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What Impact Will Ohio State’s Pro-Day Have on the NFL Draft?

Photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics

Ohio State, along with a handful of other schools held their Pro-Day this week, and the NFL bound Buckeyes did not disappoint. Quarterback Justin Fields was far and away the biggest draw of the day, but that doesn’t mean that other guys weren’t able to take advantage of that and potentially bump up their own stock in the process.

Offense

Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers both came into the day as probable late 1st-mid 2nd round selections, and the pair of linemen were able to shine in their positional drills, putting their versatility on display. On top of that, they put up 25 and 29 reps respectively in their bench press, likely securing their positions as some of the top OL in the draft.

A little bit down the line, Luke Farrell put his strength on display with 22 reps at the tight end position. Though he isn’t quite projected as high as Jeremy Ruckert would have been had he stayed in the draft pool, his prowess as the best blocker at the position will make him hard to pass up for teams that frequent two-TE sets in the run game. His hands are sure enough as well to lead me to believe that if a team doesn’t take a flyer on him with a mid-late round pick, he will undoubtedly get some chances as a UDFA.

While the Buckeyes don’t have any marquee receivers in the ’21 class, current stars Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson took reps alongside Farrell, C.J. Saunders and Johnnie Dixon, Jake Hausmann, and Trey Sermon. We’ll get into Justin Fields’ performance in just a bit, but I’m going to leave this route by Saunders for everyone to ponder.

Moving into the backfield, Trey Sermon was back and looked to be near 100% after the injury suffered on the first play against Alabama. Sermon found himself the best running back in the country down the stretch last season after a slow start, and he’s now ranked by PFN as the 4th back in the draft. I, for one, am huge on Trey Sermon, and his showing at the OSU Pro-Day did nothing for me except confirm that he will be a great triple-threat back in the NFL.

For the last position on the offensive side of the ball, and the reason most of you are here, quarterback Justin Fields. I mean, what all can I say? His 4.43 40-yard-dash was the fastest by a QB in this class, and he stumbled on his way to that. To say elite speed and escapability isn’t a great asset to an NFL quarterback in the year 2021 is a flat lie, and Fields has that and then some.

Unlike some of the speedsters we’ve seen at the position in the past, Fields may well have the most arm talent in the draft as well. Everyone went insane when Zach Wilson made an off balanced throw in is Pro-Day last week, and Fields said “that’s cute, watch this” in his workout. In terms of impact, the media seems to have “found” the gem of this draft, and are moving Fields into the top-5 conversation. As for anyone who has seen any sliver of Fields’ game over the past two years, this didn’t tell anything that we didn’t know; Justin Fields is as good as any QB in this draft and lazy takes from “scouts” have brainwashed people otherwise.

Here’s some of his best throws from the remainder of his workout.

Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, perhaps the biggest name in the class was unable to go due to a bout with turf-tow. Shaun Wade has a private workout set for April 14th, but still made his way to the Woody in order to be with his teammates. What we did see from this defense, however, were some of the best front seven players in the entire country.

On the DL, Tommy Togiai put up an class-best 40 reps on the bench, falling short of the combine record 49 he was shooting for. Nonetheless, Togiai had a great Pro-Day, and showed national media why PFN, and many others, have him as the 4th DT in the 2021 draft. On the edge, we saw inaugural “Block-O” recipient Jonathon Cooper not only working out with Togiai on the defensive line, but also took a step back to the linebacker position to display his versatility within multiple schemes to the scouts and GMs at the event. At a 4.69 40 and 28 reps, Cooper has the speed and strength to compete with the best of them. I believe that the late round grade that he has gotten may be due for an update, and wouldn’t be shocked to see Cooper go in the middling rounds of this one.

Now comes arguably the deepest section of the Ohio State draft class, the linebacking corps. In the words of LeBron James, the Buckeyes had “not one, not two, not three,” but four guys looking to turn pro from the LB position. Of the four, just one had a bad day, and it wound up really bad for Tuf Borland.

Borland was never the best guy at OSU, but him starting at 6’0″ 230 pounds was impressive enough to have you rooting for his success. Unfortunately, he posted a 4.99 40 time, and 15 reps, finding himself the 1839th linebacker out of 2118 since 1987 in terms of Relative Athletic Score. Now, I love Tuf, but it’s hard for me to see a team taking him as anything other than a highly situational UDFA with measurables like that.

On the flip side, Borland’s teammates Pete Werner, Baron Browning, and Justin Hilliard had very good showings, and likely threw themselves into the middle rounds of this draft. With Werner and Browning both being mocked as top-five at their respective positions, and 3rd round picks did nothing but assure teams that they are the real deal. I wouldn’t be shocked one bit to see these guys snatched up before then, though, and Browning even less so after the offseason he’s had.

Special Teams

Last, but certainly not least, we have the bottle flip king himself, Drue Chrisman. Chrisman has established himself over the past few years as the best punter in the country, and there’s really nobody close. While Chrisman didn’t run any of the combine drills at his Pro-Day, his presence is always welcomed for Buckeye fans. He may not be drafted, as he is a punter, but Chrisman will almost certainly get his shot to flip bottles and kick footballs at the next level.

That wraps up my coverage of the 2021 Ohio State Football Pro-Day, and I hope y’all are excited for this upcoming draft as I am. From Urban and some former players dropping in, to getting to watch QB1 in the Woody again, Tuesday was a great day in the college football offseason.

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