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Several former Ohio State stars facing make-or-break NFL seasons

Quite a few former Ohio State standouts could be on their way out of the pros.

Doran Grant
Reinhold Matay

Every player in the NFL has to come to grips with their football mortality at some point.

Former Ohio State Buckeyes are no different.

The Scarlet and Gray’s presence in the pros has never been greater, but that doesn’t mean they’re meant to last. According to The Wall Street Journal, the average length of an NFL career is now less than three years.

With more than a handful of OSU alumni having reached a career crossroads, it might not be long before their time in the league is over.

Is it curtains for these former Buckeyes? Let’s take a look.

Tyvis Powell

An undrafted free agent in 2015, Tyvis Powell has been with three teams as a pro.

Powell’s only ever made one official 53-man roster and is still in search of a long-term home in the NFL. While it’s taken the ball-hawking safety some time to adjust, it seems like his patience is finally paying off.

He’s enjoying a solid training camp with the Indianapolis Colts and has been making plays at both safety and cornerback.

Should Powell make the final cut, he’ll join former OSU standouts Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, Jack Mewhort, and rookie Malik Hooker.

And who wouldn’t love to see that? You go, Tyvis.

Doran Grant

He might’ve been selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but Doran Grant hasn’t come close to meeting those expectations.

Like Powell, Grant has had a difficult time transitioning to the next level and has made one lone final roster. He bounced around a couple practice squads before landing with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 24-year-old cornerback has turned heads in training camp, though, and has noticeably improved in coverage.

Grant needs to consistently prove himself as a reliable cover man if he wants to continue his NFL career.

Michael Bennett

If you thought Michael Bennett was going be a star in the pros, you’re not alone.

Bennett was a dominant force in the trenches for the Buckeyes and has looked anything but in the league.

He probably won’t ever duplicate his collegiate production. His smaller size and lack of a three-down skillset make him an ideal career backup . Considering the depth of the Jaguars defensive line, Bennett should fit in nicely behind Malik Jackson and Sheldon Day.

I’m not sure how much longer he has left in the NFL. Although Bennett has reportedly been impressive in training camp, he’ll really have to battle every year to make an active roster.

No player can sustain that.

Jeff Heuerman

Denver Broncos President of Football Operations and general manager John Elway said it best when describing how important this year is to Jeff Heuerman.

“This is the year,” Elway said via Broncos PR. “Jeff had a good year. We’re waiting for him to take that big step because we drafted him third round a couple years ago, and obviously he tore the ACL in minicamp the first year. We’re looking at this year as Jeff’s coming out year. Like I said, he had a good spring. Hopefully he makes that big jump.”

The ACL injury the former Buckeye tight end was dealt with as a rookie clearly set him back, but it sounds like he’s turning a corner.

Heuerman was a quietly athletic, reliable pass-catcher at OSU and it’ll take more of the same if he is to remain a Bronco, let alone a pro football player.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Jalin Marshall

Coming off a mediocre rookie campaign, Jalin Marshall was already was on thin ice with the New York Jets.

A four-game suspension for PED use to start the 2017 season made things even worse.

Marshall, who went undrafted, showed flashes in Year 1 for the Jets. As the team’s fourth wideout in rotation and return specialist, he compiled 748 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.

New York is longing for guys to step up at receiver, so it’s entirely possible for Marshall to become a legit contributor on a talent-stricken offense.

But I can say with full confidence that he would’ve been cut had the Jets’ top wideout Quincy Enunwa not suffered a season-ending neck injury this week.

What a difference another year in school could’ve made.

Curtis Grant

Remember this guy?

An unsung leader of OSU’s national championship run in 2015, Curtis Grant has yet to establish any footing in the NFL. He’s been with five different teams and is now a member of the New York Giants, hoping to appear in his first ever regular season game in 2017.

Grant is a linebacker by trade, but his only path to making the Giants active roster is through special teams.