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Path to the Draft: Shaun Wade

What the analysts, draft experts and NFL team beat writers are saying about the former Ohio State cornerback

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft season is always an exciting time for Ohio State. More often than not, a Buckeye will hear their name called on day one. Hell, we usually hear a Buckeye’s name called in the first ten minutes (taking commercials into consideration). In 2016, we saw Joey Bosa get picked No. 3 overall, followed by Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4. In 2017, Marshon Lattimore went eleventh overall and then Denzel Ward was picked No. 4 overall the following year. In 2019, Nick Bosa was the second overall pick, and in 2020, Chase Young kept the No. 2 trend going followed by Jeff Okudah at No. 3. Ohio State is called an “NFL Pipeline” for a reason, and this year’s draft class will be no exception.

It’s hard to keep up with all of the draft mocks, rumors and predictions surrounding the Buckeyes’ draftees (because, again, there’s a lot of them), so in our new series Path to the Draft, we’ll tell you where each player is projected to land, what the experts, scouts and teams are saying, how they’ll fit into certain schemes and everything else worth knowing about his, well, path to the draft.

Next up: Shaun Wade

You know it. I know it. Everyone knows that Shaun Wade did not meet the high expectations set for his 2020 season at Ohio State. It’s not all his fault, though. He was moved from his previous position at slot corner to the outside, and while he had a decent season, he wasn’t quite able to keep up with the Devonta Smith’s of the world. Still, Wade recorded 34 total tackles, two interceptions and one touchdown last season, earning him first-team All-Big Ten accolades. The year before that, he racked up 25 total tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, one interception and eight pass breakups.

Wade could have been a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had he decided to declare at the end of the 2019 season. Now, most mock drafts have him as a late second to early third-rounder in the 2021 NFL Draft. While it may not be the way we all thought Wade’s NFL career would kick off, there’s no doubt that the former Buckeye cornerback has all the ability to make an impact in the league.

Let’s take a look at what some of the experts have to say about Wade, where they think he’ll end up and when he’ll be taken off the board.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein didn’t have many good things to say about Wade in a recent appearance on NFL Network, saying he thinks Wade has been “built on name more than game up to this point,” before adding a list of things that need to happen for Wade to boost scouts’ interest.

“What needs to happen for Shaun Wade is he needs to run fast, he needs to get on the scale and look pretty, have good height, weight, length, speed, measurables, and he needs to refocus everything off the tape and back on the traits. He needs to get people excited about his potential physically and have teams saying, ‘Guys don’t run like this very often. We can coach him up.’ Because right now, he needs to have that stock rehabilitated.”

All of which he will be able to showcase at Ohio State’s pro day on March 30.

Additionally, ESPN’s Mel Kiper said he sees Wade as a second or third-rounder, and that teams would be willing to use him in the slot where he excels.

“In terms of Wade, Wade just didn’t have the cover skills this year playing outside that he did when he was in the slot. I think he could end up being an inside safety type or a slot corner where he felt more comfortable rather than being out on an island. So he’s going to be an interesting guy. I think he would have been a first-round pick had he played up to the level you expected or certainly as he did in 2019 when he was playing in the slot. So to me, he’s a second- or third-round pick now.”

And fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Wade’s 2020 performance proved he is a one-position player at the next level, and that he’s “probably a second-round pick when it’s said and done.” (Which isn’t too bad after reading McShay’s critique)

“I think he proved he belongs inside. He’s a nickel corner. He can play a little free safety. He can move around. He’s physical, He’s tough. He can tackle in the open field really well. We saw that last night. But he is not cut out, at least at this point, to be a perimeter, cover corner that takes away your No. 1 wide receiver. He’s just not. We’ve seen it all year. It’s too bad to see. Everyone expected it because you watch (Jeff Okudah) go to the NFL Draft and he was kind of waiting his turn. And everyone expected he’s the next guy up, the five-star recruit. And he just hasn’t been....He can play on special teams. I think he’s a day-two pick.

Below is the list of some of the teams most likely to choose Wade, per mock drafts.

Jacksonville Jaguars

In one of NFL.com’s latest mock drafts, the Jacksonville native is slotted at No. 65 overall (3rd round) to Urban Meyer’s Jaguars. Out of the Jaguars’ 12 interceptions last season, the cornerbacks combined for only three.

New York Giants

According to Chris Plufm of SB Nation’s New York Giants site Big Blue View, the Giantshave questions in need of answers” when it comes to the cornerback position. Plufm gave Wade a grade of 7.0, meaning “this prospect has the potential to be a reliable contributor at the NFL level, but will need to transition to a new position and has some schematic limitations.”

“Shaun Wade projects best as a nickel back in a zone defense at the NFL level. Whether a defense calls Wade a nickel corner or a nickel safety will largely depend on their individual scheme and terminology. However, he has a number of traits which translate well to a safety (or safety-like) role at the NFL level. First among these are his competitive toughness and physicality. Wade is a willing run defender, unafraid of contact, and a reliable tackler in space or at the line of scrimmage. Likewise, he has good awareness and a quick trigger when there’s a play to be made in his one of responsibility.”

Philadelphia Eagles

Jack Despeaux of Sports Illustrated has Wade going No. 21 in the third round to the Eagles, comparing him to none other than former Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins.

“With a move to the boundary this past season, Wade struggled and hence, his draft stock dipped. It wasn’t too long ago that Wade was widely considered a potential first round pick. A top cornerback prospect on the inside, he could even project to be a safety at the next level. Forgive the Ohio State and Philadelphia comparison but Wade plays a lot like Malcolm Jenkins and could fill a similar role as Jenkins in the Eagles’ secondary. He can play multiple spots on defense, just not on the perimeter.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wade is projected to be picked up by the Bucs with the No. 95 overall pick according to Walter Football Camp’s mock draft.