Ohio State football: From high school potential to the 2014 NFL Draft

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

How did Ohio State develop Roby, Shazier, and Hyde from high school prospects to NFL Draftees?

Now that the draft has come and gone, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the development of the first three drafted Ohio State players, Shazier, Roby, and Hyde. I compared their high school scouting reports (from Scout.com) with Dan Kadar’s NFL Draft prospect notes to try and get at how each player’s strengths and weaknesses changed during their time at Ohio State.

Some of the differences between the scouting reports are due to the varying perceptions between the scouts themselves (and it's only two scouts out of many), and some are due to the greater availability of game film from college, but at least some of the differences are because Ohio State’s coaching staff(s) developed Roby, Shazier, and Hyde throughout their college careers.

All three changed positions when they became Buckeyes (Shazier was a defensive end for much of high school), but scouts couldn’t even agree on what positions Roby and Hyde would actually play at Ohio State. All three were considered far better NFL prospects than college prospects (though Shazier was highly ranked), in part because the Ohio State staff decided on final positions for the three, which allowed them to specialize their trainings and meet their individual athletic potentials.

Bradley Roby

Draft position: 31st
HS position rank: 44th
HS position rating: ★★★

HS Strength HS Areas for Improvement NFL Strengths NFL Areas for Improvement
Closing speed Hands "Reliable hands"
Closing speed 
"Athleticism" 
"Lacking physicality"
"Lack of technique"
"Lack of discipline" 

Comments: While pegged as a corner by Scout, Roby’s evaluation was written as a wide receiver, the position he played most in high school. Reading his high school evaluation, you’re left with the impression that Roby is a physical specimen as a skill player, but without a definite position (or developed technique at any single position).

His hands were an area of improvement as a high school wide receiver, but they were "reliable" as a college defensive back, which sounds about right. What qualifies as "reliable hands" for a defensive back may be totally inadequate for a wide receiver.

Both his high school evaluator and Dan Kadar agree that Roby’s physical assets are almost without parallel, but his lack of technique at corner is his biggest downside. I get the sense that Ohio State’s scheme didn’t do him any favors for his final season especially, preventing Roby from etnirely displaying his abilities as a lockdown man corner. Kadar notes that Roby has experience in zone in college, but that was unfortunately when he performed the worst.

In short, turning Roby into a full-time corner did the most for Roby by channeling his raw physical abilities. However, Roby started college with a lack of technique, and left college still "lacking technique" - how he performs in the NFL will allow us to gauge whether that lack of technique and discipline is more on the coaches, the scheme, or on Roby himself.

Ryan Shazier

Draft position: 15th
HS Position rank: 5
HS position rating: ★★★★

HS Strength HS Areas for Improvement NFL Strengths NFL Areas for Improvement

Athleticism
Speed

Pass coverage skills
Shedding ability
"Natural ability to succeed in coverage"
Instincts/playmaking
Agility
"Over aggressive in pass coverage"
Shedding blockers
Strength in pass rush
Tackling technique

Comments: Shazier was well-thought of coming out of high school, but was actually not the highest-rated linebacker in the 2011 OSU class - that would be Curtis Grant. Unlike Roby, who shot up from being rated as the 44th best player at his position, Shazier has confirmed and slightly exceeded high schools scouts' expectations.

In fact, his strengths and areas for improvement are almost exactly the same: Shazier is an elite athlete in terms of speed and agility, but his smaller size and strength prevent him from shedding blockers as effectively as some NFL teams would like. In an outside linebacker-heavy draft, Shazier wasn’t the top at his position mainly for this reason. While Kadar rightly points out that his tackling technique and pass rush could be inconsistent, there probably wasn’t a better OLB in the draft in terms of sideline-to-sideline coverage, blitzing ability, and pass coverage raw ability.

Shazier often had to compensate for the other linebackers (and sometimes defensive backs) at Ohio State, both in terms of coverage responsibilities and playmaking. This added responsibility – real or imagined by Shazier himself – might be responsible for his tendency to be overaggressive in pass coverage. However, his deepest flaw is the same it was in high school: his size and strength.

Carlos Hyde

Draft position: 57th
HS Position rank: 1st (fullback)
HS position rating: ★★★★

HS Strength HS Areas for Improvement NFL Strengths NFL Areas for Improvement
Blocking ability
Power
Toughness
Breakaway speed
Change of direction
Elusiveness
Acceleration
Solid hands
Breaking tackles
Vision
"Lack of elusiveness"
Top-end speed

Comments: Like Roby, Hyde switched positions from high school and became an elite NFL prospect, despite not being taken as the first running back in the draft. Hyde actually shared the backfield in high school, but scouts recognized that he had the potential to be a talented fullback in college.

It’s hard to blame the high school scouts for their analysis of Hyde, since his strengths and weaknesses corresponded to a fullback much more than a running back: lack of breakaway speed and elusiveness, with limited ability to change direction in the open field.

However, while at Ohio State, Hyde developed underrated acceleration that compensated for his lower top-end speed. His acceleration and powerful running style go hand in hand for getting Hyde into the second level. Without developing his acceleration and vision, Hyde wouldn’t have been drafted nearly as high. Assuming a steady trajectory for Hyde’s development, San Francisco is really the perfect fit for Hyde. He’ll get plenty of rushing opportunities, the power-spread-to-run scheme fits him perfectly, and there are enough weapons on the 49ers that he shouldn’t have to carry the load all by himself.

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