“Way too early” NFL mock drafts are becoming like… ummm.. opinions in that everyone has them.
They generally serve little purpose aside from driving clicks, but in the case of the NFL Draft coverage, driving clicks is the main purpose of all content so it’s a good fit.
Of course, predicting which prospects might end up where a year from now is a fool’s errand since we can only guess at what the draft order will be.
However, college fans can be forgiven if they are curious to know which of their team’s players are going to be the apples of NFL personnel peoples’ eyes next winter and spring.
That brings us to Ohio State’s potential 2020 draft contingent.
After nine Buckeyes were drafted in 2019, how many might go next year?
We will bread it down, starting with the senior class today with the underclassmen to follow tomorrow.
Probable: Receivers K.J. Hill and Austin Mack, safety Jordan Fuller, linebacker Malik Harrison
Despite being overshadowed by some of his teammates, Hill arguably has been Ohio State’s most reliable pass catcher over the past two seasons and could have left this year. He has a knack for getting open in the slot, something increasingly important in the NFL, and making clutch catches. Playing all over the field could expand his draft profile this season.
Mack has played a lot the last two years but a foot injury wiped out the end of his junior season, so coming back to prove he is healthy and potentially put up big numbers made the most sense.
Fuller is the best example in this group of seniors-to-be about how fluid these lists can be. A year ago we would have penciled him into the list of likely early entries, but he started the year less than 100 percent healthy and was inconsistent last fall. New coaches and scheme (plus a little of that senior urgency) could combine to propel Fuller to a big 2019 as he is talented, versatile and smart. New defensive co-coordinator Greg Mattison has noted the free safety is among the most important players in modern football, so Fuller could be showcased this fall in the new defense.
Harrison considered going pro but opted to come back. He has flashed some playmaking ability but also been inconsistent. Again in his case a new position coach could put Harrison over the top, and he received a lot of praise from linebackers coach Al Washington in the spring.
Less certain but still likely: Defensive lineman Jonathon Cooper, offensive lineman Branden Bowen, receiver Binjimen Victor, cornerback Damon Arnette
Arnette is a two-year starter already and another player who was inconsistent last fall while dealing with some injuries. As a cornerback, he could benefit even more from new techniques and coverages being installed by Jeff Hafley, the other new co-defensive coordinator.
The 6-foot-4 Victor has the type of frame and raw ability to get the attention of NFL scouts, but he needs to show what he can do on the field on a consistent basis.
Bowen is a big, physical athlete who hopes to be able to show teams what he can do two years after a nasty leg injury. His best trait could be his versatility as he can play guard or tackle.
Cooper doesn’t have the measurables that will blow teams away, but the Ohio State pedigree developed by Larry Johnson should help him if he has a productive senior campaign.
In the discussion with rousing final season: Tight end Rashod Berry, offensive linemen Josh Alabi and Jonah Jackson, defensive linemen Davon Hamilton, Jashon Cornell and Robert Landers
A former high school basketball star, Berry has the athleticism for sure, but will he get the opportunities to show his stuff this fall with as many as four tight ends worthy of playing time?
Landers is undersized even at the college level, but the Wayne graduate has a knack for getting in the backfield. Underestimate him at your own risk.
Cornell is a converted end who could blossom at 3-technique while Alabi and Jackson (a graduate transfer from Rutgers) will have to compete to earn a starting job.
The senior class alone has a shot at extending Ohio State’s six-year streak of having five or more players drafted, but what about the juniors and third-year sophomores? We’ll take a look at them next.