The NFL draft is finally upon us. Speculation and rumors have been circulating for weeks and now the time has come for the dust to settle and the draft cards to be turned in. Nothing is guaranteed in life, but a good bet is expecting to hear Ohio State’s name called out numerous times over the entirety of the draft. Ohio State has sent 479 players to the NFL through the draft including three No. 1 overall selections as well as five first round picks in both the 2006 and 2016 draft.
This year should be no different. As of today, there are seven Buckeyes who are projected to have their names called during this year’s draft.
First Round Locks
C.J. Stroud – Quarterback
Projection – #2 Houston Texans
Other Possible Fits – Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans
Stroud had one of the best combines and pro days in recent memory and solidified himself as a year one starter in the league. The Houston Texans are in dire need of a QB so it makes the most sense to take Stroud with their second overall pick. If for some reason the Texans go in a different direction and pass on Stroud, barring any trade scenarios, I expect the Colts to make the move at #4
Paris Johnson Jr. – Offensive Lineman
Projection – #9 Chicago Bears
Other Possible Fits – Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Chicago Bears signed OL Nate Davis to a 3-year contract during free agency to help bolster the offensive line that saw quarterback Justin Fields on the receiving end of 55 sacks last season, tying Russell Wilson for most in the league. There are many options for the Bears at #9 but the goal should be continuing to improve the O-Line. When upright and able, Justin Fields showed vast improvement in the second half of the season and the biggest concern is keeping him on his feet. Paris Johnson Jr. is a day one starter and fills an immediate need.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Wide Receiver
Projection – #12 Houston Texans
Other Possible Fits – New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks
Smith-Njigba enters as the top receiver in the draft class despite suffering injuries last year at Ohio State. Under Brian Hartline, Jaxon thrived in the Ohio State system which also included Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Drafting Smith-Njigba is a no-brainer here at #12. He should instantly become a quarterback’s favorite weapon, whether that quarterback could happen to be former Buckeye C.J. Stroud will be determined.
Dawand Jones – Offensive Lineman
Projection – #35 Indianapolis Colts
Other Possible Fits – Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals
Dawand Jones is an athlete made in a lab. The Ohio State Buckeye is the third highest graded natural right tackle in this year’s draft and will garner interest from every GM around the league. Jones body of work is worthy of a first-round pick, but the depth of this year’s draft might see the tackle slide into the second round. His size, strength, and ability will make it tough for teams to pass on him as the draft progresses.
Luke Wypler – Center
Projection – #64 Chicago Bears
Other Possible Fits – Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets
It might end up being an Ohio State reunion is Chicago. With the projection of Paris Johnson Jr. heading to the Windy City in the first round, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bears line up to take Justin Fields’ former teammate Luke Wypler with their #64th pick to help bolster the offensive line and get their quarterback some further help.
Zach Harrison – Defensive End
Projection – #101 San Francisco 49ers
Other Possible Fits – Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions
Which player in the combine recorded an 85 ½ wingspan and ran 4.47 in high school? That would be Ohio State’s 274 lb. defensive end Zach Harrison. While he has been a little stiff coming off the line when changing directions with rush transitions, Harrison has been a disrupter to opposing linemen and has the strength and length to back it up. Harrison has the potential to develop into a day one starter.
Ronnie Hickman – Safety
Projection – #149 Green Bay Packers
Other Possible Fits – Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers
In just over two years with the Buckeyes, Hickman recorded 153 tackles and three interceptions, including one for a touchdown. A strong, physical safety who is effective in a big nickel package, he has some difficulty when faced with open field tackles. The potential and upside are well worth it for a team to pick him up in one of the later rounds.
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