Before Urban Meyer became the head coach at Ohio State the Buckeyes were an elite program and routinely put prospects into the NFL. But since taking over in 2012 Meyer has elevated the talent level even further pumping out NFL Draft picks at a record level. Twelve Buckeyes heard their names called in 2016 and seven more in 2017.
It is not unusual for big time programs like this to have numerous prospects drafted each year, but what makes the Buckeyes unique is prospects are able to step in with little to no experience and emerge as elite highly drafted prospects. Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore are two prime examples or prospects who stepped into starting roles last year with both being drafted in the top half of the first round.
Here are the next Buckeyes that are poised to emerge ad top level prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Billy Price C 6’3 300
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) June 19, 2017
Price is looking to follow the footsteps of former teammate Pat Elflein moving from guard to center. It was Elflein who played left guard as a junior before moving to center to replace the departed Jacoby Boren. Elflein thrived at center and was drafted by the Vikings in the third round of the 2017 draft. As good as Elflien was, Price’s potential is sky high with some draft analysts believing he could be a first round pick. Price uses his athletic ability to his advantage moving well laterally to stay in front of defenders and keep the middle of the line clean. In the run game Price uses his quickness to get into position to seal off defenders but uses leverage well to steer defenders and open up running lanes.
Dre’Mont Jones DT 6’3 295
Don’t let his status as a redshirt sophomore give you any hesitation as we saw Malik Hooker declared last year. Jones was a 12 game starter last year as a freshman making an early impact using his speed and quickness to disrupt the backfield. What makes Jones different is while he has the strength to anchor and stop the run, his ability to move laterally allows him to make plays out of his gap. Jones does need to improve his pass rushing moves as he relies too often on his athletic ability. If Jones can develop a move or two his stock may only flourish and he’ll have to make a tough decision about his future.
Chris Worley MLB 6’2 240
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 19, 2017
With Raekwon McMillan now with the Dolphins we’ll see Worley move inside to man the middle linebacker position. While McMillan was more of a downhill linebacker, Worley is your new age middle linebacker who uses his speed to run and make tackles. Being 240lbs helps as he’s able to take on blocks and even run through some to attack the ball and make tackles. Worley is no slouch against the pass as he had plenty of experience covering tight ends in the Big 10 even shadowing Jake Butt around.
Jerome Baker WLB 6’1 225
Two years ago we saw the New York Jets take Darron Lee with the 20th overall pick to fill their Deone Bucannon role as an undersized but ultra athletic linebacker. If you watched any Buckeyes game last year you had to see #17 flying around and always being around the ball. Baker stepped into Lee’s weakside linebacker role last year and hit the ground running. While Baker is still a little raw he makes up for mistakes with his fluidity and explosiveness. A reported 4.37 40 yard dash only enhances the appeal to teams wanting to get faster at linebacker.
Denzel Ward CB 5’11 191
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 28, 2017
In 2016 we saw the emergence of speedster cornerback Marshon Lattimore who in his first full season as a starter quickly emerged as the top corner in the 2017 NFL Draft going 11th overall to the Saints. With both Lattimore and Gareon Conley gone the Buckeyes look to reload at corner and could turn to their third cover from last year to be their new number one. Ward is similar to Lattimore in that he has good speed and can make quick twitch moves to stick with receivers in and out of breaks. What could hurt Ward is he is a little small at his listed 5’11 height. However he’s not afraid to get physical and with fluid hips and ball skills it’s hard to look past his talent.