With the seal having been broken on Ohio State Buckeyes being drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, the question now becomes whether or not a slow trickle plays out over the course of this afternoon, or the whole thing gives way leading to a frenzied run on ex-Bucks.
Etienne Sabino is a guy who knows that his college career didn't exactly go as he envisioned. Coming out of Dr. Krop High School in the Miami, Florida area, Sabino was graded by Rivals as a four star prospect and by Scout as a five star. Many expert talent evaluators considered him one of the best linebacker prospects in the country, and having been tutored in part by Chris Spielman's late father Sonny in Florida, there was some thoughts he was tailor made to have an early impact at OSU a la James Laurinaitis and wind up joining the pantheon of recent excellent Buckeye linebackers.
While no one really expected him to start on day one, Sabino factored in to all four of Ohio State special teams as a frosh, and even scored a touchdown against Purdue in 2008 on a blocked punt. But though he was in the mix for a starting job as early as his sophomore season, Sabino in many ways echoed the failure to live up to potential many Ohio State fans would equate with current Buckeye MLB Curtis Grant.
Sabino hit "bottom" when he took a healthy redshirt in 2010 after losing out on the starting Sam linebacker job to Andrew Sweat (who later walked away from a shot as an UDFA with the Browns to go to law school). There were murmurs going into the since lost in time 2011 Sugar Bowl that his redshirt would be burned just for that game, but after he and the team played the far more prudent card and held off, he was on-again off-again in terms of impact making when he returned to action the next season.
Finally Sabino seemed ready to to take advantage of his natural skills and come into his own his senior season, but a broken fibula curbed his season at just eight games. He still managed a respectable 45 tackles, 2 sacks, and a pick during those 8 contests, and though still not the player many thought he'd eventually become, Sabino's play represented a dramatic shift from the underachiever he'd been during the previous three seasons of game action.
Optimistic scouts might be inclined to say that Sabino is "peaking at the right time", while the cynics would undoubtedly belittle the fact that it took Sabino five years in Columbus to become who he is. Still, it's hard to deny the natural ability which should give him a shot to not just contribute on special teams, but potentially play his way into some run at strong side linebacker at the next level.
The lack of "quick hips" has also been used as a knock on Sabino (and could factor prominently if as some expect he winds up playing on the outside as opposed to the middle where he finished his career in Columbus), but with the right coaching (and some improved behavior on not just how he moves but how he makes the most out of the space around him), it's definitely not out of the question that he finds himself on your linebacker depth chart sooner rather than later.
You could do far worse than giving Etienne Sabino a shot. And given his background of success on special teams in college, you probably won't need an ego check to get some productivity out of him in the interim while he attempts to transition into the linebacking position at the next level.