Saints help Ohio State make history, do Will Smith proud

METAIRIE, La. -- Ohio State made NFL draft history on Friday, thanks to a big assist from the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints drafted two Buckeyes in the second round -- receiver Michael Thomas and safety Vonn Bell. By the end of the night, a total of 10 Ohio State players were selected.

That’s the most ever by any school in the first three rounds of the draft. In fact, no other school has ever had 10 players drafted in the first four rounds, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Former Saints linebackers Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle both considered that a nice homage to their former teammate, Will Smith, another former Ohio State great who was drafted in the first round by the Saints in 2004.

Former Saints running back Deuce McAllister, who announced the Saints' first pick in Round 2, began by recognizing Smith and former Saints running back Hokie Gajan -- two all-time greats who died earlier this month. Another Saints linebacker who embraced New Orleans' Ohio State picks was newly-signed middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, a former Buckeye himself.

The Saints' Buckeye love was partly coincidence. But coach Sean Payton said it didn't hurt that he has a good relationship with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

"He and I have been friends for a long time," Payton said. "I think [that] matters some. ... Urban and I came up out of the Midwest at the same time. He was at Colorado State as an assistant and I was at San Diego State recruiting the same areas, and over the years [we] have just always kind of stayed in touch."