Five for Friday: Buckeye Underclassmen Draft Projections

Ohio State Football Buckeyes Five for Friday Ohio State Recruiting


We are once again smack dab in the middle of NFL Mock Draft Season, so I thought I would go through some of the more prominent mock drafts and see where some familiar names appeared — or didn’t appear.

I went through seven different mock drafts — CBS Sports, Walter Football, USA Today, Todd McShay, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, and NBC Sports — to find the current wisdom and to see if there were any trends on which Buckeyes were more likely to be selected than others.

The thing about “draft projections” on the internet, however, is that they have no bearing on whether or not an underclassman is going to declare for the NFL Draft.

Sometimes not even actual poor draft grades from the NFL will keep a player from declaring for the draft.

Ohio State has about a dozen underclassmen who entered the 2017 season thinking that this might be their last season in Columbus. For many of those players, however, the season didn’t go as well as they had hoped. For others — like receiver Johnnie Dixon, it was much better than expected.

Each of those players still has a decision to make, and they have about 30 days to get their thoughts finalized.

With that in mind, here are the five Buckeyes getting the most draft buzz at the moment.

1. Denzel Ward, CB

Denzel Ward is the only Buckeye to appear in every first round of the mock drafts mentioned above. He is projected anywhere from No. 9 by SI, to No. 32 by CBS Sports. Now is the point in the season where underclassmen start to get asked about their plans for next year, but Ward has not met with the media for weeks, so he has yet to address those questions. He was scheduled to do so last week, but it never materialized. Ward’s presence in each of the mock drafts gives you a pretty good idea of what everyone expects him to do. He is the No. 1 cornerback on plenty of boards, and when you’re No. 1 at a position, you should probably take advantage of it.

2. Sam Hubbard, DE

Sam Hubbard has been asked about his future a couple of times over the last two or three weeks and has been adamant that he isn’t interested in talking about it right now. Urban Meyer said back in 2014 that he’d never get a fifth year out of Hubbard and I doubt he’s feeling any better about those odds right now. Hubbard appeared in four of the mock drafts, with three of them putting him in the first round at Nos. 20, 23 and 26. USA Today had him just outside of the first round at No. 35, which is the third pick of the second round. Hubbard returned this season for a number of reasons, including to improve his draft stock, which he has now done. It would be a surprise to see him return.

3. Dre’Mont Jones, DT

As a redshirt freshman last season, Dre’Mont Jones was one of the more active defensive tackles in the nation with 52 tackles while rotating out on passing downs. This season, those tackle numbers dropped to just 20, though he has increased his tackles for loss from 4.0 to 5.0. Jones missed two games this season with a laceration on his leg, which makes you wonder if that has impacted his production. Jones appears on three of the seven mock drafts, including first-round grades by SI (No. 26) and Bleacher Report (No. 30). USA Today sees him going at the end of the second round at No. 63. I will continue to mention that idea of Jones returning for his redshirt junior season in order to play defensive end. He has not spoken with the media for a while, so he has not yet addressed his future.

4. Parris Campbell, WR

The one thing that I am sure of is that if Parris Campbell does enter the draft, he will impress NFL people with his measurables. He is fast, not small, and young. Is he perfect? No. Few receivers are. Campbell spoke with reporters recently and said that he wasn’t thinking about the NFL and is only focused on USC. That may be because he has already made his decision, but that’s probably the cynic in me typing right now. Not that it matters, but Campbell only showed up on one mock draft, and that was in the second round at No. 46 overall by Walter Football. Walter Football is not necessarily a well-known outlet, but in terms of mock drafts, it’s been around about as long as the internet has.

5. Jerome Baker, LB

It will be impossible to separate Jerome Baker’s up-and-down season with the idea that he believed this was going to be his contract year for the NFL. As we saw with the Buckeyes in 2015, when players are already thinking ahead to the NFL before the season is even close to over, performances can suffer. Baker does currently lead the OSU defense with 67 tackles. One year ago he finished with 83. He is also 3.0 tackles for loss behind last year’s 9.5. His production isn’t too far off of what it was last season, even though it feels like his consistency has been all over the board. Baker showed up in two mock drafts — No. 34 per the USA Today and No. 71 per Walter Football. He is schedule to speak to reporters Friday, so we will see what he has to say about the subject then.

Bonus: Johnnie Dixon, WR

Johnnie Dixon is healthier than he has been in years. Nobody could fault him for leaving early. His name didn’t come up in any mock drafts that I saw, however. He will meet with the media Friday afternoon and will undoubtedly be asked about his future. He will likely give the same answer as everybody else.

Bonus: Terry McLaurin, WR

Terry McLaurin will be graduating this weekend, which always gets a player thinking about his future. To this point, however, he said he is only focused on graduating and playing USC. He’ll think about what comes after that when it’s time. McLaurin has had the best year of his career, but could likely be helped by coming back and continuing to showcase his skills.


6 Responses

  1. Ward is a solid 1st round & has to go. Hubbard gains nothing coming back & should be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Jones should return and play DE. Good for him because his size & athleticism are perfect for DE & top level DE’s, OT’s & QB’s are gold in the NFL draft. Baker should come back because he made a mess of his platform year. He is very talented and should a late 1st or certain 2nd/3rd round pick if he plays well next year. He probably will go. I think the rest of the guys are middle to late picks if they go. Each could help himself with another year of development.

  2. I would say all 5 will go plus Weber. All but Hubbard and Ward should stay.

  3. I could see Hubbard, Ward, and Baker leaving. The rest of these guys should stay another year. But easier said than done if they are getting NFL money waved in front of them which is certainly understandable. I would think they could easily improve their draft position and their money by staying another year.

  4. It’s never the same once they sign on the dotted line for the NFL. It ceases being about football, sports and sportsmanship. It quickly becomes a business and over publicized entertainment. Case in point is Zeke. I would have never thought it possible but he is harder to like in the big leagues.

    1. True, the blessings and temptations of the NFL is that it throw enormous amounts of money and fame at 20-22 years and many are not ready to handle that amount of freedom or responsibility.

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