"When you go into the free agency process, you really want to do your research on where you have your best chance of seeing the field. You don't want to go somewhere where you might have practice squad hopes or something like that. And I felt the Lions really gave me the best opportunity to get on the field as fast as possible."
Former Ohio State offensive lineman Chase Farris was one of the few handful of Buckeyes not to be taken in the 2016 NFL draft, but still was able to find a new team to call home. The Detroit Lions called Farris up and signed him as an undrafted free agent following the draft, bringing Farris to Detroit with his former Ohio State teammate Taylor Decker. Decker was drafted by the Lions with the 16th overall pick in the first round. Now the two former Buckeyes will get a chance to team up in Detroit and help protect quarterback Matthew Stafford. While Farris was one of four total linemen that the Lions drafted, he feels confident that this team gives him one of the best spots to compete for playing time.
Though Farris played right tackle for Ohio State last season, he's said that he's looking to be as versatile as possible for the Lions and is focused on being able to play both inside and out on the offensive line. After working out with Decker at LeCharles Bentley's offensive line academy in Arizona, and then a workout together for the Lions, Farris felt comfortable with his chances about ending up with the team. He might not have been drafted, but Farris still got a $10,000 signing bonus and another $10,000 guaranteed of his salary in 2016.
"Ohio State made a seamless transition from Carlos Hyde to Ezekiel Elliott the last time it had to replace a superstar tailback. The Buckeyes may do so again, but the picture after spring is not so clear cut as when Elliott ascended."
When examining the biggest question marks for Ohio State following its spring camp for the 2016 season, one of the key positions that stand out is at running back. The Buckeyes lost Ezekiel Elliott to the draft, who was an All-American at the position. Returning running back Bri'onte Dunn enters the year as the senior and was thought to be an early favorite to win the job. But with having to sit out here and there with some injuries this spring opened the door for freshman Mike Weber to take a shot at the starting spot. And although Weber displayed his ability in the spring game, the coaching staff hasn't been too convinced it's his job to lose.
Dunn and Weber have been 'neck-and-neck' throughout camp in a position battle that will surely rage on in fall camp and potentially could see split time between the pair during games should one not emerge outright as the lone starter. The good news for Ohio State is that another position, the defensive line spots, seem to be strong as ever, or at least, aren't giving much of a drop-off. With members including Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Tyquan Lewis, and Jashon Cornell, the line is set up to be another strong position group this fall.
"27. Cincinnati Bengals - Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State. 31. Seattle Seahawks - Pat Elflein, OG/OC, Ohio State."
If you haven't had enough of the NFL draft, there's already a mock draft for the 2017 draft class. It's no surprise that Ohio State made a couple of spots on the list, either. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan is the first Buckeye mentioned on the mock, and it makes sense considering the expectations for the junior are fairly high for the upcoming season. Should he anchor the linebacking core for the Buckeyes and have an excellent season, it's entirely possible he jumps to the next level. The leader on defense for 2016 had a strong showing in 2015 as the starting middle linebacker for Ohio State. He did share the load with Darron Lee and Joshua Perry, however, and will now be looked at as one of the stars on the defensive side of the ball.
The second and only other Buckeye to make it on the mock draft was offensive lineman Pat Elflein. The offensive guard is switching to center for Ohio State this season and returned to help improve his overall ability. He could have declared for the 2016 NFL draft but instead returned to the team to gain experience and gain some versatility for the next level. One of the top returning starters, Elflein is projected to go 31st overall to the Seahawks in this mock draft, though it being so early, there's plenty of time for movement along the projection board.