Now that the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine has passed, the last chance for Buckeye prospects to show their skills will be at Ohio State's Pro Day on campus in Columbus March 8th. In terms of what transpired in Indianapolis, however, Reid Fragel and Jake Stoneburner had excellent performances, Etienne Sabino and Nathan Williams held their own in individual drills, and Johnathan Hankins struggled and looked a bit slow and sloppy, putting his first-round pick status in jeopardy.
One of the better draft analysts anywhere on the web (perhaps unsurprisingly) is also part of the SB Nation family. Cincy Jungle's Joe Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) is a strong follow on Twitter for NFL Draft news and analysis and can break down pretty much any player or any team you throw his way. Joe offers an NFL scout's perspective and checks all pretensions and biases at the door when it comes to scouting and performance evaluation. When he talks, amateur draftniks listen. Accordingly, we caught up with Joe in this special post-combine edition of '5 minutes in the Holy Land' to get his take on the performance of the Buckeyes at the combine, as well as what comes next.
I hate to ask you this softball question to start out, but we all have our NFL Combine winners and losers. Did any particular Buckeye stand out in a positive or negative way?
I think Reid Fragel and Jake Stoneburner were the obvious Buckeyes to stand out in Indianapolis. But I do think lower radared prospects like Nate Williams and Etienne Sabino also put there names out there after showing they belong in measured drills.
Reid Fragel was a workout warrior. Are you seeing anything on tape that would raise his draft stock from where it was in the 5th-6th round before the combine/pro days?
On tape, his physical upside was apparent. There were a few games where he looked promising as a mid-to-late round pick. The combine only confirmed what most thought; Fragel is on everybody's list of developmental players with a starting NFL future. I really like him and I think he'll add strength, bulk and technique with an NFL team.
This being an Ohio State-focused site, many of the denizens of Land-Grant Holy Land have pro football allegiances to Ohio's football teams (some of our writers notwithstanding). Do any of Ohio State's prospects match any needs that the Bengals have? How about the Browns?
I think the Bengals will be looking for a developmental offensive tackle with starting left tackle upside and we've already talked about Reid Fragel. Both the Browns and Bengals could be looking for OLB depth/starters. John Simon and the aforementioned Nate Williams would fit in Cleveland's 3-4 and as Cincinnati's strongsidelLinebacker role. I've seen some project Jon Hankins as a 3-4 defensive end and the Browns may be looking there as well.
We've heard all along that there are concerns with Big John Hankins' motor, though he has the physical tools to be a first rounder. Did Hankins' sloppy performance at the combine knock him out of first-round contention in your eyes?
I never had Hankins as a first round prospect before the combine. I agreed with the motor questions even though he never really got a chance to fully on break out at OSU, and I didn't think he was a good enough athlete to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL. His combine performance did nothing to help him. I'm afraid he's locked in a 2nd or even 3rd round grade from teams. This is a seriously phenomenal DT class filled with premium pass rushers. Hankins could see a similar stock-drop as (former Penn Stater and current Bengal) Devon Still, who was considered a first round pick but wasn't selected until 53rd overall.
Jake Stoneburner has great physical tools but was criminally underused throughout his entire tenure in Columbus. Does Jake Stoneburner project as more of a tight end, h-back, or maybe even a wide receiver (a la how Matt Jones once did) at the next level?
I liked Stoneburner coming into Indy. He's reliable and a sneaky athlete. I likened him to Chris Cooley. He had a very good combine and showed he can be more than an average athlete. I think he's a "move-TE" or H-back like Cooley was and you can split him into the slot or out wide and try to create mismatches.
Which Buckeye player will need to stand out and make teams re-evaluate his film at Ohio State's Pro Day?
Well, Hankins needs a rebound at the Pro Day, but Etienne Sabino and Nate Williams have a chance to confirm their combine performances and make teams dig deep into the limited film of each and recognize that each one can make an NFL team.
Lastly, Nate Ebner's sixth-round selection by the New England Patriots shocked but pleased many Buckeye partisans. Are there any Buckeye players that are sleeper prospects in your eyes? Could anyone from this year's draft class be the next Nate Ebner?
Man, if I could pick the next Nate Ebner, I would be hired by an NFL team. A guy I do think is flying under the radar is cornerback Travis Howard. He has the prototype size and length of the modern day CB and he isn't afraid to play the run. I question his feet and that usually stems from technique issues, but I think he could be viewed as a potential free safety to NFL teams. Maybe a hybrid type guy that gets unto a practice squad for a year. Either way, I think he can help on special teams and that gets your foot into the door.