While loads of Buckeye rookies will be contributing for their new NFL teams this fall, there are some incoming players who might have to work a little harder to wiggle their way onto the starting roster. Despite not having a starting role right away, these players are still likely to make the final 53-man rosters in August and see at least some playing time during the regular season.
The 2016 season could prove to be make or break for at least five former Ohio State players as they try to navigate their way in the NFL. Both Cardale Jones and Adolphus Washington were drafted to the Bills, with the remaining three Buckeyes signing on to various teams as undrafted free agents.
Drafted with the expectation that the Buckeye would see playing time early in the 2016 regular season, he’ll need to show improvements throughout the summer and into training camp if he wants to earn and keep a starting role.
The lineman saw some additional snaps during OTAs due to Kyle Williams unable to participate following his knee injury last season. These reps should hopefully get the rookie comfortable in his new scheme, as well as allow him to grow in some of the areas, like with “gap-responsibility and going down the line of scrimmage to make plays”.
While he could see some time as a starter, unless things turn around quickly this might be his role more toward the end of the season, with him starting the 2016 campaign being utilized more in passing situations and less on first or second downs.
Ahead of the draft, coach Urban Meyer commented on the potential of Jones’ success at the next level, where Meyer noted importance of a coaching staff that establishes a rapport with Jones on and off the field. The stars may have aligned for both the Buffalo Bills and Cardale Jones with this one.
During rookie camp, Bills head coach Rex Ryan called the rookie quarterback and told him to head to the airport — it turned out that Ryan was sending Jones back to Ohio to witness the birth of his second child. Ryan surprised both Jones and fans when he put the quarterback’s personal life ahead of rookie camp, but it’s moves like that that will quickly establish the relationship Jones needs from his coach to be successful.
With the Bills still looking at Tyrod Taylor as the starter and future of the franchise, Jones’ arm strength is still lauded in the pros. With a year of development — and following a year of contract negotiations that have broken any and all salary ceilings -- Jones could find himself in a bigger role while still under a rookie contract.
One of the more shocking developments from the 2016 NFL Draft was the fast that Powell never heard his name called. He put on a brave face on Twitter, sharing inspirational quotes and promises not to give up, all while in the background negotiating with several teams who were interested in the safety.
After toying with several offers, Powell chose to head to Seattle and work for his chance to join the infamous “Legion of Boom”. Even without an opportunity to start right away with the defense, just the ability to learn from players like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will do more for his training than most rookies get to utilize.
Powell will go into a deep backup safety competition, but could land on the roster as a backup as a third safety. In the meantime, Powell — like so many other rookies -- will try his hand on special teams and try to find a niche somewhere on the field to garner playing time come the regular season.
When the Godfather of lineman calls you a steal, people listen. Former Buckeye and NFL player-turned trainer LeCharles Bentley lauded Farris’ ability following the NFL Draft and made note that he could end up being a big steal for the Detroit Lions.
Signed as an undrafted free agent, Bentley likens Farris to one of the best undrafted players in the league -- Jason Peters.
"I'm not saying he's going to be Jason Peters, but he's the type of guy who in 24 months could legitimately be a top-five starting guard in the National Football League," Bentley said, according to MLive.
Farris has played on all sides of the ball since his high school career, and could land at guard for his new team. If he doesn’t earn a starting role early on, he could benefit from a year on the practice squad before having a monumental second season.
There was a lot of skepticism surrounding Marshall's decision to leave Ohio State early and try his hand at the NFL. At the NFL Scouting Combine he gave interviews from the round table vs podium, and they aired his 40-yard dash times after commercial; he was steadfast that declaring for the draft was the best move for him, but he faced the consequences in late-April when he went undrafted.
Marshall’s skill set and build makes him a perfect special teamer. His speed and catching ability could land him a roster spot solely for his contributions to special teams. Not that he’s giving up on the chance to be an offensive weapon for the Jets, but with successful veterans lined up ahead of him, that time is much further in the future.
One thing that does set the youngster apart from his much more experienced teammates — his speed -- which could wind up being a game changer for the Jets offense.
Marshall joins fellow Buckeye Devin Smith in New York (New Jersey), who is still looking to make some kind of impact at the next level following rehab on his knee.