The 2018 NFL Draft is upon us, and there are plenty of former Ohio State Buckeyes that are eligible to be taken. The players range from a Top-10 pick to guys who might not be drafted in any of the seven rounds. This list of potential prospects will be broken down by tiers, with each tier having a different round(s) associated to it. This is list is where I think the prospect will be drafted, and is not necessarily in line with my own personal rankings.
Before we get started, here is a list of the prospects in our “Where Will They Land” series, where I take a look at particular teams that would be a great fit for said prospect.
Tier One (Early Round 1)
The prospects in this tier are going to be drafted early in the first round and will be asked to be immediate starters at the next level.
Denzel Ward, Cornerback
Denzel Ward came into the off-season as one of the top prospects at the corner position and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t the first taken come tomorrow. Not only are Ward’s skills and athleticism ready to produce from day one, but he also has the Ohio State lineage on his side. In recent years the program has been producing 1st round caliber corners every single year, and NFL teams have taken notice.
Tier Two (Mid-Late Round 1)
This tier is comprised of prospects who will likely still be selected in the first round, but will have far less expectations than a top prospect. These prospects have a strong chance to be starters from the get go.
Sam Hubbard, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
Sam Hubbard will go down as a Buckeye fan favorite for everything he has done for the program in the four years he has been a part of it. NFL teams will fall in love with Hubbard’s athleticism and versatility on the field. Hubbard played defensive end for the Buckeyes, but his versatility will allow Hubbard to play either the defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Hubbard may fall out of the first round due to his lack of pass rushing consistency, which is the most important trait for his position.
Tier Three (Rounds 2–3)
The prospects in these rounds will not be expected to start right away, but could contribute as a role player in their first year. These players could potentially become starters with the right development in the early stages of their career.
Billy Price, Center/Guard
Price is one of the best and most consistent prospects in the draft, but does not play one of the premier positions. As an interior lineman, Price will be undervalued and selected much lower than he should. Price is arguably the best center in the draft, and is without a doubt a first round talent, but it will depend on if NFL teams will feel comfortable selecting an interior lineman that early. Price partially tore his pectoral muscle at the NFL Combine, but is healthy and will be ready to go for training camp, so that shouldn’t hurt his draft stock.
Jerome Baker, Outside Linebacker
There was no other Buckeye who hurt his stock more last season than Jerome Baker. In the preseason, Baker was being ranked as a top-15 prospect and was considered a first round lock. Baker’s play has caused him to fall, but his position and athletic ability will be highly coveted in the NFL. Coverage linebackers are becoming a necessity with all the pass catching running backs currently dominating the league.
Jalyn Holmes, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle
Jalyn Holmes is an interesting prospect for this year and is a potential wild card. Holmes is extremely athletic and explosive as a pass rusher coming off the edge. The biggest knock on Holmes is his production while at Ohio State, he only had 4 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in his 30 games. That lack of production is why he isn’t getting first round considerations at this point in the process. At 6’5″ and 283 pounds, he can play on the edge or move inside to a pass-rushing defensive tackle.
Tyquan Lewis, Defensive End
Other than Billy Price and J.T. Barrett, no other potential prospect has given more to the program than Tyquan Lewis. Lewis is actually the exact opposite of Jalyn Holmes in terms of a potential prospect. Lewis lacks the ideal size athleticism needed to play defensive end at the next level, and might be asked to move inside. As his playing time lessened this season, his stats did not, and he was actually more efficient, racking up 6 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
Jamarco Jones, Offensive Tackle
Jerome Baker’s stock took the biggest hit, while Jamarco Jones saw his stock rise the most. Jones was a serviceable offensive tackle to start the year, but his increased pass protection efficiency has NFL teams very excited about his skill-set and potential. In the beginning of his career, Jones will likely play on the right side of the offensive line, but has the potential to develop in a blind side protector.
Tier Four (Rounds 4-7)
The prospects in this tier are viewed as long term developmental players or career backups. These players will make their names known in practice and in special teams first. These types of players are essential, take a look at the injury problem the NFL has right now and you’ll understand the importance of role players.
Damon Webb, Safety
Damon Webb is another beloved Buckeye who put his heart and soul into the program. Webb is slightly undersized, but plays much bigger than his frame would suggest. Webb is a guy who has a knack for making a big play, and will be very helpful on special teams and in the secondary room.
Chris Worley, Linebacker
Chris Worley had a very inconsistent season last year at Linebacker. Worley is an interesting prospect because he is not quite athletic enough to play on the outside, but seems to lack the natural instincts to play on the inside. For a team to feel comfortable enough to draft him, they will first need to determine which position he will play in their scheme.
Marcus Baugh, Tight End
Marcus Baugh was severely underutilized in his tenure at Ohio State, which didn’t help his draft stock. Baugh has above average athleticism and has proven to be a great blocker in space this year. He didn’t excel in his off-season workouts, which hurt his draft stock.
J.T. Barrett, Quarterback
J.T. Barrett will go down as the greatest quarterback in Ohio State program history, but being a good college quarterback doesn’t make you a good prospect for the NFL. Barrett will not get drafted for his current skill-set and abilities, he will get drafted for two reasons; 1) An elevator will think he can make a name for himself by taking a chance and trying to develop him for the long term, think Cardale Jones. 2) His leadership qualities. If I were an area scout I personally would not recommend my team draft him.
Tier Five (Undrafted Free Agents)
These prospects have a long road ahead of them if they are to make it as a consistent player in the National Football League. As undrafted free agents, they have an advantage to pick the best fit for them, so long as they get multiple offers from teams. It’s not unheard of for UFA’s to make a name for themselves in the league, just ask former Buckeye Guard Andrew Norwell. Norwell was an UFA and is now the highest paid Guard in the NFL.
Dante Booker, Linebacker
Dante Booker was another Ohio State linebacker who struggled this season, and his stock has fallen because of it. After tearing his ACL at the start of what many believe could be his breakout year in 2016, both fans and Booker were anxious for his return in 2017. The athletic outside linebacker has shown flashes of what he can be, but the injuries and inconsistency will push teams away.
Tracy Sprinkle, Defensive Tackle
Tracy Spinkle is very athletic for a defensive tackle and exhibits excellent burst and violence off the line. Sprinkle struggled to get playing time along the Buckeyes defensive front, but could have started for just about any other program in the country.
Michael Hill, Defensive Tackle
Michael Hill is a quick twitch athlete with an excellent initial burst off the line. He plays low and has shown great leverage while pushing the offensive linemen into the backfield. Hill was suspended for the early part of his final season and had to fight for playing time all year long. This Buckeye draft class lacks the star power that recent classes have had, but with 15 prospects with the potential to get drafted, Ohio State will again be in the running for most draftees per school.