NFL Draft Surprises

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Last updated: 04/28/2012 9:23 PM

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NFL Draft: Herron, Ebner Taken as Brewster Slips Out of Draft
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The NFL Draft continues to be full of surprises.

Nate Ebner
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nate Ebner

This time it was Nate Ebner, a special teams player from Ohio State who never started a game during his college career, coming off the board in the sixth round of Saturday’s NFL Draft.

In fact, Ebner played a total of three plays on defense for the Buckeyes as a senior this past season, but the former MVP of the Rugby World Cup went to the New England Patriots with the 27th pick in the sixth round (No. 197 overall).

“Did I think I'd be in a position to get drafted? No way,” Ebner told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

But Ebner was drafted. The special teams star—or “War Daddy”—came off the board ahead of Ohio State center Michael Brewster, a former 5-star prospect who started 49 consecutive games for the Buckeyes from 2008-11.

Brewster was projected to go as high as the third round after his junior season. He was named a first-team All-American that year, but opted to return to Ohio State for one last go around with classmates Mike Adams, J.B. Shugarts and Jake Stoneburner.

He was still projected as a “fourth or fifth round” pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but Brewster tumbled down the draft boards on Saturday, and was just hoping to hear his name before they called Mr. Irrelevant at No. 253.

It never happened.

The 6-4, 312-pound center officially went undrafted after starting all four years of his college career at Ohio State. Like Dane Sanzenbacher a year ago,Brewster was then free to sign with whichever team he would like. Reports are that Brewster will sign with the Jacksonville Jaguards as an undrafted free agent.

Bengals Snag Herron

Boom Herron
Photo by Jim Davidson
Boom Herron

Running back Daniel “Boom” Herron did come off the board Saturday, going to the Cincinnati Bengals with the 21st pick in the sixth round (No. 191 overall).

According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Herron was the first Buckeye taken by the Bengals in the NFL Draft since defensive tackle Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson went No. 1 overall back in the 1994 draft.

Herron also became the fourth Ohio State back drafted in Bengals history, joining Archie Griffin, Pete Johnson and Jeff Cothran. Cincinnati does already have a pair of former Buckeyes on the roster, however, in defensive back Nate Clements and kicker Mike Nugent.

Back to Ebner

The story of Nate Ebner is particularly interesting because did not even play football at Hilliard Davidson High School, where he was a standout rugby player. At age 17, Ebner became the youngest player ever to play in National 7's, and he was also a standout on the United States U19 and U20 national teams.

He was on the sidelines when Davidson won the Ohio Division I state championship in 2007 over Mentor. He was on the sidelines, preparing to be a part of the Rugby World Cup, where he would later earn MVP honors.

The 6-0, 205-pounder was offered a preferred walk-on spot at Ohio State under former OSU head coach Jim Tressel, and he was eventually converted into a safety.

Only he never really played safety. Ebner became the top player on Ohio State’s kickoff coverage team, but he never really got on the field as a part of the Silver Bullets defense. He recorded 11 tackles as a senior in 2011, and even had a sack on one of the three plays he was actually on the field as a defensive football player.

Ebner had become the backup at the “Star” position, which is a hybrid nickelback position that is part linebacker and part defensive back. It’s a position that does not exist in the NFL, but Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick saw enough in Ebner as a specials teams standout to think he warranted a sixth-round in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Back to Brewster

Mike Brewster
Photo by Jim Davidson
Mike Brewster

It is a little bit baffling to understand how Brewster fell from a potential fourth-round pick to undrafted this week. Brewster was rated as the No. 5 center in the draft by NFL Draft Countdown, ahead of guys like Gino Gradkowski and Jason Slowey, both of whom heard their names called on the final day of the draft.

According to someone close to the situation, one reason Brewster slipped out of the draft is because he is viewed as a player who can only be a center in the NFL. Teams drafting offensive linemen in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds wants guys who are versatile, because they aren’t necessarily drafting for need that point.

Brewster started 49-straight games at Ohio State dating back to the fourth week of his freshman season, and every one of them was at center. He was an All-American in 2010, but struggled against top competition and had limited upside, according to NFL Draft Countdown.

He tended to have issues with big, strong nose guards, and said he had a tendency to become concerned with pre-snap reads, which hurt his ability to fire off the ball.

Unlike teammate and fellow OSU offensive lineman Mike Adams, Brewster did not have a great showing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., which is also believed to have deterred some teams from taking the Orlando, Fla. product.

With Brewster likely headed to Jacksonville, former OSU linebacker Andrew Sweat is also reportedly headed to Cleveland to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Browns. Offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts will also be looking to sign as an undrafted free agent in the coming hours, days or weeks.

Related Article: Day one Buckeye Draft Results. - By Brandon Castel.

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