Since the NFL Draft over the weekend, we’ve talked a lot about the Ohio State players who were selected, the Ohio State players who will eventually be selected, and what it meant to the Ohio State players who have been selected, but we’ve (as you can tell) always approached it from the Ohio State perspective. I mean, that makes sense, we are an Ohio State blog after all.
But today, I wanted to take a look at how each of the 10 OSU draftees are likely to fit into their new homes. So, I got some help from our NFL sister sites and dove into what to expect from the newly minted professional football players.
No. 11 Justin Fields | Chicago Bears
Believe it or not, but the Chicago Bears have been .500 each of the last two years, sporting identical 8-8 records in 2019 and 2020. However, what likely won’t be surprising is that they have been carried by their defense as their offense has been handicapped by a series of quarterbacks who range from underwhelming to down right embarrassing.
So, even though some folks out in the universe want you to believe that there are serious flaws in Fields’ game and/or personality, for the non-idiotic amongst us, the former Buckeye QB is the unequivocal QB2 in this draft class. So, unsurprisingly, Bears fans are excited about having him in the Windy City, which I think is actually pretty important.
Chicago traded up to No. 11 in order to get Fields, which shows how excited they were to land him. However, if one of the teams at the top of the draft — say San Fran or the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets — had rightly taken Fields after so many morons (perhaps even some employed by said teams) had been anonymously knocking him in recent months, I think that there could have been a bit of a backlash from the fanbases. Fortunately for Fields, that did not happen, and he landed in a spot that has been straddling the line of playoff contention in recent years, and just needs a competent quarterback to help them over the hump.
In my chat with old friend Ian Hartitz — PFF’s Lead Fantasy Analyst — on the podcast on Tuesday, he told me that while the Bears don’t have top-line playmakers, they have guys who are more than serviceable and are likely to get a bump from Fields distributing the ball.
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There’s really my only hesitation in looking at how Fields fits with Chicago. The Bears are adamant that recently acquired free-agent quarterback Andy Dalton will open the season as the starter. The thought is to have the Red Rocket serve as a bridge from the garbage that came before to the promising future which Fields provides; think Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.
Here’s the thing, Dalton is no Smith. While you can question and compare their individual skillsets, Smith had been the Chiefs’ starting QB for four years before they drafted Mahomes. So he had a four-season advantage in terms of familiarity and comfortability in the offense. Dalton on the other hand has like a month and a half.
There is little doubt that Fields will eventually be the Bears’ starter (likely at some point in the first half of the 2021 season, imo), but other than that, I think this sets up for the all-time great Buckeye to have a long and successful career with the Monsters of the Midway.
According to Jacob Infante at our Bears sister site, Windy City Gridiron, “Fields is a strong-armed, accurate and athletic quarterback with an incredible collegiate resume and a high ceiling at the next level. Not only is he safer than a prospect like Trey Lance, but he arguably has as much potential as any quarterback in the 2021 class.”
No. 60: Pete Werner | New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans front office loves them some Buckeyes. Currently on their roster they have five Ohio State alums in Malcolm Jenkins, Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas, Nick Vannett, and as of Saturday, Pete Werner.
And while Werner will have plenty of other Buckeyes to help ease his transition to the professional ranks off the field, on it, it appears that he is going to be thrown into the fire as linebacker has been a huge position of need for the Saints.
He will likely be lined up next to All-Pro Demario Davis who has often been left to fend for himself in the middle of the field over the last few years as the only competent ‘backer for the team.
Gregory Layfield from Canal St. Chronicles says, “Werner will likely be asked to contribute immediately to a very thin Saints linebacker unit. Ohio State players have been good picks for the Saints in the past several drafts. The organization and fans hope the Saints have once again found a jewel from the Buckeyes.
Werner hasn’t always been Buckeye Nation’s favorite player, but for me, I attribute that to him being unfairly connected to a certain other recently departed linebacker whose name I will not mentions in these pages. Werner is a super athletic, tough-nosed guy who I think will end up having a really solid NFL career. He might never be the best LB on any team that he’s on, but he will never be the type of guy that hurts your chances to win.
No. 62: Josh Myers | Green Bay Packers
We’ve seen how Ohio State centers can do playing for the Packers. After seven seasons as GB’s starter — including being named a 2020 All-Pro — former Buckeye Corey Linsley departed the Frozen Tundra for more hospitable climates and signed a monster $62.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Charges (still weird to say they’re from LA), making him the highest-paid center in the NFL.
Now it’s time for another Buckeye to step in and take over that spot. However, the Pack might not call on Josh Myers to be a center, at least not right away. As Evan “Tex” Western writes for SB Nation’s Packers site, “While Myers will have a chance to compete for a starting job on day one, the Packers see him as a player who can contribute at any position on the interior of the offensive line ... His athleticism surely helps give him some of that flexibility, and his experience in a zone running scheme just as surely indicates a good fit in Green Bay.”
Whether or not Myers becomes the team’s No. 1 center on Day 1 (Linsley inherited the spot in 2014 after JC Tretter got hurt btw) or he serves as a Swiss Army knife on the line, it feels like who Myers is, and what he does, is a good fit in Wisconsin, whether he’s snapping to Aaron Rodgers or not.
No. 86: Wyatt Davis | Minnesota Vikings
In his final season in Columbus, Wyatt Davis had to deal with a knee injury that he sustained against Indiana in the team’s fourth game of the season. That hampered him throughout the duration of the abbreviated schedule, so he wasn’t ever able to be as dominant as he had been the year before, but nonetheless, he became a unanimous All-American and the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year.
So, as he fell to the mid-third round, the Vikings had to be salivating about the opportunity to snatch him up. Christopher Gates from Daily Norseman said, “Getting Davis as late in the third round as the Vikings did appears to be an outright theft by Rick Spielman and company,” and yes, that is Chris Spielman’s brother.
But, it’s more than the loose Ohio State connection that is getting the Vikes’ front office excited about having Davis on the roster. Gates also said, “I would be surprised if Davis wasn’t a factor on the offensive line right away for this team. Add Davis to the selection of Christian Darrisaw, and the Vikings may have just set the left side of their offensive line for the long term.”
It’s not every day that an NFL team can pick up an immediate offensive line starter at that point in the draft, but if anybody can make it happen, it’s Davis.
No. 88: Trey Sermon | San Francisco 49ers
As soon as I saw this pick, I thought it was the absolute perfect opportunity for Trey Sermon to succeed in the league.
Trey proved in his final two full games that Trey has the power and vision to be a valuable addition to the Niners who are going to look to line up and run it straight at teams. This feels like a really good landing spot for Sermon.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) May 1, 2021
Niners’ coach Kyle Shanahan is going to run the ball, and he is going to run it a lot. But the thing is, he is going to employ a committee out of the backfield, so it is unlikely that Sermon will immediately become a marquee back. However, Shanahan’s system does need backs who are tough, both as runners and blockers, and if we learned anything in Sermon’s historic two-game run at the end of the 2020 season, he is nothing if not willing and able to take on contact.
According to Kyle Posey at Niners Nation, “The Niners needed a running back who could block. If that’s Sermon, he’s great value here. Shanahan must view him as the running back of the future if he traded up into the third round to select Sermon.”
So often we hear about how running backs are replaceable in the NFL, and they don’t come with enough value to waste an early round pick on. Well, clearly the 49ers disagree, because not only did they draft Sermon in the third round, but they willingly traded up to ensure that they got him. So, while Sermon will likely never be the sole runner out of San Fran’s backfield, he very likely could be the featured back in an oft-used stable.
Either way, Sermon has found a home in a scheme that does what he is best at and is going to use him as much as — if not more than — any other team in the league.
No. 105: Baron Browning | Denver Broncos
If you watch the video from yesterday’s article in which the Broncos call to tell Baron Browning that they had selected him, you can tell how excited the team’s GM George Paton and head coach Vic Fangio were to have been able to pick him up with the last pick of the third round.
We all know how special of a talent Baron Browning is, his only downfall during his time in Columbus was his ability to stay on the field. As I said on Day 2 of the draft, if he can stay healthy, he’s going to be a beast in the league.
And the final pick of the third round sees Baron Browning selected by the Denver Broncos.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) May 1, 2021
If he can stay healthy, I think he is going to have a really long and impressive NFL career. The dude is athletic, smart, and hungry.
While Browning isn’t currently slated to slide directly into a starting spot, that will give him time to acclimate to the pro game. The fact that Browning moved around to multiple LB spots during his career with the Buckeyes is another factor that made Broncos brass excited to make the pick.
In an article at Mile High Report this weekend, Eli Nicholson said, “[Paton] mentioned that the team would be open to having Browning in multiple spots, while head coach [Fangio] admitted that he wasn’t certain about Browning’s precise role yet, but he was excited to have him on the team.”
Browning is going to have the opportunity to learn behind experienced linebackers Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell, and whatever role and position he ends up filling for Denver, you know that he’s going to bring his trademark intensity and athleticism to it.
No. 132: Tommy Togiai | Cleveland Browns
In 2020, Tommy Togiai and Haskell Garrett both had break out seasons on the interior of Ohio State’s defensive line. Garrett chose to come back for one more collegiate season in order to increase his draft stock, while Togiai decided that it was time for him to make the jump.
I feel very confident in saying that Togiai returned for another season that he would have been taken higher than the 132nd pick, but, he ended up in a really good spot, and one where he could absolutely flourish in the future.
Another Buckeye that is going to end up being a HUGE steal. Great pick up for the Brownies in Round 4. https://t.co/HOzJw7gWmF— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) May 1, 2021
The Browns are making a name for themselves with a nasty defensive front, especially after some impressive offseason acquisitions. However, they don’t have a ton of guys that they can count on at defensive tackle.
As Thomas Moore wrote for Dawgs by Nature, “The Browns definitely need depth at the defensive tackle position behind projected starters Malik Jackson and Andrew Billings. Sheldon Day and Jordan Elliott are the only other players currently on the roster at the position, so Togiai would appear to have an opportunity to show he is worthy of a roster spot.”
If there is anything that Ohio State fans know about Togiai, it’s that all he needs is a chance, and he is going to grab it, bench press it, and make it look absolutely foolish. He is a tough, physical player and will fit in very well with both the blue-collar nature of the team and their fanbase.
No. 145: Luke Farrell | Jacksonville Jaguars
I’ve got to admit, I did not see this selection coming. However, if there is anyone who knows what Luke Farrell can do if given the opportunity, it’s Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. Even though the Buckeyes have rarely taken advantage of their talented tight ends, dating all the way back to the John Cooper days, we’ve seen guys like Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman excel in once they get to the league.
We know that Farrell is a great blocking tight end, but he is also an under-appreciated athlete at the position, and with a rookie likely taking the reins at quarterback, it doesn’t hurt to have talented tight ends available to be Trevor Lawrence’s safety outlets.
The Jags currently don’t have any TEs that are going to get you super excited (unless the possibility of Meyer reuniting with Tim Tebow gets you amped up), so Farrell has the opportunity to make a mark.
Over at Big Cat Country, Ryan O’Bleness wrote, “He is a big-bodied tight end, who is a solid blocker and a reliable pass catcher (when given the opportunity). He isn’t going to burn anybody with speed, and may not make a huge impact immediately, but can earn a role with the team in a tight ends room that needs help.”
Clearly Farrell didn’t have a ton of opportunities to catch the ball in college, so let’s see if the coach who originally recruited him changes that in the NFL.
No. 160: Shaun Wade | Baltimore Ravens
As I’ve said before, I imagine that the NFL Draft weekend had to be a bit bittersweet for Shaun Wade. On one hand, it represents the realization of a nearly life-long dream. On the other, it serves as a reminder of all of the money that he left on the table by returning for the 2020 season.
Sad to see Shaun fall this far after coming back last fall. But there’s no doubt that Shaun is talented and he’s landing at one of the best fits, imo. The Ravens are going to run a ton of nickel, so he’s gonna have chances to get on the field.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) May 1, 2021
I’m not going to belabor the difficulties that Wade faced in his move to an outside corner last fall, 1) because I don’t want to be mean, 2) we learned after the season that he had been dealing with turf-toe for most of the campaign, and most importantly 3) he’s not going to be playing outside corner in Baltimore.
The Ravens are known for running as much nickel as anyone else in the NFL, and Wade projects to be a slot corner/nickel corner/cover safety at the next level; a position that Baltimore has had some issues with in recent years.
“The Ravens are getting tremendous value with Wade this late in the draft because in addition to playing in the slot at a high level, he can also play some safety as well matching up on wide receivers and tight ends,” wrote Joshua Reed at Baltimore Beatdown. “With current starting nickel, Tavon Young, coming off the third season ending injury of his career and second in consecutive seasons, Wade will provide injury insurance, quality depth and a possible succession plan at the position.
I am supremely confident in Wade’s ability to be a physical, imposing presence on a Raven’s defense known for its toughness. The one area where you might be concerned about his adjustment to the NFL is his speed. Though he ran a 4.43 at his pro day (even though he wasn’t back to being 100% healthy yet), his biggest issue last season was being able to keep up with the elite talent that he was tasked with covering; unfortunately, it got ugly early and often.
As NFL offenses evolve, we are seeing more and more top-line playmakers moving to the slot. Whether or not Wade is able to stick with those guys will determine if he is ever able to make it back to the stud status that he enjoyed following the 2019 campaign.
No. 239: Jonathon Cooper | Denver Broncos
For the second time in this year’s NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos called the name of an Ohio State Buckeye. This time, it was with their second of three seventh round picks as they selected Jonathon Cooper.
Full disclosure: Coop was one of my favorite players on the 2020 team. While I know that he isn’t nearly as talented as many recent defensive ends to come out of Columbus, his journey, intelligence, and fight were incredibly endearing during over his career.
Mile High Reports’ Tim Lynch sees the same thing from Cooper, “He’s the type of guy that will outwork you on the field and figures to be a great depth addition to an already stack Denver defensive roster.”
You don’t really expect a seventh round pick to end up competing for a starting role right out of the gate, but it does look like there is an opportunity for him to have an impact, and it’s one that should be very familiar for a guy who played for both Urban Meyer and Ryan Day; on special teams.
Scotty Payne, also writing for MHR, said, “He looks like a good special teams addition with potential to work on his craft to play outside linebacker under Vic Fangio.”