The last time Ohio State didn’t lose an underclassman to the NFL Draft was 2015, which was also the last year without a full Urban Meyer OSU recruiting class being draft eligible.
From 2008 to 2015, the Buckeyes lost eight underclassmen to the NFL Draft.
In 2016 — which was the first year an entire Urban Meyer recruiting class was draft eligible — Ohio State sent nine early enrollees to the NFL Draft. Three of them were from the 2012 class and six were from the 2013 class.
This year, there are at least 10 Buckeyes who will be weighing a decision to stay or go. It is unlikely that all 10 will decide to leave early, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be looking.
Underclassmen are allowed to ask for feedback from the NFL, but a rule in 2014 limited the number of players from one school that could receive this feedback to just five. They can make exceptions on a case-by-case basis, however.
Feedback isn’t necessary for somebody like Nick Bosa, so it wouldn’t be asked for.
The answer the NFL provides is whether a player is likely to be a first rounder, a second rounder, or none of the above. The thought is that the “none of the above” answer would be a recommendation to stay in school, but players don’t necessarily see it that way. Previous feedback used to include ‘likely third rounder,’ ‘no potential for the first three rounds,’ and ‘no draft potential at all.’
That feedback has kept players in school on many occasions, but other times the player already has it in his mind that he is ready or that it is necessary for him to leave early.
The particular situation for each of the 10 Buckeyes listed below is unknown on the outside, so predicting one way or the other for many players is a fool’s errand.
But that has never stopped the guessing games before, so..
Here are 10 Buckeyes with decisions to make by the time the declaration deadline gets here on January 14.
Dwayne Haskins, rSo. Quarterback
Expect Haskins to leave. This is a no-brainer. He is listed as a Top 10 pick in some mock drafts and is the kind of quarterback who seems like he would excel in a combine environment. His intention of playing in the Rose Bowl is a positive. Haskins said he’ll make a decision one way or the other after the Rose Bowl.
Mike Weber, rJr. Running Back
Weber almost left last year, saying that he was 50/50. He came back because he was told he would carry the ball more, which he did when he was healthy. He already has 56 more carries in two fewer games than he had last year. The Rose Bowl is expected to be his last game even though he has not yet made an announcement.
K.J. Hill, rJr. Receiver
When he was asked after the Big Ten Championship Game if this was his last season as a Buckeye, Hill was non-committal and said to ask Terry McLaurin. McLaurin said if Hill stayed that he would come back to visit him from time to time. Hill entered the 2018 season as if it would be his last. He showed himself the past three seasons as a very effective slot receiver. His draft feedback may not be great, but it would be a bit of a surprise if he chose to return for a fifth year.
Michael Jordan, Jr. Center
It is pretty rare for an offensive lineman to leave after his true junior season. I expect Jordan to return mainly for that reason. He is a three-year starter and is a first-team All-American. Still, who was the last Ohio State offensive lineman to leave after three seasons? Orlando Pace? Let’s side with normality here and say Jordan returns.
Nick Bosa, Jr. Defensive End
He’s been gone for a while now and is the projected top pick in the draft.
Dre’Mont Jones, rJr. Defensive Tackle
Jones returned last season for a number of reasons, including the idea of improving his draft stock. Not having Nick Bosa next to him may have hindered that, but this will be Jones’ final season as a Buckeye. He was non-committal about playing in the Rose Bowl following the Big Ten Championship Game.
Malik Harrison, Jr. Linebacker
It would be a surprise for Harrison to leave early, but there have been surprises before. He is a big linebacker and an incredible athlete. Those are two combinations that the NFL loves. Expect him to stay for his senior season, but as OSU’s leading tackler, mulling things over is certainly justified.
Kendall Sheffield, rJr. Cornerback
The plan for Ohio State’s cornerbacks over the last five or six years has been to redshirt as true freshmen, then get in the mix as a redshirt freshman, then start for two years and leave early as a redshirt junior. Sheffield will impress at the NFL Combine eventually, and that may be what ultimately convinces him to leave now. The plan has been for this to his final season and then go be a first-round draft pick. That latter part is up in the air, but expect the former to still be the plan.
Damon Arnette, rJr. Cornerback
Everything that was said for Kendall Sheffield goes for Damon Arnette as well.
Jordan Fuller, Jr. Safety
Fuller is a versatile athlete finishing up his second season as a starter for the Buckeyes. He is a two-time Academic All-American, so he is very serious about his craft and his future. As such, he will undoubtedly be looking at the NFL. If you’re a Buckeye fan, you should probably prepare for him to leave early, but be thrilled if he returns.