2017 NFL Draft: Pro game within ‘The Game’ between Ohio State, Michigan bigger than ever | NCAA Football

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer opened the curtain at Pro Day on March 23. He perched at the 40-yard line at the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex. He chatted with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Everybody in attendance could see that. 

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh closed the curtain at Pro Day the following day. The only way to spot Belichick in the Al Glick Field House was to look behind Harbaugh during a short interview with Mike Mayock on the NFL Network. 

The turnouts in Columbus, Ohio, and Ann Arbor, Mich., were massive. Ohio State Pro Day drew nine NFL coaches and 122 NFL representatives. Michigan drew eight NFL coaches and 143 NFL representatives. All 32 teams were represented at both events. 

It’s the third leg in the escalation of college football’s best rivalry. We watched Ohio State beat Michigan 30-27 in double overtime in the regular-season finale; a game decided by a few inches. We watched both schools reel in top-five recruiting classes in the latest cycle. Now, the 2017 NFL Draft could feature somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 players selected between the two schools. 

SPRING PREVIEWS: Michigan | Ohio State 

Ohio State sent 12 players to the 2016 NFL Draft, an impressive group that included star power in Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and San Diego’s Joey Bosa. Michigan could top that number April 27-29 at the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. It doesn’t matter how the curtains are positioned. Ohio State and Michigan are mass-producing NFL talent together again. 

Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2014 and spent his rookie year in Buffalo. Jones clutched a NFL football in his hand after Ohio State Pro Day before letting all those rookies know what was coming next in a whirlwind that includes the NFL Draft, rookie minicamp and OTAs before the preseason even starts. 

“Just prepare for a long year,”…

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