A fact, then a react...
First, when Thaddeus Gibson was taken in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday, he added to a recent trend -- guys who leave after their junior years and are not first-round picks.
Four of the past 8 Buckeyes to leave early have not been first-rounders: RB Antonio Pittman (4th round, 2007), WR Brian Hartline (4th, 2009), DB Donald Washington (4th, 2009) and now Gibson.
Prior to 2007, of the 23 players to leave early, 15 were first-round picks.
Every case is individual. Hartline was about to graduate and get married, he was here for 4 years, and though he didn't say it, he probably didn't think he'd help his draft stock any by staying, not after struggling to reach the 20-catch mark in Terrelle Pryor's first year as a starter.
Washington had been in disciplinary trouble once or twice and also had been at OSU for 4 years. Pittman had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and had Beanie Wells breathing down his neck.
Much of the reaction to Gibson's unexpected fall (he was expected to be a second- or third-round pick) has been negative - "he should have stayed another year."
I don't agree. Gibson had been in school for four years. He was a productive starter for two of those years. He was not going to develop a whole lot more, physically or mentally, by staying.
His mother has had health issues. It was time for him to "get a job," so to speak.
Plus, looking at it from OSU's angle, Gibson staying may have had an unwanted ripple effect. Now you have Cam Heyward at one end and Gibson at the other, and Nathan Williams spends a third season as a part-time player? It's time to find out what he can do with a starting job.
Had Gibson returned, guys such as Solomon Thomas, Melvin Fellows and Keith Wells are marginalized, entering their second, third, or fourth years in the system. Maybe they get disgruntled and transfer.
This is all hypothetical, I realize. Gibson is going to a system that suits him in Pittsburgh, under the league's most respected coordinator (Dick LeBeau).
He'll be fine, OSU will be fine. What's wrong with that?