the bus for Marvin that year. I said he was going to break Ohio State’s touchdown record and he came close.

He had 14, the record 17, so he came close to it. Listen, man, OK, the point still stands. That dude’s awesome. But it’s just we got to see the sneak preview of Marvin and Emeka and really Marvin before Marvin became Marvin. Carnell was robbed of that on top of the fact that.

Nathan Baird (01:34:52.843)

that close.

Stephen Means (01:35:09.151)

the five star receiver that was in his class was going through his first spring. And so we’re intrigued by that. And then another five star shows up named Jeremiah Smith, who just kind of steals the show. So to Nathan’s point, that’s how you become underrated in that room where it’s like nothing’s changed in your development and your progress. In fact, Brian Hartline said it during the spring. There’s only two guys who are repping at multiple spots right now. And it’s a Mecca book and it’s carnel tape, but it’s just.

He’s not the new shiny toy and yet he is still the new shiny toy. He’s just not the shiniest toy in the toy box, Andrew. So like any consideration to Cardinal Tate still being on the same path that we’ve expected him to be on where year one, he has a small world. Year two, he breaks out. He might be the next first round wide receiver.

Andrew (01:35:54.606)

Yeah, with some of these guys, there was obviously some projection that you had to do just because you have the known quantities, which I feel like went fairly early. I mean, the only lone exception would be like Jeremiah and I guess Will Howard. But for the most part, I think they were kind of known. And now you have to start projecting a little bit. And I think a projection of Carnell Tate being really good is fair. I think that that’s a possibility for sure.

So yeah, I had him on the list. I had him towards the bottom, but he was definitely on the top 20 for me. He was there. The talent’s undeniable. He might be the third best receiver in this receiving corps, but the talent’s there.

Stephen Means (01:36:44.767)

So wrap us up, Danju, with player number 20.

Andrew (01:36:47.822)

Yeah, this was weird. There were a couple of guys that I was looking to pick and, you know...

It was hard because again, some of this is projection, but I’m going to go Miles Hinton. He’s Michigan’s left tackle this year. He’s the lone holdover from last year’s unit. I think it’s a little bit in the same concept of an argument as the Kenneth Grant point is, is that look, man, sometimes you just got to wait behind really good players. And this is a dude that looks the part of a first round pick.

Right? I mean, he like this is a dude who you look at and you’re like, yeah, that’s what they look like. That’s the you know, that’s a top 50 NFL draft pick. That’s a top, you know, 40 whatever. Like this is a he’s a really athletic player. He’s really big. He’s really physical. You know, you read a bunch of different stuff about Michigan and it’s all what can consistency be the thing for him here? You know, can consistency, you know, really, you know, can that be the name of the game for him? And and I think that if you put that together,

You’re talking about a really, really high level football player, not just, you know, hey, look, this guy is like a fourth round pick. No, no, this guy would be like a first or second round pick if he’s able to put that together. And you would think, you know, maybe with a full year of starting, he would be able to do that. So I had him. He was actually last or 19th, I guess, on my list because we had I didn’t have Jordan Hanco*ck, but he was second to last on my list. I think it’s fair to have a guy like Miles on this list. Just.

Kind of mapping everything out. And it does feel weird that we talk about Michigan’s offensive line as being just immensely better than Ohio State’s and one Michigan offensive lineman went. And I don’t think that that’s necessarily anything we did wrong. I think that that just goes to show how much faith we have in what Michigan is doing and how little faith in what Ohio State is maybe doing. I think Donovan Jackson would have been a fine pick towards the end of this draft as well. But.

Andrew (01:38:51.886)

Michigan’s replacing a bunch of guys that just left for the NFL and we’re sitting there like, yeah, they’ll probably be fine. And they’ll probably be really good still. So I think Hinton has a chance to be really, really good in 2024. So he’s my favorite.

Stephen Means (01:39:06.655)

Okay, so final numbers here. 20 guys, 11 of them were on defense between the two teams, nine of them on offense, 14 Ohio State guys, six Michigan guys. First, before we tackle the first part of that, Jimmy, the six Michigan guys that got taken, are those the right guys? Are those, by our count, the top six guys on Michigan’s roster heading into this season right now?

Jimmy Watkins (01:39:27.879)

So it was Mason Graham, Will Johnson, Colston Loveland, Kenneth Grant, Donovan Edwards, and Miles Hinton. Yeah? I wrote down Josiah Stewart and Derek Moore in the wild card round of this, just because both of those guys had some, I think they both had six sacks a piece in lower snap counts than some of the other guys.

Stephen Means (01:39:36.127)


Stephen Means (01:39:45.727)


Stephen Means (01:39:51.071)


Jimmy Watkins (01:39:55.335)

that were taken on this. I think that’s really interesting. I think it’s Michigan doesn’t like it’s been a while since they’ve had, I think Aiden Hutchinson was a guy who put up a really high sack count. Other than that, it’s kind of been like a, we get pressure by committee, we get sacks by committee kind of thing. It’d be really interesting if one of those two guys were able to buck that trend and just have a breakout season. I’m trying to think, I think.

I think for the most part, yeah, we hit the right guys. I liked that guilt that Andrew threw in a Michigan offensive lineman in there at the end, just because that’s a conversation worth having. I mean, yes, Michigan, like the guys who are slated to start, we don’t really know the mix of five yet, but like you can look at the snap counts and figure out who has the most experience. They got a transfer from Northwestern, Josh Preeb, who’s played a lot as a guard.

Miles Hinton has the good has recruiting pedigree played last year. I’ll Johnny the guard, you know, talk about that Giovanni. Yeah, Giovanni. He he’s got the snap out that suggests he’s ready to step in there. But the question is, and again, it it speaks to the faith that we have in true and more. But it’s like. He can’t keep getting away with this like they can’t keep like it’s I know it’s not like a full shuffle because a lot of these guys have played somewhere and some have played at Michigan, but like.

Stephen Means (01:40:56.991)

Thank you. Diyavani Elhadi.

Jimmy Watkins (01:41:20.199)

at some point, right? Like they have to take like something of a significant step back, or maybe they don’t. Maybe Shremmor is just really that good at this. I think that’s a worthy conversation we had. But yeah, we took the right guys, I think.

Nathan Baird (01:41:31.819)

I think it’s the Michigan version of the thing I was saying about Ohio State’s quarterback earlier. I think you get to the last week in November and you’re not talking about Michigan offensive linemen pushing for being higher on this list. That’s probably setting them up for either has contributed to them not having the season they want, or it’s going to set them up to not do what they want to do in this game specifically because Ohio State’s defensive front is still legit. So Michigan kind of can’t come back and just merely be stable on the offensive line.

If they’ve got to get to a level above that or else Ohio State’s defensive line can start to control this game.

Stephen Means (01:42:06.559)

So as I mentioned before, 14 Ohio State guys, six Michigan guys. And I think, I mean, it just hammers home the point we already know from a talent standpoint. Maybe Ohio State has the edge here, Nathan, but that’s also been the case maybe the past three years for the most part when you look at things on paper. So like, how much does it even matter that we just did our list ranking the top 20 players and a quarter of them basically are one side?

Nathan Baird (01:42:38.379)

I think that is probably not great news for Michigan because I think this Ohio State defense is just going to be so crazy good that if this ends up being true, then Michigan doesn’t find a way to keep the ball the way it’s been able to against Ohio State the last couple of years, then it’s going to have problems in this game.

I think it also though can be, it’s a sign to me that for Ohio State that the, it just reinforces the questions that we all have about the quarterback situation and the offensive line. And ask yourself whether that really sounds like you’re talking about a potential national championship team when you have questions about those crucial spots this late in the process. I think those answers need to come early in the season.

Andrew (01:43:37.102)

So if I could ask a question too, real quick, you said it was 14 and six Ohio State to Michigan in the top 20. Do we think those numbers are repeatable through the next 20? Like, do we think if we go through 21 to 40, if we’re saying, Hey, that split is still going to be 14 to six. And then if we go 41 to 60, those numbers are still going to be four, like,

I’m asking that question in terms of a quality of roster kind of conversation, like, cause I do think Ohio state would probably have that type of scenario unfold where you’re just, you’re, you’re taking pretty much two Ohio state players for every Michigan player, the every 20 segments. If that, if that makes sense, if what I’m asking makes sense, it’s a, I’m asking about the quality of the roster top.

Stephen Means (01:44:30.463)

I think probably because there’s still some Ohio State starters.

who haven’t been named yet. And there’s still some guys who are, we’re expecting to be rotational pieces. We haven’t named yet. And then once you get out of maybe the known commodities, then you’re still kind of using their recruiting pedigree. And as we talked about on the Wednesday pod, Andrew, Ohio State’s dominating that side of it. How much does it matter? Who knows? And that’s like kind of the whole point of the, the exercises the last two days is Michigan has shown the last three years that doesn’t matter.

that you can do a ranking like this and Ohio State dominates the ranking, but then they get on the football field and Michigan dominates the game, which is what matters the most. So to answer your question. Yeah, I do think so. I think if we did seven hours of this and literally ranked the 85 scholarship players on both rosters, I think we would wrap up Ohio State’s players by like. 90.

Maybe 110 at worst 110. They’d all be in the top 110 players. I think we is what we would come to maybe and that’s a guess. But I think we would come to that. But then we’d still be asking the same question, Nathan and Jimmy. Does it actually matter once they play football? And I think this year, maybe more than the years past, it’s yes, that actually is going to matter because Michigan is kind of resetting some things here, Nathan.

Nathan Baird (01:46:01.003)

this might just be a case where the past two years, to me it goes back to how vulnerable are the vulnerabilities for Ohio State because clearly the defense is going to be great, clearly the receivers are great, clearly the running backs are great. Those other two spots is do they leave enough open at those two crucial spots that Michigan is still good enough with as we just laid out.

Stephen Means (01:46:13.375)

Mm -hmm.

Nathan Baird (01:46:28.747)

you know, multiple defensive guys who were going to go high in the NFL draft, you know, their own potential big weapon out of the backfield and in Edwards, the big, you know, what they can do with Loveland. Like there’s enough here that if Ohio State can’t really separate and Michigan hangs around in a game like this, then it can be a problem late in the game because that’s when it starts feeling like what’s wrong. It’s happening again, all those sorts of things like that can start to creep in for a team.

So I think it’s just, it’s not, it’s not necessarily doubting that Ohio State will get there. I think it’s just emphasizing that as we’ve said now in a couple of contexts, you know, September, what does this quarterback situation look like? What does this offensive line look like? And how much does that give us like further confidence as to what this team will look like? By the way, there’s some, there probably is some parallels to 2019 here because Justin Fields didn’t have a great spring in 2019.

Stephen Means (01:47:27.295)

I didn’t.

Nathan Baird (01:47:28.267)

but was like far and away the best option Ohio State had. Everyone knew he was going to start. And then when he actually got on the field that started that year, it was like, man, okay, here we go. Like that was pretty obvious. And then it wasn’t so much the offensive line that year, but the defense was coming off of just a atrocious 2018. And then it came out and was just smothering people. Wasn’t a great schedule, but was just flattening people from the start of that season. And all of a sudden you went from someone like picking them to be nine and three very quickly that year was like, okay, no, this is the playoff team. It -

And it wasn’t that you should have never doubted those things in the first place. It was just a matter of it was right to doubt them. And then they showed it. They proved it. They answered it very quickly.

Jimmy Watkins (01:48:09.703)

One of my big takeaways from this exercise, man, it’d be nice for Michigan if Michigan had a Will Howard, just like a steadying force under center because I actually think those positions being equal, I think you can make the case that how much does the talent matter? Probably not as much as it has. Ohio State has had a lion’s share of the top 20 players for most of the last three years, but Michigan has had advantages in these very key areas that can...

disrupt what Ohio State does really well. And then as long as Michigan has the threat of a pass, you can run the ball well enough to keep the ball and throw a few passes over your head. I just have no idea what to expect out of that quarterback position. And when I have no idea what to expect out of a quarterback position, I usually assume bad things. Like how long on this list would we have to wait to get to like Alex Orji or Jack Tuttle or pick a favorite?

Andrew (01:49:05.678)

Are we taking Julian Sane over Alex Orji? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Jimmy Watkins (01:49:06.567)

a long time.

Stephen Means (01:49:09.087)

Yes. Yes. Yes. What?

Jimmy Watkins (01:49:10.055)

Yes. Yes.

Nathan Baird (01:49:11.499)

If you’re just talking about best players.

Jimmy Watkins (01:49:14.663)

Like to play this year, yes, maybe.

Andrew (01:49:16.558)

Yeah, we take it Lincoln Keen holds over Alex Orji.

Stephen Means (01:49:17.023)

Well, yeah, I’m playing this year. Yeah, yes, yes, yeah.


Jimmy Watkins (01:49:21.939)

I think we’re on even ground at that point. I think I still, I continue to, I continue to believe that Michigan wanted to transfer portal quarterback that for some reason did not, did not become available. I wonder a lot about Talia Tagovailoa and his eligibility situation.

Andrew (01:49:23.662)

Yeah, I think we’re close there.

Stephen Means (01:49:26.527)


Andrew (01:49:34.83)

Come to fruition. Yeah.

Stephen Means (01:49:42.175)

He does too. So you guys are together in that conversation.

Andrew (01:49:43.47)


Nathan Baird (01:49:44.395)


Well, honestly, what Michigan really needed was Ohio State’s quarterback situation to have played out somewhere else. They needed some other national power to have five scholarship quarterbacks because you would have maybe been able to pry one of them away as Michigan. That a way that Iowa just to throw a team out there couldn’t do.

Stephen Means (01:50:08.607)

Yeah, that’s probably fair. OK. Of course not. I would love. First of all, from our standpoint, that would have been amazing if one of them would have left for Michigan, because come on, man, it’s just you just you just ask him for content. But that’s our. Right. that’s our top 20. Caleb Downs, Mason Graham, Will Johnson, Ameka Abouka, Treyvon Henderson, Jack Sawyer, Jeremiah Smith, JT Tui Maloow.

Nathan Baird (01:50:11.403)

But these guys weren’t leaving to go to Michigan.

Nathan Baird (01:50:22.571)

Maybe he thought Tony Alfred was news.

Stephen Means (01:50:36.959)

Colston Loveland, Tyleek Williams, Denzel Burke, Davidson Iggmanosin, aka Andrew’s best friend, Quincheon Judkins, Jordan Hanco*ck, Will Howard, Kenneth Grant, Donovan Edwards, Sonny Stiles, Carnell Tate, and Miles Hinton. It’s 14 Ohio State guys.

six Michigan guys, 11 defensive guys, nine offensive guys. Get the text 614 -350 -3315. Let us know where you agree with us, where you don’t agree with us. You can get news, you can get analysis, everything you want. We’ve got one more pod this week and it’s about, we’re here, we’re living in it. We almost potentially got a preview of it in 2022 where Ohio State could have lost to Michigan and won the national championship if they had a field goal kicker who could make 50 yard field goals, but they didn’t that year. But now we live in that world full time.

where Ohio State could win the national championship in a year where it loses to Michigan. And how would a fan base react to that? We’ve gotten fan, we’ve gotten reactions that are all over the place. It’s going to be interesting to hear how Nathan and Andrew and I talk about that as well. That will wrap up this week. And then listen, man, Nathan’s got two more pods with us. And then he’s leaving us to go back to cover Purdue, which I think is, first of all, I’ll get more into this on the Monday pod, but I just think that’s almost like a perfect closing for your time here. Yeah, it is.

Nathan Baird (01:51:49.483)

It’s semi hilarious, yeah.

Stephen Means (01:51:52.767)

And we’ll get more to that later on. But for now, for Jimmy Watkins, for Nathan Baird, and for Andrew Gillis, I’m Stephen Means, and that was Puckeye Talk.

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Ranking the top 20 players in the 2024 Ohio State-Michigan game: Buckeye Talk pod (2024)
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