football Edit

Day not surprised at all by Arnette's draft position

Damon Arnette went No. 19 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft
Damon Arnette went No. 19 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft (Scott Stuart)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The NFL Draft is in the books as 10 Buckeyes heard their names called in one way, shape or form during the unorthodox drafting process. Several other players have signed deals as undrafted free agents and now the NFL process really begins, even if the roadmap is unclear as the world is still in a state of lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three Buckeyes went in the first round with Chase Young going No. 2 overall to Washington, Jeff Okudah going No. 3 overall to Detroit and then maybe the surprise of the round, at least from an Ohio State perspective, Damon Arnette going No. 19 overall to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Many national experts panned the move, saying it was too early for Arnette to come off the board as the fourth corner taken in the 2020 draft, but don’t tell that to Arnette’s former head coach, Ryan Day.

“I was more surprised that leading up to it people had him projected into the second round,” Day said when asked during a Sunday conference call if he was surprised of Arnette’s draft position.

Day and the Buckeyes almost saw Arnette walk out the door after the 2018 season and it has been well-covered how many people in his life told him that he was not ready yet, a conversation that will make Arnette a lot of money based on the difference of the contract that he will sign this year versus what he likely would have received last year, going much later in the draft. What are the Raiders getting in Arnette?

“I think when you look at his body of work and versatility and the fact that you are getting a fifth-year senior that has played a lot of football,” Day added. “You are getting a mature guy who competed at a high level. (He) showed toughness, playing with a broken hand. He is definitely a first-round talent and I think he is going to play really well.”

Day went on to say that he was not in a position to judge the cornerback board, outside of Okudah since it really is not their job to “know who else is out there” but that he has high expectations for Arnette to use that extra year of development to his benefit.

Former wide receiver Terry McLaurin was another player who had an option a year earlier to make a jump and while it was not as widely publicized and maybe McLaurin did not have one foot out the door the way that Arnette did, a decision to stick around another year paid off for McLaurin as well and the Buckeyes have a pair of recent, and very real, stories to share with players who are going to be on the fence about making a NFL decision.

“I think now you have testimony with two guys, both on different sides of the ball, who could have come out the year before,” Day said. “With our advice, they were not quite ready yet and told them all the reasons why and put a plan together on what we needed to get done. Very proud in the last few years that we have done that with those two guys.”

Those difficult NFL decisions have been a part of football for years and years. Sometimes players are hearing from people close to them that they are ready when they might not be quite there yet. Obiviously, there is a benefit to a program when a developed player comes back for another season but those gains are only short-term for a program and it benefits nobody long-term to have a reputation for having players come back for selfish reasons.

When Day and his staff see someone who is ready to go, it is in everyone’s best interest to see them go and flourish at the next level.

“We think that someone is ready early, we give them all the best and support them,” Day said. “But there are other guys for a variety of different reasons that maybe need another year.”

It may be a tough pill to swallow at the moment, but it is great when it works out.

“There is nothing wrong with that, everyone has their own journey,” Day said. “The idea for those guys is to maximize themselves once they are in the NFL, not just to get there and get drafted. It is to go make a career out of it and I think Damon is now ready.”