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Ohio State Pro Day: Did the top NFL prospects improve their draft stock?

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All 32 NFL teams were in Columbus to watch some of the Buckeyes’ top prospects.

Of the 18 now-former Ohio State players to participate in this year’s Pro Day workout in Columbus, 11 had already gotten some face time with NFL scouts and coaches by way of the NFL Scouting Combine in early-March.

Several prospects opted out of certain drills at the combine, and Thursday’s event was another opportunity to complete those and further improve their draft stock -- there were also a handful of players participating who didn’t get a Combine invite, and were hoping to garner some attention.

Completing the Combine

Not every Buckeye who was invited to the Combine participated in every event, but those players made sure to fill in their drill results in Columbus on Thursday.

DL Tyquan Lewis missed a good portion of the on-field workout in Indy thanks to a nasty case of the flu, but was finally able to run his 40-yard dash (in the 4.6’s) and complete his broad jump (10’7).

Buckeye Sam Hubbard wasn’t injured, but chose not to run the 40 at the Combine. He had a decent sub-5.0 run in front of scouts at Pro Day, and solid performance during the position drills.

Lots of players forewent the 3-cone drill at Indy, and it wasn’t particularly better for them on their home turf. Jalyn Holmes slipped at least once during the drill, and then went on to complete his broad jump (10+ feet) after skipping that particular drill in Indy.

Three Ohio State players also tried to one-up their Combine performance by re-running the 40-yard dash: Marcus Baugh, Damon Webb, Chris Worley. Their times were pretty consistent with what they ran in Indy, and may have helped their draft stock ever so slightly by shaving off a couple hundredths of a second.

Position drill standouts

Some players didn’t re-do any of their metrics at Ohio State’s Pro Day — for guys like J.T. Barrett, who was already a top performer with a 4.70 40-yard dash time at the Combine, it doesn’t make sense to negate their top score. Barrett did have a good showing in front of scouts during the passing drills, and had help from some former Buckeyes. Cardale Jones served as Barrett’s “center” for the drill, and with few receivers to line up, Brian Hartline was back in the mix.

Linebacker Jerome Baker had a few rough drops early on during the LB position drills, but after a few push-ups (!?) in between sets, he was back in the game and made some tough catches to finish out the afternoon. The Buckeye also spoke to the media after his workout and was one of the most thorough interviews of the day. Even if his on-field work did little to improve his draft stock, I’d imagine that the more he gets in front of teams and talks to them, the more that they’ll make sure that he’s on their draft board in April. (He really reminds me of Joshua Perry, in the best possible ways.)

Similar to Barrett, Denzel Ward ran an impressive 40-yard dash at the Combine, and opted to sit out of those particular drills early on in the afternoon. He showed good footwork and a nose for the ball during the DB drills, and made a couple big one-handed grabs to finish out the day.

There was only one offensive lineman — which seems almost impossible — working out at Ohio State’s Pro Day, Jamarco Jones. (Granted, there would have been two if Billy Price didn’t undergo surgery after the Combine.) He was the opposite of some of his brethren, recording a very not-so-impressive 5.50 40-yard dash in Indy, and decided not to make things any worse on Thursday. Jones showed good explosion during the OL drills and definitely garnered interest from several NFL teams.

Combine snubs

In addition to the 11 Ohio State players who got an invite to this year’s NFL Combine, there were seven draft-eligible Buckeyes who didn’t. Those players finally got their chance to impress scouts at Pro Day.

Some of the surprising omissions from early-March’s Combine were DT Michael Hill, SAF Erick Smith, and DL Tracy Sprinkle. Hill and Sprinkle both had good days, especially during position drills. They weren’t the fastest guys to go through the high knee drills, but did show effort and dominance in the tackling drills.

Some other Buckeyes who had their first opportunity to perform in front of scouts were DB Trevon Forte, WR Elijaah Goins, DL Nick Seme, and TE/FB Zach Turnure. Goins and Turnure provided some able-bodies for Barrett’s QB drills, and Goins specifically had an excellent broad jump. Forte ran a solid 40-yard dash and is built like a defensive back-linebacker hybrid. Seme struggled a bit during the three-cone drill, but showed solid effort — against some of the top DL talent — during his position drills.

NFL sightings

  • New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was in the building, working with the defensive lineman during drills and making notes during the DB drills. He was front and center to watch Sam Hubbard — someone considered a perfect fit for the Pats.
  • The Titans coach was helping to run the linebacker drills — which, given the former position of new Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel, isn’t all that surprising.
  • Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was seen talking to Denzel Ward (and watching the DB drills pretty intently), while the team’s GM (Rick Spielman, the brother of OSU great Chris) was talking to Billy Price. Could Minnesota bring in Price to offset Pat Elflein? I’m sensing a Buckeye reunion sometime soon.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is always at Ohio State’s Pro Day, but he took some time to speak to Jerome Baker, as well as to say “hi” to his mom. (The Steelers picking an Ohio State LB to fill in for Ryan Shazier would be the ultimate power play.)