Each and every year, Ohio State hosts its annual Pro Day. The Pro Day provides an opportunity for the Buckeye NFL Draft hopefuls to sell themselves to all of the franchises involved in the draft process through miscellaneous drills and interviews with scouts and team officials. It is one of the last times pre-draft that players get to showcase their physical skills to their potential suitors.
However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio State was forced to cancel its Pro Day this year. Having been slated for March 25, there was just no way a large grouping of people like that would be allowed to take place anytime before the upcoming NFL Draft (which begins this Thursday, April 23).
The school was set to have 16 different players participate in this year’s Pro Day. While many of them at least got the chance to participate in some drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, there were a handful of guys who were banking on this event as one last opportunity to show that they have what it takes to play at the next level. Let’s take a look at a few of the players who, with a good showing at their Pro Day, could have potentially changed their NFL Draft outlook.
Rashod Berry (TE)
Berry was one of the more interesting players on Ohio State’s roster these past few years. Despite being clearly gifted athletically, he never got a real chance to make a significant impact on the field for the Buckeyes. Bouncing back and forth between tight end and defensive end, Berry rarely saw much playing time.
His stint on the defense was brief, playing only 17 total snaps over the course of four games. He wasn’t used all that much more on the offensive side either, catching a total of 17 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns over his five-year career (including one redshirt season). Especially this past season, with guys like Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert garnering most of the snaps at TE, Berry did not get many snaps.
Berry did get a small chance to showcase his abilities earlier in the offseason, playing and starting in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January where he caught two passes for 54 yards. Still, without a full Pro Day combine to show off his full range of athleticism, it will be tough for Berry to get a true shot in the NFL. The physical tools are there, as the tight end showed sturdy hands and pass-blocking abilities when called upon, but GMs and scouts will have very little film to go on.
Robert Landers (DT)
One of the most bubbly personalities on the team, Landers not getting a chance to impress scouts at Ohio State’s Pro Day is upsetting for a number of reasons. Outside of just the opportunity to up his draft stock, the defensive tackle known as “BB” had planned to partner with Nationwide Children's Hospital to raise money with his bench press drill.
Having always been open and outspoken about his own struggles with mental health, Landers was asking fans to pledge money that would be donated for each rep he pushed out during his bench press at the Pro Day. The donations would go towards the On Our Sleeves initiative, a program heavily backed by Ryan Day and his wife Christina that aims to break the stigma of children’s mental health.
Charity work aside, Landers could have definitely impressed scouts with his upbeat and engaging personality, not to mention his skills on the field. The DT was a key cog in the Buckeye defense up the middle, registering 6.5 tackles for loss this past season with 24.5 total tackles for loss in his four years of game action. Regardless of whether or not an NFL team gives him a shot or not, it is definitely not the end of the road for Landers, who will without a doubt find some way to channel his endless energy and positivity.
Branden Bowen (OT)
Bowen was the starting right tackle for Ohio State this past season after missing all of 2018 while recovering from a leg injury sustained against Maryland in 2017. He looked to pick up right where he left off, and was a solid and reliable option for the Buckeyes at one of the most important spots along a sturdy offensive line.
While Bowen himself did not expect to blow anyone away with his Pro Day tests, he did expect to show NFL personnel and scouts how well he is able to move. He wanted to be able to expel any of the fears and concerns those at the next level may have regarding his leg and any lingering effects of his injury and the ensuing surgery.
“That’s the biggest question mark on me — can I stay healthy. I don’t think a lot of people realize my injury was a broken bone, therefore it’s not like an ACL where you’re more at risk of breaking it again and inhibiting my play. It’s showing I’m healthy and can play again,” Bowen told Cleveland.com. If a team decides to take a chance on the big, athletic blocker, he could likely play either tackle or guard in the NFL.
Jashon Cornell (DT/DE)
Cornell is another interesting prospect. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive lineman spent time at both defensive tackle and defensive end, having most recently spent most of his playing time at DT this past season. Cornell had the best year of his career in 2019, and has shown tremendous versatility that he hopes can impress scouts at the next level.
This past season, the fifth-year man played in 13 games for the Buckeyes, finishing with 30 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. While Cornell would have obviously loved to get a chance to interview and workout for the talent evaluators at Pro Day, he was still able to put a good amount on film — at least more-so than any of the guys previously discussed.
Cornell moves well despite his size, and has the added benefit of five years of work under the legendary Larry Johnson. According to Cleveland.com, the COVID-19 pandemic also forced Cornell to cancel scheduled workouts with the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings — who themselves have recently drafted a Buckeye with similar makeup in Jalyn Holmes — but has still be able to maintain contact with teams electronically, as all draft hopefuls must find ways to do in these weird times.