Week 18 put an end to this longer-than-usual NFL regular season, and the realization that football (in general) is coming to an end, has hit me harder than a ton of bricks. So what do I do now? It’s winter time across the country, we’ve got something called Flurona emerging as the 149th variant of Covid, and the new season of Succession has already come and gone! Should I watch the hodgepodge teams of the NBA, with journeymen and retirees filling out rosters? Maybe, but I would do it begrudgingly so. Hockey? No thank you… Sure, the basketball Buckeyes are playing – and playing well – but we’re looking at two games per week. I need more than this sports season has to offer, which means I will likely spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games and taking stock.
Taking stock of what, you ask? Well, Ohio State football of course. I originally had a piece in mind where I ranked the 2021 NFL seasons of former Buckeyes… but Megan Husslein more or less beat me to it, and I strongly suggest you check out her article from earlier in the week. I was forced to pivot, and I began to think about how the 2021 NFL season would translate to 2022. Who am I high on moving forward? Who underperformed? Which former OSU player am I keeping tabs on as a breakout candidate? Then it hit me! Stock up, stock down. Which former Buckeyes are we buying and selling (figuratively)? This is a look at some of the blue chips, or most notable players.
Burrow is off the market because he finished his collegiate career with LSU. Trust me, I want to buy up as much stock as possible in the quarterback of my favorite NFL team, but Burrow won a national title as a Tiger. He’s not ours to claim, folks.
Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals — Stock up
As a Bengal fan, I would tell you that Hubbard was awesome. As a realist, I would have to admit that he is not a big enough presence… yet. I believe that he will eventually make a Pro Bowl for Cincinnati, which means his value is on the rise.
The Bengals gambled on this former lacrosse stud prior to the season, and they should be very pleased with the initial returns. Hubbard started 16 games, was solid against the run, and racked up 7.5 sacks. He may have been slightly better in 2019, but his QB hits were up to 17 this year, which is an indicator of future success. Buy on Hubbard before he prices himself out of the market.
Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys — Stock down
Solid by NFL standards, but not his own. Zeke finished with over 1,000 rushing yards for the fourth time, but needed 17 games to do so. He can still be a featured back, but is nowhere near the dominant force he was in 2016-2018.
Elliott has a ton of tread on his tires, and this may just be the beginning of the end… of his peak, that is. I think he can continue to be a product timeshare back, but you’ll want to diversify your holdings. Pick up a few shares of Tony Pollard if you’re a Cowboys fan and hope that the Zeke market hits a positive bubble.
Linsley made his first career Pro Bowl, and was the anchor for a much-improved Los Angeles Chargers’ offensive line… but he’s a center. I am not downplaying the significance of his position, I just cannot in good conscience put him in the S&G 500 (coming up), because I don’t know how to argue his value.
So let’s just say that Linsley is that safe dividend stock your parents tell you about. He is not nearly as flashy as Apple or Google, but he won’t cost you as much either. You’re not getting rich off of him, but there is no need to worry about fluctuation. He will provide steady, passive income.
Scary Terry is a monster, but he has no help. He was supposed to get a running mate in fellow former Buckeye, Curtis Samuel, but injuries never allowed that to happen. McLaurin had a good season, not a great one. This might be the perfect opportunity to buy low.
McLaurin crossed the 1,000 yard barrier, but just barely (1,053). He only had five touchdowns in 17 games, and caught less than 60 percent of his targets (primarily due to QB play). I am confident that there will be better days ahead, but his value is tied to the team and situation. If you bought low after McLaurin’s rookie season, don’t sell. Hold the line. If you’re looking to invest in him for the first time, keep an eye on Scary Terry’s stock, but don’t take the plunge without a better quarterback plan in place.
Much like the S&P 500, the Scarlet & Gray 500 is comprised of major players. In this instance, all players are going to be stock up, because they were the best of the best for 2021. Consider this more of a Top Performers list. You could argue that Elliott or McLaurin belongs in the S&G 500, but there just hasn’t been as much action on them this year.
Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns — Stock up, rising
The northern Ohio native and speedster has been a sticky coverman for his hometown(ish) team. Ward was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2018, and earned the distinction again this season. In 15 games, he was credited with 43 tackles and 11 passes defended, while also coming down with three interceptions. Interestingly enough, the tackles and passes defended were both career lows for Ward — in a career high for games played!
Certain stats may have been down for Ward, but it is primarily because he has become a lockdown corner. Teams tend to avoid his side of the field, and for good reason. Just ask Joe Burrow what happens when you make a pre-determined throw in Ward’s direction. This fourth-year Brown is at the top of his game, and due for a huge payday in the offseason. If you are looking for a similar payday, go heavy on Ward’s potential.
Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers — Stock up, steady
The elder Bosa brother turned in another impressive season, and it seems like this should just be the expectation as long as Joey is healthy. In 16 games, he was credited with 51 tackles and 10.5 sacks. On top of the disruptive pass rush, Bosa was able to cause chaos when he did get home. He forced seven fumbles, which was good for second in the league. Joey is a sound investment, as long as you’re prepared to deal with the dips.
Bosa was relatively healthy for all 17 games this season, but sat one out due to Covid protocol. Prior to 2021, he had missed 17 games in five years. Oddly enough, he seems to get dinged up during even years — 2016, 2018, and 2020. It does not diminish his overall value, because he is a beast when on the field. Just know that you will experience a few down quarters while holding Joey Bosa stock.
Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints — Stock up, rising
Another northern Ohio native, and another graduate of DB U… Damn, the OSU secondary was incredible just a few seasons ago. Lattimore, who entered the league just one year ahead of Ward, comes in just one spot ahead of the Cleveland Brown in these rankings. Lattimore earned his fourth Pro Bowl nod this season, and nearly helped lead a depleted New Orleans Saints team to the playoffs. Seriously, this team had no right sniffing the postseason, but it is a credit to Sean Payton, Alvin Kamara, and the defense — led by Lattimore and others.
Already a certified stud at corner, the former Buckeye set career highs in tackles (68) and passes defended (19). He also added three picks, which was his most since 2017. It’s almost as if quarterbacks wanted to go back and test Lattimore after a few years off. Suffice it to say, that did not work out so well. The Saints finished with a top-5 defense in total yards allowed per game, and shut out Tom Brady and the Bucs in a pivotal week 15 matchup. Lattimore has plenty of help on the Saints’ defense, but his tremendous value should not be understated. With four Pro Bowl appearances in five seasons, this blue chip is almost guaranteed to net you a solid ROI.
Big Cam. At 32 years old, you could argue that Heyward had the best season of his outstanding career. Think about that: 11 years in, and the big defensive lineman was as good (or better) as he’s ever been. He totaled 89 tackles and 10 sacks as a down lineman, which is pretty darn impressive. Heyward also batted down nine passes, setting a career high. Perhaps most impressive of all his stats? The big man played all 17 games, which is again impressive, given his age and time in the league.
Heyward and T.J. Watt were the fuel up front, for a Pittsburgh defense that played a prominent role in the team making the postseason. This former Buckeye has also been a rock-solid leader for the Steelers, since he really established his name in the league and locker room. You could almost argue that his presence is bigger than his play, but it’s hard to do so when he produces at such a high level. Heyward’s stock is up, but teetering on steady… Given his age, it might be time to look at selling high.
Nick, the youngest Bosa, returned with a vengeance from his 2020 injury, and we are seeing his stock ascend very rapidly. While we all thought he would be good, he has gone above and beyond, and proven himself to be one of the best and most dangerous defensive players in the NFL. In playing all 17 games during the regular season, Bosa totaled 52 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 4 FF, and a ridiculous 32 QB hits. If there was any doubt that his value would rebound post-injury, that doubt is now 100 percent gone. It doesn’t exist. Nick Bosa is an absolute rocket ship.
The younger Bosa is a no-brainer buy. He is only 24 years old, and already one of the best on his side of the ball. He has dealt with injury in both college and the pros, but he also played in every game during both the 2019 and 2021 NFL seasons. I would not refer to him as injury-prone, and even when he has been dinged up, he has shown the ability to bounce back. Look at him like you would Amazon: there are ebbs and flows, but every investor wants a piece. Same goes for Bosa.
Invest at your own risk. I can’t get a read on Fields, but I think he will be huge. He could be Bitcoin during the early 2010’s. Buy now, and potentially become a millionaire in 5-10 years.
The former Buckeye quarterback may have also been ruined by the Chicago Bears franchise. If that is the case, he would be just another altcoin: tons of people dumped serious money into his future, only to lose it all.
We are all about positive vibes in 2022, so I say wait on Fields. He is your Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Dogecoin. Just be patient and reap the future rewards.
There it is, folks: your unsolicited, sure-to-be-wrong, hypothetical stock advice for former Ohio State football players. I am not a paid advisor, so take all advice with a giant grain of salt and choose wisely. Here’s looking forward to a prosperous 2022 NFL season for all former Buckeyes.