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Marshon Lattimore’s return from injury concerns highlights Ohio State’s 2017 Pro Day

Lots of big NFL names filled the WHAC looking for future stars.

Thirteen Buckeyes showed off their skills for one last workout in front of NFL scouts Thursday, at Ohio State’s 2017 Pro Day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. This year’s event was attended by coaches and personnel from all 32 NFL teams, along with a slew of media and family members to help crowd the facility.

Some of the NFL head coaches in attendance included Bill Belichick (Patriots), Todd Bowles (Jets), Jim Caldwell (Lions), John Harbaugh (Ravens), Hue Jackson (Browns), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Mike Mularkey (Titans), Sean Payton (Saints), and Mike Tomlin (Steelers). There were also seven general managers there, including Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and Lions GM Bob Quinn.

2017 prospects

There were six Ohio State players who didn't earn invites to the NFL Combine, and are hoping their workout at pro day was enough to stick out, including Jarrod Barnes (SAF), Tyler Durbin (K), Craig Fada (LB), Corey Smith (WR) and Dontre Wilson (WR).

This was a particularly important day for wideouts Smith and Wilson. Both contributed to the Buckeye offense over the past few seasons, but injuries and inconsistencies kept them out of the limelight. They’re both speedy receivers, with Smith excelling at route-running and Wilson being a possible special teams contributor, but teams could be hesitant about their durability at the next level.

Receiver Corey Smith had a good showing, with several quick grabs and good footwork during the cone drills. His route-running ability was on full display as he worked with Tiffin quarterback Antonio Pipkin — the only non-Buckeye at Pro Day — for the first time. Dontre Wilson had the most to prove after being omitted from both the Senior Bowl and combine, and tweeting about it, but looked great during the workout. He ran two solid 40-yard dashes — in his boxers — and then stood out during the position drills with a sliding catch and a flying one-handed grab in the endzone.

With such a strong and deep class of defensive backs and safeties heading into the draft, Buckeye Jarrod Barnes might have a hard time standing out from the competition. He looked the part on Thursday, though, cheering on his teammates and showing leadership for all positions in between drills. He had every right to be in a good mood after a solid performance that could at least put in him on some of the scouts’ radars.

Linebacker Craig Fada is another Buckeye hoping for a chance to play at the next level. He had a few missteps during the drills, resulting in a couple of slips around the cones, but all-in-all had a good day. He was quick off the ground during mat drills and had solid hip rotation during position drills. He’s grown his hair out and looked very familiar to Joey Bosa at last year’s event — maybe that’ll help. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Buckeye kicker whose name reminded people of Fight Club, and the guy Urban Meyer could never quite remember, Tyler Durbin got in some kicks Thursday in front of scouts. During the entire 2016 season, Durbin missed only two point after attempts (of 65) and was 100% on field goal attempts until the last game of the season. His time at Ohio State ended with less fanfare than it started, having missed two of three field goals against Michigan and then both attempts against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

Combine attendees

There were eight Buckeye representatives last month in Indianapolis, competing among the nation’s top 300 draft prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine. Noah Brown and Malik Hooker were the only two from Ohio State not to run the 40-yard dash, but Brown finally laced up for the drill at Pro Day, and was the only combine attendee to participate in the run.

In addition to Brown, Curtis Samuel completed in the wide out drills again — having gone through them once at the combine. It was a good gauge of talent, with the receivers taking passes from a quarterback they aren’t familiar with, but both showed good hands and big speed. It’ll give scouts a better insight into the receivers’ talent specifically instead of an established chemistry with their college quarterback.

Some of the biggest names this draft cycle are Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore, who both sit at the top of a very deep secondary class. Both participated in position drills — with some support from Hooker on the sideline -- and continued to look like first round talent.

Lattimore being able to perform was a huge deal since he injured himself during the workout drills at the Combine and wasn’t able to complete the event. He looked healthy Thursday, with a strong burst off the line and no lingering issues. Lattimore might be one of the busier Buckeyes, having overheard that he’s met with 5-6 teams privately within just 4-5 days — that’s a lot of flying.

Another busy Buckeye and the only offensive lineman at Pro Day was Pat Elflein. He looked strong during position drills, and seemed to take direction well from the coaches leading the event. Elflein has said he can play anywhere on the line after his successful year as a center, and his versatility will be a big selling point for teams who often have to stack backups due to injury.

Malik Hooker is still recovering from surgery, and was forced to miss yet another opportunity to do some drills in front of scouts. Despite not working out at the NFL Combine or Pro Day, Hooker is still a top-tier draft prospect, and with news that he is expecting to be ready for rookie mini-camps, NFL teams shouldn’t be too hesitant to take him in an early round. The Buckeye’s head-to-toe Michael Jordan look makes a lot more sense after he announced he signed a deal with the Jumpman brand.

A leader on and off the field, Raekwon McMillan participated in position drills one more time in front of scouts. The linebacker had a few missed catches during the pass-drop and hip-rotation drill, but showed aggressiveness right away and didn’t turn his back to the ball.

NFL sightings

  • There were several scouts paying attention to center Pat Elflein’s position drills, including a Jets coach who walked him through it and a Dolphins scout watching closely.
  • Marshon Lattimore has interest from several teams, with multiple scouts asking to meet the Buckeye after the event to talk in private.
  • Malik Hooker spent a decent amount of time talking to a Seahawks scout as he sat on the sideline watching.
  • Urban Meyer and Bill Belichick spent a few minutes at the beginning of the day chatting during the 40-yard dashes.
  • Former Buckeye wideout Brian Hartline was in attendance, decked out in Ohio State from head to toe.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles were watching Dontre Wilson’s drills closely.

Ohio State Pro Day Participants 2017

Player Pos Ht Wt Combine Attendee 40-yard dash time
Player Pos Ht Wt Combine Attendee 40-yard dash time
Jarrod Barnes SAF 6'1 200 No -
Noah Brown WR 6'2 222 Yes DNR
Gareon Conley CB 6'0 195 Yes 4.44
Tyler Durbin K 6'3 210 No -
Pat Elflein OL 6'3 303 Yes 5.32
Craig Fada LB 6'1 225 No -
Malik Hooker SAF 6'1 206 Yes DNR
Cameron Johnston P 5'11 194 Yes 4.92
Marshon Lattimore CB 6'0 193 Yes 4.36
Raekwon McMillan LB 6'2 240 Yes 4.61
Curtis Samuel WR/HB 5'11 196 Yes 4.31
Corey Smith WR 6'1 190 No -
Dontre Wilson WR 5'10 195 No -