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Breaking down Ohio State’s NFL Draft prospects in one play

Why watch hours of film when you can watch 30 seconds?

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Kelly wrote a cool article earlier this week at The Ringer where he broke down some of the NFL Draft’s marquee prospects in one single play. Scouts and analysts spend months reviewing all sorts of game film on prospects of all types, but why not try to sum up each prospect’s best traits in one play?

Let’s take a look at the plays that help best define Ohio State’s seven potential draftees.

Marshon Lattimore

Strengths: Freak athlete, ball skills, recovery speed.

Weaknesses: Durability, experience.

Play: It took Lattimore a season or two to work his way into the starting lineup, but it was clear he belonged from the second he stepped on the field. He consistently locked up whoever he lined up against and made plenty of flash plays throughout the season. In the below clip, Baker Mayfield was able to escape from Nick Bosa for a fleeting moment, but his downfield pass was snatched away. Lattimore demonstrates his elite ability to mirror a receiver, as well as the explosiveness and ball skills to make a play. His run after the catch is just a glimpse into the type of athleticism he brings to the table:

Malik Hooker

Strengths: Length, ball skills, play recognition.

Weaknesses: Experience, at times an inconsistent tackler.

Play: Hooker made plays from the spring game up until the Orange Bowl. Still, it was obvious that we were watching the second-coming of Ed Reed fairly early on in the season. Hooker’s ability to survey the offense from the middle of the field, before breaking on and ultimately intercepting a pass towards the sideline, was unrivaled in college football. His next-level ball skills were sure fun to watch as well:

Gareon Conley

Strengths: Length, technique, experience.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent tackler, at times struggled against quicker receivers.

Play: Conley’s impeccable technique and reserved style of play hasn’t earned him the same lofty draft expectations as Lattimore and Hooker, but he’s still a long-athletic corner that stands six-feet tall and runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. Conley proved over and over again that he’s more than capable of locking up any receiver in press man. Unfortunately, his interception in the below clip was waved off, but his great pattern-matching skills and ability to make a play on the ball were on full display:

Curtis Samuel

Strengths: Speed, elusiveness, hands.

Weaknesses: Route running, size, experience as receiver.

Play: Samuel is neither a running back or a wide receiver: he’s a playmaker. His breathtaking speed and agility were deployed all over the field last fall. Samuel is just as capable of taking a handoff up the middle as he is snagging a deep post down the field. Of course, his true skill is the ability to make defenders miss, something that was fully on display on Ohio State’s biggest play of the season:

Raekwon McMillan

Strengths: Run defense, strength, tackling ability, leader.

Weaknesses: Experience covering in space.

Play: McMillan somehow managed to exceed his sky-high expectations at Ohio State. A three-year starter, his ability to hold down the middle of the defense was unparalleled. McMillan’s finest hour came against Michigan, when he tied a career-high with 16 tackles. As the below clip shows, his ability to quickly decipher plays, shed blocks, and make tackles should help him enjoy a long career in the NFL:

Pat Elflein

Strengths: Versatility, leader, consistency.

Weaknesses: At times struggled against quicker defenders.

Play: Elflein went from an All-American guard to an All-American center in less than 12 months. The team captain consistently held down the interior of the Buckeyes’ line, but he proved to be capable of so much more. Elflein provided the type of versatility that offensive line coaches dream of. The below play illustrates this, as pulling centers are very rare in football — not because the play design is poor, but because it’s hard to find a center capable of getting to the outside and blocking in space like Elflein can:

Noah Brown

Strengths: Size, hands, red-zone ability, blocking.

Weaknesses: Speed, route running, experience.

Play: Yes, Brown absolutely demolished Oklahoma and his four-touchdown night will be his lasting reputation for most Buckeyes’ fans. With that said, Brown made a living taking off linebackers’ heads from the second he came on campus. The idea that Ohio State requires its wide receivers to block well has become a bit of a punchline considering their lack of success last season, but this quality was not lost on Brown. In the below clip, he takes out not one, but two Wildcats on J.T. Barrett’s game-clinching run against Northwestern this season: