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Column: Teams are overthinking a couple Ohio State prospects ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft

Two dynamic Buckeyes are a couple of the best prospects on the board, but teams refuse to accept facts.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ohio State v Georgia Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The NFL Draft process is absolutely ridiculous. Do we really need months of mock drafts? I’ll look at a few here and there, but we definitely don’t need as many as are out there now. The NBA and NHL have it right, since they have their annual player drafts about five minutes after the season ends. There are times when NFL Draft speculation can be fun, I just can’t handle it for the almost three months that are between the end of the Super Bowl and the draft.

Obviously there are big differences between those two leagues and the NFL. It’s a lot tougher to fill out a 53-man roster as opposed to how many roster spots have to be filled in the NBA and NHL. Plus, NHL draft picks are likely going to spend a few years in the minors unless there are talents along the lines of Connor McDavid or Nathan MacKinnon available in the draft.

It used to be that the NFL Scouting Combine and individual pro days were key events in the draft evaluation process. Technology has made those events pretty unnecessary these days. Unlike 30-40 years ago when in-person scouting was key to teams deciding which players they were going to target in the draft, now teams can watch any game from anywhere.

While we are on the subject of the combine, how many of these workouts that players are put through are as important as they want you to think they are? Why do we have 300-pound linemen running the 40-yard dash? How often are they sprinting 40 yards in a game? When are players broad jumping in the game? Don’t even get me started on the 3-cone drill. If you look at those who have put up the best numbers in these drills, the majority of them are guys who were in the league for about five minutes.

By now you’re probably wondering where I’m going with all of this. With so much time between the end of the season and the NFL Draft, teams end up overthinking themselves. You can see this with a couple Ohio State players leading into this week’s draft. Lately there have been more and more reports coming out that has resulted in quarterback C.J. Stroud and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba falling on some draft boards.

The case of Stroud has been quite a roller coaster ride. First it sounded like Stroud was essentially quarterback “1B” behind Alabama’s Bryce Young. Then Stroud was the favorite to be the first quarterback taken in the draft, and possibly even the first overall pick. Now there is talk that three or four quarterbacks could be taken before Stroud. As exhausting as this all is for me to process, I can’t even imagine what it has been like for Stroud.

Could somebody please explain to me as simply as possible why Will Levis is now looking like he could be the second quarterback taken in this year’s draft? Levis couldn’t even beat out Sean Clifford at Penn State, so he transferred to Kentucky. During his two seasons at Lexington, Levis put up good numbers, but he threw 23 interceptions. Stroud threw over 40 more touchdowns and 11 less picks than Levis. I know the offenses weren’t the same, but I trust Stroud to make better decisions than Levis. When I think of Will Levis, I just think of a Jake Locker reboot.

Apparently some of the reason for the drop in Stroud’s draft stock recently has been a cognitive test where the former Buckeye quarterback scored in the 18th percentile, which means it is already a lock that Stroud will be a bust. You want to know my test when it comes to intelligence? If you take the quarterback that puts mayo in his coffee and eats bananas with the peels still on over a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist then you automatically fail.

The case of Jaxon Smith-Njigba isn’t quite as egregious as C.J. Stroud, but there have been some things that the “experts” have said about the wide receiver that have raised some eyebrows. Even before the calendar turned to 2023, Todd McShay was spewing verbal diarrhea about Smith-Njigba protecting his draft stock while dealing with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for essentially all of the 2022 season.

Maybe all this was to get people talking about King, McShay, and the other dorks that release these things. The last time I remember Peter King being relevant was when he said he broke the news of Robin Williams’ death to some waiter in Milwaukee. Aside from that, if you wanted to describe the last decade for King you could give it a title of “Peroni & word vomit”.

I just hope Stroud and Smith-Njigba land in the best possible spots. At least with all these recent reports, Stroud won’t have to worry about being drafted by the Houston Texans, who are one of the worst run teams in professional sports. In a perfect world, Stroud and Smith-Njigba will look back on some of these reports and opinions on them heading into the draft and have a good laugh at them as they wrap up Hall of Fame careers 10-15 years down the road.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl Game - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

More recently Peter King was wondering why Smith-Njigba was the top-rated receiver on the board after dealing with an injury all year. I guess King thinks Smith-Njigba was the first-ever talented wide receiver to ever be sidelined due to an injury. While it definitely wasn’t ideal for Smith-Njigba to be sidelined for the 2022 season, he undoubtedly showed why he deserves to be one of the top receivers in this year’s draft with what he did during the 2021 season.