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Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore projected in 1st round of NFL mock draft

The two stars of the Buckeyes’ secondary are rated highly across the board heading into the NFL.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State. 12. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State”

- Dan Kadar, SB Nation

There are a limitless amount of mock drafts already out for the 2017 NFL draft, and rightly so with the draft only a couple of months away. The latest version from SB Nation is high on Ohio State and its players in the pool (as are countless others). And for good reason. Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore combined to terrorize opposing quarterbacks all season long as they helped anchor one of the best secondaries in the country. In this specific mock draft, Dan Kadar has Hooker being taken seventh overall to the Chargers (reuniting with former Buckeye Joey Bosa) and Lattimore being taken 12th to the Cleveland Browns.

That was just the first round, though. A handful of Buckeyes were taken in the second round including Raekwon McMillan (34th overall, to the San Fransisco 49ers), Gareon Conley (37th overall, to the Los Angeles Rams), and Pat Elflein (55th overall, to the New York Giants). Curtis Samuel rounded things out in the third round, taken 81st overall by the Washington Redskins. All together, it should be yet another successful draft class for Ohio State and its players.

“[Big Ten running back rankings] Runners-up: Ohio State and Minnesota”

- Austin Ward, ESPN

The folks over at ESPN are going through each position group and ranking the best of the best from the Big Ten conference. For running back, it was no surprise to see Penn State and Northwestern at the top. With Saquon Barkley and Justin Jackson returning for the Nittany Lions and Wildcats, respectively, they should continue to have major success as the season rolls around. The two rushers were the most productive in the Big Ten last season, so they’ve certainly earned their right to the top spots. As for Ohio State, they come up in the runners up category, along with Minnesota.

Mike Weber became just the third freshman in Ohio State history to rush for over 1,000 yards and did so with somewhat of a bum shoulder for the latter part of the season. With Curtis Samuel gone, it should open the door for a new playmaker in the backfield alongside Weber, and Demario McCall might have his eye on taking on some increased responsibilities within the offense.

“[Big Ten wide receiver/tight end rankings] Teams that need to step it up: Ohio State and Iowa”

- Brian Bennett, ESPN

While Ohio State certainly ranked highly in the running backs category (and for good reason), the Buckeyes fall way short when it comes to wide receivers and tight ends. Taking the top spot was again Penn State, with only one of their talented wide receivers heading to the NFL and tight end Mike Gesicki returning. Ohio State, however, fell in the lowest category for this position ranking, but when a team that struggled to find receivers deep last season loses its top three receiving threats to the NFL draft (Noah Brown, Curtis Samuel, and Dontre Wilson) you have to be at least a little worried. It was well noted during National Signing Day this year that the Buckeyes had been looking to lock in bigger bodies at the receiver position and we’ll see if it pays off.

In the meantime, players like Binjimen Victor, K.J. Hill, and Terry McLaurin all showed plenty of potential last season in short bursts. Now they’ll need to step up in a big way if the Buckeyes are going to be successful in the passing game. Also look for names like Alex Mack, who was raved about all offseason in 2016, to step up once the season starts for Ohio State. By the time the opener against Indiana rolls around, the Buckeyes will need to be ready.

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