Ohio State Football: Three Buckeye Rookies Make PFF Top 101


Former Ohio State players are recognized by Pro Football Focus.

More accolades came for Ohio State rookies when Pro Football Focus announced their top 101 players in the 2016 season. Ezekiel Elliott came in as the 22nd best player, Joey Bosa was at No. 32 and Michael Thomas at 93.

All three former Ohio State players had tremendous rookie seasons.  Bosa was named Defensive Rookie of the Year, Elliott was runner-up for the Offensive Rookie award and Thomas caught 92 passes for over 1,000 yards.

Here are excerpts from the article by Pro Football Focus as well as the grades of each player. To check out the full list Click Here.

Ezekiel Elliott:

Elliott finished his rookie season leading the league in rushing by more than 300 yards, and averaging 2.9 yards per carry after contact. He averaged over 5 yards per carry total all season, and toted the ball a league-leading 322 times in the regular season, transforming the Dallas offense into a real juggernaut.

Best performance: Week 8 vs. Eagles, 86.0 grade

Key stat: Elliott came 68 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards after contact as a rookie.

Joey Bosa:

Bosa ended the season with 59 total QB pressures despite only playing 563 snaps. He was effective as both a pass-rusher and run defender, playing both defensive end and outside linebacker for the Chargers on the left and right sides of the defense.

Best performance: Week 12 vs. Texans, 92.8 grade

Key stat: Bosa generated pressure once every 6.2 pass rushes, a rate higher than Denver’s Von Miller.

Michael Thomas:

Thomas caught 92 passes for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns, breaking 20 tackles along the way and dropping only four balls all season. The Saints got him on the field early with a basic route package and it worked out to perfection, maximizing the impact of a potential playmaker from the get go.

Best performance: Week 17 vs. Falcons, 88.6 grade

Key stat: Thomas caught 92 of 119 targets (77.3 percent).

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Ezekiel Elliott was the top running back on the list. He came in one spot ahead of Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson who gained over 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

Joey Bosa was the fifth best  ‘Edge’ player which is impressive since he only played in 12 games. He was also the first rookie on the list at that position

Michael Thomas is in good company as he is only four spots behind wide receiver  Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona. He is right behind Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham as well.

Before the season began, I wrote that Thomas going to the Saints was the ideal fit for him because Drew Brees had success throwing the ball up to tall athletic receivers. Brees and Graham were quite a passing combo for several years in New Orleans.

Must Read: 2012 OSU Class: Building Blocks for Success

It has been quite a year for Ohio State rookies with all of the honors and accolades they are receiving. There could be as many as eight Buckeyes who will be NFL rookies next season. It will be interesting to see if they can match the accomplishments of the 2016 Ohio State draft class.