We've all discussed the superstars that could be drafted this year. Big John Hankins has declared and is being lauded as a top-ten to top-fifteen pick by pundits such as Kiper, McShay, and CBS' Rob Rang. John Simon, Travis Howard and Jake Stoneburner should have no problem getting drafted. But where are the unsung heroes likely to end up? We were surprised last year when Boom Herron wasn't drafted as highly as we thought he might be, but he seems to have caught on in Cincinnati. Kurt Coleman is another late round Buckeye that has made waves, although he has struggled this year. Other players such as Dane Sanzenbacher and Anderson Russell have indeed bounced around, but it looks like those two may have chances to catch on with teams as well yet. So if your favorite Buckeye's name isn't called on draft day, fear not – we'll take a look at those guys who may be signed as undrafted free agents in the NFL off-season and talk about what they bring to the table.
Zach Boren, FB/LB, SR - One of our esteemed commenters mentioned last time we discussed the draft that Boren might get a look on draft day. My argument is that his numbers at linebacker were too little, too late to interrupt the NFL scouts. I think Boren will surprise some people and catch on as a special teamer, a la Heath Farwell of the Minnesota Vikings. I also think it's not impossible that he gets some attention on defense as coaches will really like how quickly he picked up the system. But with the diminishing importance of fullbacks in general in high-level football, Boren will probably not hear his name called. He will be one of the first names GMs across the leagues call, though, whether that opportunity comes as a fullback/h-back, or on D.
Nathan Williams, DE/OLB, SR - I did pick him to be drafted, but as the beat goes on and we hear more from scouts and other folks in the know, I'm leaning more towards him being another UDFA. Williams was lost from scouts' minds after taking basically a year and a half off with an injury. It really stinks, but injuries happen. Nate will have to show that he has recovered and has the same lateral quickness that he did when he was dominating offensive linemen his sophomore and junior seasons. It's not likely his character issues earlier in his career will doom his prospects on the third day or beyond.
Ben Buchanan, P, SR - Yeah, Buchanan isn't getting drafted. He may not even get a look due to his slow release on kicks, but he still has the leg strength and accuracy to impress some special teams coaches. I'd be willing to bet he ends up as a camp body and surprises some team. His ceiling is a fringe punter in the league.
Orhian Johnson, S, SR - I unabashedly love Orhian Johnson. I am an "O" homer. I think he brings leadership, physicality, and a willingness to be a leader when he needs to be. Orhian seemed to be one of leaders of the secondary this year when he was on the field. The problem is his physical talent limitations. He struggles in space against quick players and also has issues at times in pass coverage despite knowing where everyone else needs to be. Johnson reminds me of a guy who has labored on the Bengals' practice squad and injured list - safety Robert Sands. Johnson has his size but lacks Sands' physicality, and that's why his call may not come.
Storm Klein, LB, SR - We all know Klein's story and the off the field issues he had. Along with his suspension and the slightly low statistical production, Klein doesn't really have much to offer an NFL team in general. He is a step slow and is another Buckeye defender that cannot seem to cover athletic, quick players in front of him in one-on-one situations. He also struggles to get off blocks, which is at least a good trait of Zach Boren's. Klein is at best a special teamer such as Larry Grant, and at worst a camp body.
One of the best things about this 2012 team, besides the whole going undefeated thing, is the relative youth of it. Most of its key stars were sophomores and juniors, which will only help them in 2013. The team doesn't lose all of its best players to graduation and the draft, and that gives us even more to look forward to as Buckeye fans begin the countdown – 246 days until the Buckeyes play Buffalo.