This week the attention of the football world turns again to Indianapolis, where the NFL Scouting Combine is set to be held after a one-year hiatus.
Seven players are set to represent Ohio State.
All seven have starter potential even if only one or two is seen as having star potential, making this group resemble the draft class as a whole.
“I can go through and look at last year’s draft and how loaded it was up there at the top that I could find probably 10 guys that would have an opportunity to be the first pick in this year’s draft,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “This year’s draft has got a lot of depth and there’s a lot as you go outside of the top 10 that you love as you go through it, but in terms of being top heavy, I think last year’s draft, man, again, you could come up with probably 10 names that would have a chance to be the first pick this year.”
Jeremiah has Ohio State junior Garrett Wilson ranked sixth in his top 50 released Monday morning with fellow receiver Chris Olave 26th, but he noted receivers frequently are drafted lower than they are ranked because college football seems to be producing more and more good ones every year.
“I think he’s the best receiver in the draft in my opinion,” Jeremiah said of Wilson. “He can do everything. He is a complete wide receiver.
“We talk about the speed guys in this draft and we talk about the physical play-above-the-rim guys, I think he gives you a little bit of both of that with what he can do after the catch as well.”
The analyst said he sees Olave as part of a large group of receivers who could go late in the first round or somewhere in the second.
“It’s a great wide receiver draft,” he said. “I feel like we could copy and paste the comments on wide receivers and use it for the next 20 years, because the college game is giving us a ton of these guys every year.”
He views Olave and Penn State star Jahan Dotson in much the same light.
“They’re going to fly around in Indy, and maybe that helps elevate them up the board a little bit, but both those guys are pristine route runners with big time speed.
“Both these guys, I think the reason why they would be there in the 20s is because of the play strength question. Both of them are going to be under 190 pounds, and you just wish they were a little bit physically stronger.”
Jeremiah called the rest of the Ohio State combine contingent — tight end Jeremy Ruckert, offensive linemen Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere and defensive linemen Haskell Garrett and Tyreke Smith — a good group.
“Ruckert is somebody who didn’t have a lot of opportunities there in terms of targets — only had 42 targets this year — (but) he’s kind of a good, true tight end,” Jeremiah said. “Hand-in-the-ground, not real flashy, not real explosive, but he can help you out in the run game and he’s a reliable pass catcher.”
He gave Ruckert a fourth-round grade heading into the combine while Petit-Frere is closer to a three.
“I wouldn’t be shocked if he snuck into the second round, but he’s got real quick feet,” Jeremiah said of Petit-Frere. “He can really work his hands. I thought he just needed to play with a little more strength. He gives a little ground versus power, but he’s got a lot of athleticism. There’s a lot of stuff to work with.”
After starting at both left tackle and left guard for the Buckeyes, Munford is viewed as a fourth-round prospect by Jeremiah heading into the combine.
“Where do you play him? Do you play him at guard? Do you play him at tackle? He’s got good awareness,” Jeremiah said. “He just played really high, and that got exposed a little bit against some of the better competition.
Smith is also in the fourth-round range after notching three sacks last season.
“He’s talented,” Jeremiah said. “He’s got a lot of twitch. He’s got a lot of juice coming off the edge. He just needs to be a little more firm in the run game. He got washed a little bit too much with that.”
Then there is Garrett, a 2020 All-American who played through some injuries last season.
The interior lineman led the team with 5.5 sacks, but three of them came against an overmatched Akron front.
“If you watched Akron, you’d think he was going to be the first pick in the draft,” Jeremiah said. “He loved playing the Zips. He had three sacks in that game and got after them, but he’s probably somebody that’s more of a fifth-round guy.”