We are just a few weeks away from the regular season kick-off of the 2017 NFL season, and there are quite a few former Ohio State stars looking forward to their professional debut.
The Buckeyes had another impressive draft class, with seven rookies picked in the seven rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, and one other signed as an undrafted free agent — it was almost four, but Dontre Wilson never landed a contract with the Chargers due to medical concerns with his foot. Craig Fada was invited to the Houston Texans minicamp, but didn’t come away with a contract, and the same for wideout Corey Smith who tried out for the Cincinnati Bengals but didn’t sign a deal (h/t Rebecca Toback, CincyJungle).
As they get ready for their first Big Time game against, and with, players they’ve watched and idolized for years, they first need to find their place on a roster, as teams are now reporting for training camp.
The wide receiver was one of the first rookies to report to training camp this fall, with the Cowboys suiting up for the Hall of Fame game this Thursday. The Cowboys will face the Cardinals in Canton, Ohio for the annual event, with Brown expected to see his first bit of playing time at the next level.
Touchdown, Noah Brown. Fantastic catch against double coverage from Chidobe Awuzie and Kavon Frazier. pic.twitter.com/3BwkLlDT6m— David Helman (@HelmanDC) July 31, 2017
At the start of training camp, Conley still needed to sign on the dotted line, but it didn’t take long before the rookie had finalized his first NFL contract with the Oakland Raiders. However, it can’t all be good news, Conley opened camp on the Raiders PUP list.
Originally slated as a guy who could move all over the line, Elflein is staring down the starting center job for the Minnesota Vikings. He’s gotten some reps with the first team early on in camp, and is competing with Nick Easton for the role. If he’s anything like the Buckeye centers to come before him — Nick Mangold and Corey Linsley — Elflein will be the longterm solution for the team at the center position.
After spending most of the offseason and spring on the sidelines, Hooker was excited to get to work for the Colts. Alongside four of his fellow Buckeyes, he was looking to join Tyvis Powell in the defensive backfield and make contributions for the team right away.
That goal was short lived after tweaking his hamstring early-on in training camp. He was placed on the Colts PUP list for a few days, but was removed over the weekend. Hopefully, the injury wasn’t more than a flair-up and Hooker can get back on the field as soon as possible.
Cameron Johnston (UDFA)
The Buckeye punter is still hanging in there at Philadelphia Eagles training camp. The team already has a solid starter in Donnie Jones, but the 37-year old veteran could be hanging up his cleats soon, and if so.... enter Aussie-punter extraordinaire Cam Johnston.
While some aren’t expecting Johnston to make the final 53-man roster, or even make the practice squad, I’m a bit more optimistic. Despite Jones saying he’s got about four more years in the league, they wont necessarily be with the Eagles. And with the organization turning to younger talent at several positions, they’d be smart to keep their next No. 1 connected with the team.
One of the Buckeye rookies expected to make the starting lineup right away, Lattimore is already impressing the New Orleans Saints. With the team quickly filling up with former Scarlet and Gray players, Lattimore joins Vonn Bell on the defensive side of the ball, with the rookie switching his jersey from No. 34 to No. 23 — Lattimore wore No. 2 at Ohio State.
Marshon Lattimore had some good moments in practice again, forcing a fumble on Daniel Lasco, and he had a couple of good plays setting the edge. In some coverages, he was playing a good 9 yards off the receiver, but that didn’t seem to be an issue at all.
There was some concern during camp on Monday, when Lattimore went back to the locker room with the training staff. He did not return to practice, however head coach Sean Payton didn’t mention a specific injury, just that it might’ve been a hydration issue, but he wasn’t sure.
The linebacker is already taking reps with the first team, and despite being the new guy on the block, is already calling out plays when it’s his turn in the middle linebacker rotation. No one from Buckeye Nation should be surprised to hear that McMillan is the likely “Next Man Up” to represent #LBU, but the time he commits off the field to learning the playbook and improving his craft, could make him one of the best to come out of Ohio State.
Raekwon McMillan on adjustment to NFL from college pic.twitter.com/3y90m5GqRw— Chris Perkins (@chrisperk) July 31, 2017
He’s had to make a lot of adjustments, and admits the tempo has increased immensely, but McMillan was always been solid mentally, and that foundation will help him ease into his new role as NFL linebacker.
The Carolina Panthers may have had one of the best draft classes of any team this year. Not only did they snag Ohio State H-back Curtis Samuel, but they also snagged running back Christian McCaffrey to boost their offense. Quarterback Cam Newton will have no shortage of targets this fall, with Samuel lining up predominantly at receiver.
Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring) still being held out of practice.— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP) July 29, 2017
Samuel has been held out of the past few days of practice, but hasn’t been added to the team’s PUP list, yet. With the Panther’s trading or not re-signing both Buckeye receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey “Philly” Brown this offseason, they’ll definitely need Samuel’s versatility to fill some of the offensive holes.