Ohio State held its 2022 Pro Day on Wednesday, and despite combine-type events being accurately described as the underwear Olympics, this was an important football experience for the 10 players participating (maybe even 11, if NFL teams wanted to get an early look at C.J. Stroud). Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson had very little to prove, but were able to work out – more so than simply running a few gauntlet drills – in front of NFL personnel, with all eyes focused on them.
Guys like Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere were given an opportunity to improve their draft stock, and Master Teague, Antwuan Jackson, and others set out to prove that they deserve a shot in the NFL. Jeremy Ruckert sat this one out due to injury, but old friend and Buckeye legend Cardale Jones also participated, in case anybody needs a CFP-winning quarterback or a football thrown through drywall... because 12 Gauge still has the howitzer.
Over 100 staff members from all 32 NFL teams were present for OSU’s Pro Day, showing a certain level of admiration and respect for what the program has done over the last few decades. It also goes to show how highly touted certain Buckeyes are, and have been, going into recent drafts. Lovie Smith, head coach of the Houston Texans, was in attendance, sparking the idea (albeit far-fetched) that a Buckeye WR could be in play at pick #3. The Texans have much bigger needs, but thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade, they also have plenty of draft capital to burn. If they feel like Wilson or Olave is one of the most talented players in the draft, why not spend their found money? Houston also has the 13th pick, which is a much more likely scenario. Ohio State’s own Mike Vrabel and the Washington Commanders’ Ron Rivera were the other head coaches in attendance.
Results were mixed, as one would expect, with Teague impressing the most among those who did athletic drills. Olave, Wilson, and Stroud appeared as if they have been practicing together daily since the Rose Bowl, and there were some cool teaching moments when Vrabel got involved with the linemen. After all was said and done (Wednesday night), Ryan Day tweeted out many of the results and added a personal message for each player. He certainly didn’t have to. Those guys are hopefully on their way to leaving Columbus and having successful NFL careers, and Day has a different roster and a new season to worry about. But his desire and willingness to show appreciation for each player one more time – along with his handling of the recent Harry Miller situation and so much more – is yet another reason why he is the guy Ohio State fans should want in Columbus for a very long time.
Chris Olave/Garrett Wilson
Olave and Wilson had pretty much solidified their draft statuses earlier this month at the NFL Combine. Both wide receivers ran sub-4.4 forty times and performed well in pass-catching drills while in Indianapolis, so Wednesday’s event was a chance for them to show off in front of 100+ NFL staff members — which is exactly what they did. Their well-established rapport with Stroud allowed them to showcase crisp route running and elite downfield ball-tracking skills. They did not participate in the athletic testing. Nor did they need to.
.@MasterTeagueIII, your strength and humility are sure to bring you success at the next level! A hard-nose runner with serious top-end speed, I can’t wait to hear NFL fans chant TEAGUEEEE! #DevelopedHere #Fight pic.twitter.com/OlF5bTUf8b— Ryan Day (@ryandaytime) March 23, 2022
Teague easily stood out amongst those who did test. He registered a 10’11” broad jump, which would have been a running back-best mark in Indy, to go with a 36” vertical and 27 reps on the bench. More impressively, Teague clocked in with a 4.44 forty-yard dash, showcasing speed not always on display during his time as a Buckeye. Teague still has his weaknesses and is a guy who, for a variety of reasons, could not hold down a starting spot at OSU. But his leadership, team-first mentality, and elite athleticism could (and should) force NFL teams to pay attention.
Thayer Munford/Nicholas Petit-Frere
Munford and NPF also participated in the larger NFL Combine, so they opted out of certain tests and/or drills on Wednesday. In my personal (unqualified and unsolicited) opinion, I think the athletic testing has potential to raise a red flag or two for offensive linemen, but game-tape is a better, more accurate reflection of how they could perform at the next level. Neither big man broke the five-second barrier with their forty, and Munford’s 22 rep output on the bench was slightly underwhelming, but he did clock above-average 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle times, while NPF increased his vertical by six inches from the combine. Regardless of how the NFL feels about Munford or NPF, Wednesday’s performance probably did very little to shift their opinion in the opposite direction.
Haskell Garrett/Tyreke Smith
The last of OSU’s six combine participants (not including Ruckert), these two defensive linemen are likely gunning for the middle rounds of April’s NFL Draft. Both lack monster stats, but Garrett possesses disruptive ability and tenacity, while Smith has often flashed a higher upside than his output would suggest. Athletically speaking, Smith had the more impressive performance at the Woody. He was content with his 40-time from Indianapolis, so he only participated in select events during Pro Day. His 3-cone drill nearly matched the times of Teague and WR Chris Booker, and his 20-yard shuttle was merely .11 seconds slower than that of Demario McCall. Not bad for 6’3”, 255. Garrett’s measurables and testing were never going to jump of the page. His speed drills and bench totals were average at best, at both the NFL Combine and Pro Day. But Garrett has intangible qualities that are both undeniable and impossible to measure. Some NFL team will get a steal if they look past the athletic shortcomings.
Demario McCall/Antwuan Jackson/Chris Booker
The G.O.A.T. (McCall), Jackson, and Booker rounded out the participants, and all three are likely just hoping to receive a call from an NFL team in late April/early May. Jackson is the most accomplished on-field performer of the group, but he did not test particularly well on Wednesday. His numbers were near the bottom in most categories, but he did show some short-area burst with his 10 and 20-yard runs. Jackson’s best football might also be ahead of him, as he took a big leap for the Buckeyes in 2021. McCall posted solid, yet unspectacular numbers, but at 5’9”, he probably needed to light it up in order to impress those in attendance. And Booker tested roughly the same. The former club football player and walk-on has his work cut out for him, but you try telling Booker the odds are stacked against him. Both he and McCall have put in years of work with the Buckeyes, and they are highly respected by their former teammates.