You can’t really take a walk down the internet without running into an NFL mock draft these days. And you almost can’t be an Ohio State football player without eventually having your name mentioned inside one of those drafts.
Even though we’ve just hit our second week of summer, the mock draft season is year round.
With that in mind, I went around and checked all of the usual haunts for mock drafts (CBS, PFF, Bleacher Report, FOX, SI, etc), most of which have been updated in the last month.
What follows are the five (or so) Buckeyes whose names kept appearing in the first or second rounds.
1. Jerome Baker (LB, Jr, 6-1 225)
Some might think Jerome Baker is a bit undersized to be a first-round draft pick, but of the three linebackers drafted in the first round last year (not including the 3-4 OLBs), the biggest was 6-foot-1 and 238 pounds. Alabama’s Reuben Foster measured in at 6-foot and 229 pounds, so don’t worry about size issues. If Baker does choose to leave early, his combine performance will get everybody’s attention.
2. Tyquan Lewis (DE, rSr, 6-4 265)
Tyquan Lewis decided to return for a fifth year for a number of reasons, but one was to improve in order to be in a better position for the 2018 draft. He is already a known commodity around the NFL circles, however. He appears in the first round of mock drafts from CBS, Pro Football Focus, FOXSports.com, Sports Illustrated, and more. Lewis could also project to an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. When he was still working for an Ohio State offer as a high school prospect, he impressed the Buckeyes with linebacker-like skills.
3. Sam Hubbard (DE, rJr, 6-5 265)
Sam Hubbard is another guy who decided to come back for at least one more year. He will be graduating soon, but was also asked to work on his pass rush moves. After notching just 3.5 sacks in 2016, more is expected of him this year. Expect to see Hubbard used in a few different ways this season, which may also move him up the draft boards as teams see his versatility. He still has two years of eligibility remaining, but one of the reasons Urban Meyer didn’t want to redshirt Hubbard back in 2014 was because he didn’t expect to get five years out of him.
4. Dre’Mont Jones (DT, rSo, 6-3 295)
Dre’Mont Jones emerged last season as a redshirt freshman playmaker. He’s one of the most-active defensive tackles Ohio State has had in years. His 52 tackles last season were good for sixth on the team. If Jones was to leave this early, that might catch some people off guard. OSU is no doubt preparing for it, even though they won’t want to see it happen. Jones came to Ohio State as a defensive end, and given his skill set could also play that position in the NFL, perhaps in a 3-4.
5. Denzel Ward (CB, Jr, 5-11 191)
Denzel Ward is the next in line, which means that he is almost automatically penciled in to the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Interestingly, from what I saw, only Bleacher Report had him listed in the first round. Given his title as fastest Buckeye, if Ward plays as well as expected this season and then declares for the NFL, he should do very, very well at the combine. Ward may not have started a single game last season, but call him a backup to Kerry Coombs’ face and see what happens.
Bonus: Parris Campbell (WR, rJr, 6-1 208)
The H-back position at Ohio State is now a premier position in college football and the NFL knows it. Basically, whoever plays the position is put there for a reason, and it’s a reason the NFL is interested in. While I didn’t see any mock drafts with Campbell in the first round, his name does appear in the second round, which is where Curtis Samuel ended up last year, and one round better than where Braxton Miller found himself the year before.
Bonus: Dante Booker (LB, rJr, 6-3 240)
Here’s the thing, if you’re 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds like Dante Booker and playing out in space as Ohio State’s walk-out linebacker, you’re going to intrigue some folks. If you play the position well enough, you’re going to have a decision to make. FOXSports.com has Booker going in the second round. If he decides to come out after this season, he should be one of the more impressive linebacker prospects at the combine, so he could move up the boards pretty easily.
Bonus: Jamarco Jones (OT, Sr, 6-5 310)
Jamarco Jones had Buckeye fans panicking last year when there were thoughts that he might leave early. The relief they felt from him sticking around tells you just how consistent he was last year as a starter. He may not be the prototype 6-foot-7 left tackle, but as long as he keeps his quarterback upright, he could hear his name called pretty early.
Bonus: Billy Price (OC, rSr, 6-4 312)
Billy Price returned for his fifth season for a number of reasons, one of which was to improve his draft stock by playing center. The expectations are that he will do very well this year. The only question will be whether a team feels they need an interior linemen in the first round. Price appeared in a number of second rounds in the aforementioned mock drafts.
Bonus: Mike Weber (RB, rSo, 5-10 214)
Mike Weber’s name didn’t appear in any of the mock drafts that I saw, but he’s listed here regardless. I fully expect a much better and more explosive Weber this season. Even though some might find it odd for a redshirt sophomore running back to leave for the NFL, he will have spent three years at Ohio State just like Ezekiel Elliott did before him. The NFL is sort of getting back to drafting running backs in the first round, so Weber is one to watch, even if he’s more likely a second or third day pick.
Bonus: Kendall Sheffield (CB, rSo, 6-0 183)
I did not see Kendall Sheffield’s name in any mock drafts, which would only surprise somebody who follows Ohio State very closely. Sheffield still has a long way to go to get his name called, but if he’s as good as Ohio State thinks he could be, then he needs to be on this list.
Bonus: Chris Worley (LB, rSr, 6-2 230)
Chris Worley’s name doesn’t exist in any mock draft that I saw, but that will be changing. I don’t know if he’ll find himself in the first round of those mock drafts, but as Ohio State’s middle linebacker, he’s certainly going to have more people knowing who he is.
Bonus: Jalyn Holmes (DE, Sr, 6-5 270)
The first start of Jalyn Holmes’ career may not come until Senior Day this year, but don’t worry — the NFL knows about him. Holmes would have been drafted a year ago had he come out. Last year he showed the NFL that he was willing (and able) to move inside to defensive tackle on passing downs. This year he’ll be able to show them that he can also stand up on the edge and drop back in coverage. His versatility alone will garner attention. His production should as well.
Bonus: Damon Arnette (CB, rSo, 6-0 195)
I have yet to see Damon Arnette’s name on a mock draft, but if you’re a starting cornerback at Ohio State and you’re draft eligible, you probably should be listed somewhere.