The 2022 NFL Draft Scouting Combine in Indianapolis Ind. is in the books and the seven former Buckeyes in attendance can now move on to the next step in the process. After a week of non-stop evaluation both physically and mentally, we now have another piece to add to the draft puzzle.
For these players that have spent their collegiate years working to put the best performances possible on film, one week can change how the entire NFL perceives them, so the pressure was on.
The seven Buckeyes in Indianapolis this year were Haskell Garrett, Thayer Munford, Chris Olave, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Jeremy Ruckert, Tyreke Smith, and Garrett Wilson. This group has a mix of draft projections that are all over the map, and every player had a lot to gain by putting on a strong showing.
For the players, the week started with medicals, moved to interviews, and finished with on-field testing. After the six-day event, we are going to take a look at how each player fared.
Chris Olave (Projected 1st Round):
Chris Olave set the internet ablaze Thursday night when he clocked in an unofficial 4.26 second 40-yard dash time. After the NFL released official times, that time was deemed inaccurate, and he was given an official 4.39 seconds, which is still a blazing time.
For Olave, there were questions about whether or not he was a top-end athlete, but with his numbers in Indianapolis, those questions should be put to rest.
The other question regarding Olave was his more slender frame. In Indy, the WR weighed in at 187 pounds, which should answer some of those questions. Given that he is just a tad over 6-feet-tall, those questions about his size should be moved on from.
Olave made a lot of money at the combine and as the new mock drafts are released this week, I expect to see him climb into the middle of the first round.
During the Combine’s press availability, Olave said his brother grew up a fan of the Raiders and he’d love to end up in Las Vegas; so look out at pick No. 22.
Garrett Wilson (Projected 1st Round):
Garrett Wilson was the other part of Ohio State’s dynamic duo of receivers to head to the Combine and has been the WR1 for many outlets in the lead-up to the NFL Draft. Wilson went into the week with little to prove and a lot to show off which started when he clocked in 4.38 40-yard dash time.
This week was all about confirmation for Wilson, but he did in fact want to prove a point to certain doubters. ESPN’s Matt Miller said in a tweet that Wilson lacked elite traits.
One more note i'll throw in here.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 14, 2022
I really like Wilson. Rd1 grade. But he's average height (6'), average weight (190 lbs), and expected to run a 4.5.
That pretty quickly gets you typecast in the NFL as not a WR1. His hands and toughness could make up for it but not elite traits
After posting an elite 40-yard dash time, Wilson went to Twitter calling out the doubters and proved that he was the elite athlete that anyone with two working eyes and half a brain could have seen on film.
The projected first-round receiver showed even more explosiveness with his jumping numbers with a 10’3” broad jump and a 36” vertical jump. These numbers were not a surprise (perhaps outside of the 40-time), but if there were any unanswered questions about his physical ability, Wilson answered them.
For the former Buckeye receiver, the only other question left to be answered is how early he goes on draft night.
Nicholas Petit-Frere (Projected 2nd-3rd Round):
After quietly being one of the most productive offensive linemen for two seasons at Ohio State, Nicholas Petit-Frere showed that he has the athleticism needed to be an NFL left tackle. The two questions surrounding Petit-Frere were his size and strength. NPF was able to answer one of those two questions by weighing in at 316 lbs. and measuring in at 6-foot-5, with an above-average arm length of 33 5/8”, solidifying that he has ideal size.
Testing-wise, NPF did not bench press and did not participate in the 3-cone drill or 20-yard shuttle. He did clock in at 5.14 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which ranks in the middle of his position group, as was also the case with his 24.5” vertical jump.
Seen as the more athletic of the two Ohio State offensive linemen available in the draft, there are still some questions left about how his game might translate to the NFL. As NPF prepares for Ohio State’s pro-day and the other upcoming stages of the pre-draft process, the interview components very well might prove to be significant in separating himself from similar tackles in the class.
Thayer Munford (Projected 4th-5th Round):
Arguably the Buckeye with the most to prove in the draft process, Thayer Munford went to Indianapolis with his lasting impression being Aidan Hutchinson bull-rushing him in the snow. Coming into the league with a chip on his shoulder shouldn’t be a problem, and his experience should add some value for NFL teams. Being a player who played multiple positions, the interview portion was going to be a significant aspect in this draft process.
When it comes to the physical aspect, Munford certainly looks the part with measurements coming in at 6-foot-6 and 329 pounds. Having the size to play both inside and outside should increase his value as he moves into the next steps of the process.
Where he could have improved was his 40-time, which clocked in at 5.39, which came in at the lower end of his position group. Munford also tested below average in his vertical jump at 22”, which highlights some of the explosiveness issues evaluators have talked about.
For Munford, his pro-day should provide him ample opportunities to improve on those numbers. Unfortunately, Munford left Indy with a lot of the same questions that he came into town with.
Jeremy Ruckert (Projected 2nd-3rd Round)
The former Ohio State tight end did not participate in on-field drills due to an injury sustained in the bowl game. As many of the Buckeye faithful know, the use of tight ends in Ohio State’s offense is inconsistent at best, which is why the NFL was hoping to see how he did in the drills.
Ruck did answer some media questions regarding his usage in the Buckeye offense, saying, “If you play tight end at Ohio State you are doing every single job and you make an impact in every single way.” Ruckert measured in at 6-foot-5 and at 250 pounds, which is the prototypical size for the position.
In a loaded tight end class with no clear-cut front runner, Ruckert could have cemented himself among the top players at the position with a solid weekend and answered those questions with a solid performance. Unfortunately, he was unable to due that thanks to a plantar-fascia injury.
However, Ruckert did participate in the bench press portion of testing. He fared well with a total of 19 reps, out-pacing the current front runner at the position in Greg Dulcich. With a lot to still be answered, Ruckert’s pro-day will be even more important as the draft approaches.
With the TE projecting as one of the more athletic at his position, the strength numbers shown were enough to answer at least some of the questions about his strength, which will be important when it comes to blocking in the run game.
Haskell Garrett (Projected 4th-5th Round):
Had Haskell Garrett entered the draft following the 2020 season, he likely would have been one of the most buzzed-about interior defensive linemen, especially given all of the intangibles that were front and center during that season.
However, after returning for one more campaign at Ohio State, questions popped up after an up-and-down season. The two challenges that Garrett faced in his evaluation were not being consistently strong, and not being an every-down defensive tackle. Garrett is explosive off the snap, and he tested well for his size; running a 5.02 official 40-time and his vertical was solid for the position at 24” especially considering he weighed in at 297 pounds.
From a measurement standpoint, the former Buckeye has the makeup of a typical 3-technique defensive tackle, and his athleticism for the position is above average. The unfortunate aspect for Garrett is that he — and all the other defensive tackles — had to watch Jordan Davis put on an absolute display of athleticism at 340 pounds.
Overall, Garrett should leave Indianapolis happy with his performance as it solidified his mid-round projection and should net him plenty of suitors come draft weekend.
Tyreke Smith (Projected 3rd-4th Round Pick):
The Buckeye defensive end went to the NFL Combine with little noise surrounding him, and few questions being asked about what he brings to the league. An explosive edge-rusher at Ohio State, he never fully put it all together in his four years. Coming to the combine was an opportunity to show that he has a lot to offer NFL teams.
The one question that was being asked as he headed to Indianapolis was just how explosive could he be? As an athlete, I think he answered that question posting a 36” vertical jump and 9’9” broad jump which ranked in the top-10 in both categories. Add in his 4.86 40-yard dash time answered the remaining physical questions.
Smith participated in linebacker drills and drew a lot of excitement from NFL people with how well he was moving. With his weight coming in at 253 pounds, and working out with the linebackers at the combine, he seems to fits the profile of a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker.
Smith’s athleticism brings a ton of value to the table and his combine should solidify him going in round 3. Overall, if he can improve even more on these numbers we can see Smith lock himself into being a day 2 draft selection.
Overall, the seven Buckeyes who traveled to the NFL Scouting Combine all had successful weekends in their own rights. The majority of them tested well and NFL teams were excited for all seven players who attended. Despite not all of them exceeding expectations, all seven solidified their current standing or improved upon it this past weekend.
As these former Buckeyes look to build on this step of their evaluations, their pro days will gain even more importance with the players being the center of attention that day. We will also get to see the performances of some other Buckeyes who were not invited to Indianapolis for the combine, so the next step will be exciting as the draft continues approaching.