With the 2014 NFL Draft in the books, we look ahead to the Buckeyes' 2015 NFL Draft prospects. Six former Buckeyes were selected in last week's draft, while nine more were signed as undrafted free agents or were given a training camp tryout. When looking at the amount of defensive players who were drafted in 2014 and will be drafted in 2015, it is a real shot at the defensive coaching staff after how poorly they played last season.
This is an early projection of where some of the seniors and potential underclassmen who could declare early will end up in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Noah Spence* - Spence is a consensus first round talent and with his combination of size and quickness off of the ball, he looks like the prototypical NFL 4-3 defensive end . If he returns from his three-game suspension and plays the way he has his whole career, expect Spence to be Ohio State's 70th first round selection in their illustrious history.
Michael Bennett - NFL teams are coveting interior pass rushers and Bennett fits the bill. He possesses similar size to Aaron Donald and a similar first step to the Rams' newest first round pick. Bennett registered 7.5 sacks in 2013 and he should be even better in 2014 with a stacked defensive line around him. Right now, Bennett is being projected as a first round selection.
Doran Grant - This may be a surprise to some but Grant is being talked about as a potential first or second round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. It shouldn't surprise the more scout minded though, as Grant was the Buckeye's most consistent cornerback last season while he was playing across from a future first round pick. New defensive coordinator Chris Ash is looking to play a more aggressive scheme this year and Grant will be looked at to be the leader of the secondary.
Braxton Miller - Miller is the biggest question mark out of the bunch when it comes to his draft stock, as he is immensely talented but he lacks the traits of a NFL quarterback. Miller had a stretch after returning from injury last season where he looked like a NFL quarterback, then he was a disaster throwing the ball in the team's final few games. He will not be able to work with quarterback guru George Whitfield this summer due to his shoulder injury but he should be sharp mentally after spending spring practice on the sidelines and in the film room. This is a make or break season for the talented signal-caller as his draft stock could be as high as the second round and as low as the sixth round.
Jeff Heuerman - Heuerman has the perfect build to play tight end in today's NFL, standing at 6'5 and 255 pounds. He is also a great athletewith a 36.5 inch vertical jump and a team-leading 33 repetitions on the bench press. Heuerman should be Miller's first or second target this season which should improve his production from the tight end position. His ceiling may be the highest out of all of the Buckeye prospects.
Taylor Decker* - He is mostly known for being the best supporting actor of 2013 top-5 pick Khalil Mack's highlight tape but Decker improved after what many forget was his first career start. Decker has excellent size (6'7, 315 pounds) and he will get to showcase his skills this season by protecting Miller's blindside for the entire year. If he has a great season, he could make the jump to the NFL but I would expect him to come back for his senior season.
Adolphus Washington* - Washington's name used to be mentioned in the same breath as Spence's but he was overshadowed and pushed down the depth chart after the emergence of freshman Joey Bosa. Washington can play the 3-technique and the 5-technique and he will be able to showcase his versatility in 2014.
Devin Smith - Smith has been Miller's secondary target the past two seasons and he possesses excellent straight line speed, which would be used in the NFL to take the top off of the defense. He needs to become more of a complete route runner but Smith could be a potential breakout candidate in 2014 which would increase his draft stock.
Undrafted free agents
Curtis Grant - He was highly recruited out of high school but he has also not lived up to the hype in his first three seasons as a Buckeye. NFL scouts will see his talent and still give him a shot (see: Seantrel Henderson).
Evan Spencer - Spencer started every game that he played in last season and although he did not produce as much as he should have as a starting wide receiver, he is a very good blocker on the perimeter and he should follow in Chris Field's footsteps.
Rod Smith - Standing at 6'3 and 231 pounds, Smith is a bruising tailback who should see more time this year than years past. With his combination of size and speed, he should get a chance to crack a NFL roster.
Chad Lindsay - The Alabama transfer will play his final season at Ohio State to show scouts that he can play center for a top school, at a high level. Coach Meyer has developed NFL caliber centers throughout his career (Mike Pouncey, Corey Linsley) and hopefully he can get Lindsay NFL ready too.
Joel Hale - The former defensive tackle (started 11 games in 2013) made the switch to the offensive line in the offseason. It will be interesting though to see if he stays on the offensive line throughout camp. Either way, NFL scouts will like his team first approach and his flexibility on both the offensive and defensive line.
*- Denotes underclassman