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Ohio State Buckeyes in the NFL preview, Part I: The offense

From highly-touted draft picks to UDFAs, there are a lot of former Buckeyes suiting up in the NFL this fall. In the first of a two-part series, we take a look at the offensive players.

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The roster of former Buckeyes in the NFL is dominated by offensive linemen (just about the most #B1G attribute a program can have), but there are a few skill position players capable of making noise, too. We'll break down each player, and make some projections about the kind of season they'll have in 2014.


Terrelle Pryor, Seattle Seahawks: Pryor is the only Ohio State quarterback in the league. After a brief stint with the Oakland Raiders in which he appeared in 14 games, putting up 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, Pryor was traded to the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks this offseason for a 7th-round draft pick. There's not much chance that TP sees a lot of time on the field this season--you may have heard of Russell Wilson, Seattle's current starting QB--but on such a good team, there are always garbage-time opportunities to be had. Pryor will compete for the No. 2 spot with veteran Tarvaris Jackson.

Running back

Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers: El Guapo should lock up the 49ers' No. 2 spot behind the incumbent Frank Gore. San Francisco is great about spreading touches around, and the 31-year-old Gore will certainly need plays (or whole games) off from time to time. The likes of Kendall Hunter and Glen Coffey have vultured touchdowns from Gore in the past, so expect Hyde to find the endzone a handful of times this season. If he can keep Marcus Lattimore and Jewel Hampton at bay, that is.

Daniel "Boom" Herron, Indianapolis Colts: Herron projects to be the Colts' 3rd-string RB behind Trent Richardson and former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw. Richardson was bad in Cleveland and worse in a half-season in Indy last year, so the depth chart isn't set in stone here.

Jordan Hall, Pittsburgh Steelers: Hall will be fighting for relevance (and a roster spot) in a deep Steelers backfield behind Le'veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, and fellow rookie Dri Archer.

Zach Boren (FB), San Diego Chargers: Boren is the only Ohio State fullback currently playing in the league. He projects as the Chargers' second-stringer at the position, behind former Steeler David Johnson.

Chris "Beanie" Wells, free agent: The former 9th-overall pick has struggled in his NFL tenure, to say the least. Wells suffered a major Achilles injury while working out for the Ravens in October, and hasn't landed anywhere else since.

Wide receiver

Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins: Who would have seen this coming back in the day? Hartline, who will start for the Dolphins opposite Mike Wallace, has had arguably the best pro career of any Ohio State wideout over the last half-decade--save for the next entry on our list.

Santonio Holmes, Chicago Bears: Holmes was recently signed by the Bears, adding a new dimension to what was already one of the league's most formidable passing attacks. The former Buckeye could see plenty of targets this year, as defenses focus their attention on veteran Brandon Marshall and third-year monster Alshon Jeffery. Holmes has struggled on and off the field of late, so here's hoping his first season in Chicago sees him fare better than his last year as a member of the New York Jets' Flying Circus.

Philly Brown, Carolina Panthers: Things don't look great for Philly Brown heading into his rookie season in Carolina. The Panthers' receiving corps was widely panned last year, and with the departure of Steve Smith has probably gotten worse. Veterans Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are probably getting the nod over Brown to start the year, as is fellow rookie Kelvin Benjamin. Still, Avant and Cotchery have been decidedly vanilla their last few years in the league, and head coach Ron Rivera could continue to shake things up this season by giving the rookie wideout a chance at a more central role should they fail to produce early.

DeVier Posey, Houston Texans: Posey will likely be the Texans' third receiver heading into the season. The former Buckeye will play behind All-Star Andre Johnson and trendy fantasy pick DeAndre Hopkins. The quarterback position in Houston is a gigantic question mark, so don't expect this to be the year that Posey breaks out.

Ted Ginn, Jr., Arizona Cardinals: Ginn was streaky in Carolina's ineffective passing attack. He joins the Cardinals as their putative third receiver for 2014. When he stays healthy, Carson Palmer can put up monster passing numbers (along with a smorgasbord of astounding interceptions), so Ginn's ability to stretch defenses with his speed could see him perform better this year than he did in the Panthers' offense. Having opponents who are forced to double-cover Larry Fitzgerald can't hurt, either.

Dane Sanzenbacher, Cincinnati Bengals: Sanzenbacher sits somewhere in the 4th-6th receiver range for the Bengals in 2014. AJ Green is Cinci's clear No. 1, with Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu behind him. The Bengals also have a solid receiving tight end in Tyler Eifert. Cincinnati's first preseason game, in which Sanzenbacher found the endzone, sadly might be the biggest highlight for the former Buckeye wideout this year. But who knows! Maybe Andy Dalton was just waiting for the opportune moment to make the leap as a great quarterback who spreads the ball around--say, the signing of a monster new contract?

Brian Robiskie, Tennessee Titans: Robiskie is buried on Tennessee's depth chart. The veteran, a disappointment in Cleveland, probably won't turn many heads this season--if he even makes the final roster.

Tight end

Jake Stoneburner, Green Bay Packers: Stoneburner saw limited action as a rookie last season in Green Bay. Heading into the season, it looks as though Braxton Miller's 2011 safety valve (Stoneburner led the team in catches that year) will be lucky to see the field outside of special teams. The Packers, who have historically produced some great tight ends, already have Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick inked in for the top two TE spots. Short of an injury to a starter or a meteoric rise in ability, Stoneburner probably won't see much in-game action for a few years.

Ben Hartsock, Free Agent: Hartsock was cut by the New England Patriots on Aug. 14. Hartsock, who won a national championship at Ohio State, is primarily a blocking tight end. Here's hoping he's scooped up before the season starts.

Offensive line

Alex Boone, San Francisco 49ers: Boone, a former undrafted free agent, is currently holding out of 49ers camp in search of a new deal. In five seasons with San Francisco, Boone has been an absolute monster at right guard, and is regarded as one of the best in the league at his position. It's unclear what the team will do with Boone--it has a policy of not giving in to holdouts, and Jim Harbaugh has recently lauded Boone's backup Joe Looney for strong play in camp. Boone is due a new contract at the end of the 2015 season. Still, if he plays for San Francisco this season (and tries to play his way into a new deal), Boone will likely remain one of the most productive guards in the NFL.

Jack Mewhort, Indianapolis Colts: Mewhort is Indy's projected starter at left guard for 2014. This is no surprise--the rookie was taken in the 2nd round this year to help shore up the line that will protect Andrew Luck. The former Buckeye was insanely productive and versatile in college, making starts at left guard, right guard, and left tackle. Look for Mewhort to be the man guarding Luck's blindside for years to come, and to make an immediate impact this season.

Mike Brewster, Jacksonville Jaguars: Brewster has a lock on the starting center spot for the Jaguars heading into 2014. Brewster's first preseason start was a shaky one, but that's far from a harbinger of things to come. Jacksonville's quarterback situation is in flux, and having a solid player like Brewster at the line's point position will go a long way towards easing the transition from Chad Henne to Blake Bortles this year.

Nick Mangold, New York Jets: What's there to say about Mangold that hasn't been said already? He's one of the NFL's best centers year in and year out, and was an integral part of some otherwise-mediocre Jets teams that outperformed expectations. He'll continue to anchor NY's offensive line this season.

Rob Sims, Detroit Lions: The veteran Sims will start for Detroit at left guard in 2014. He has started every game for the Lions at that position since 2010, when he was traded from Seattle. This is a contract year for Sims, who has professed a desire to stay with Detroit when he inks what will likely be the final deal of his long career. If his productivity continues at the level we've seen for the last four seasons, someone will pay Sims good money in 2015, even if the Lions opt not to.

Mike Adams, Pittsburgh Steelers: Adams has struggled with injuries and poor play in his two seasons in Pittsburgh. He's currently the team's backup left tackle. Adams was benched four games into the 2013 season thanks to his uninspired play, and will have to work hard to earn his way back to steady playing time in 2014.

Corey Linsley, Green Bay Packers: Linsley won't be Green Bay's starting center this season (that honor belongs to incumbent JC Tretter), but he's a solid backup who'll get a chance eventually--even if it's not in Green Bay. If nothing else, he's at least making fans smile.

Bryant Browning, Pittsburgh Steelers: Browning, originally signed by the Rams in 2011 as a UDFA, has been a member of six NFL teams in three years. In that time, he has only appeared in one regular season game--for the Panthers, that same season. He's not a lock to make the Steelers' roster this season, but he's had a hard road and is worth rooting for.

Andrew Norwell, Carolina Panthers: It was somewhat surprising that Norwell didn't hear his name called on draft day this year. He signed as a UDFA with Carolina, where he's fighting for a roster spot at left guard.

Marcus Hall, Indianapolis Colts: The man with the most famous fingers in football is currently projected as the backup for former Buckeye teammate Jack Mewhort. Mewhort looks to have a stranglehold on the position, so don't expect to see Hall taking too many snaps on regular downs in 2014.

Jake McQuaide, St. Louis Rams: McQuaide has been the Rams' long snapper since 2011. It's awfully difficult to have a lot to say about the LS position, so, uhh...look for McQuaide to keep getting the ball to the punter in a timely fashion.

Reid Fragel, Cleveland Browns: Fragel is currently competing for Cleveland's backup right tackle spot, behind Mitchell Schwartz. The former tight end was drafted by the Bengals two years ago before being added to the Browns' roster. Fragel's not a guarantee to make the final roster cut, but he's had a decent camp so far.

J.B. Shugarts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Shugarts is another former Buckeye who's not a lock to make his team's final roster. He's promising enough that he could land somewhere else if the Bucs cut him, but he's not starter-caliber.