Kicking Off Which Teams To Watch During This Year’s College Football Season!
There will be plenty of people that will see this and will think that it is way too early to begin scouting 2018 draft prospects. That’s sort of true. They haven’t turned in a full body of work yet so things will change between now and next year’s draft. However, these guys have turned in enough work to get a good idea of who they are as players. Also, anything having to do with the draft is just fun.
Under head coach Urban Meyer the Ohio State Buckeyes have been producing NFL players at an incredibly high level. During the 2016 draft, there were 12 Buckeyes selected. 11 of the first 102 picks came from Ohio State. And in this year’s draft, there were seven Buckeyes drafted.
Looking ahead to the 2018 draft it looks like the Buckeyes will have another impressive group of players heading to the NFL.
Meet The 2018 Draft Prospects:
There is still a good amount of time until the 2018 draft so there is a real chance that some of these players could end up being irrelevant for one reason or another. There’s also a chance that there is a player not listed who could become a prospect.
Linebacker Jerome Baker, 6’1”, 225 lbs, Junior:
To give you an idea of who Baker is as a player, in his first 2018 mock draft Bleacher Reports Matt Miller said Baker is a “Ryan Shazier-like prospect”. He plays fast. There will be concerns about his size but no one will question his athleticism.
In 2016 Baker made 12 starts and compiled 83 tackles, nine and a half tackles for loss, three and a half sacks and two interceptions. If he puts together a similar season in the upcoming year then there’s no question he will be an intriguing prospect for teams looking for athletic linebackers.
Defensive End Tyquan Lewis, 6’4” 265 lbs, Senior:
Lewis has been the Buckeyes’ most productive pass rusher the last two seasons. In 2015 he had eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss. He followed that up with eight sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in 2016. Also, he was named the Big Ten defensive lineman of the year in 2016.
As good as he is as a pass rusher he probably does his best work against the run. He does a really good job at anchoring and holding his ground. Another productive year for Lewis and he should have his name called in the early round of the 2018 draft.
Cornerback Denzel Ward, 5’10”, 191 lbs, Junior:
Ward is next in line to take over as the Buckeyes’ top corner. The junior is the most experienced player at the position on the roster. He managed to play a lot of snaps last season despite first round picks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley being in front of him.
Ward doesn’t have the size that Lattimore and Conley both do. One thing he does have going for him is speed. He’s been recorded as the fastest player on the team. During the Buckeyes’ spring practices Kerry Coombs, Ohio State’s cornerbacks’ coach, said that Ward is as good as Lattimore and Conley. If he proves that next year he will have plenty of NFL teams interested.
Defensive Lineman Dre’Mont Jones, 6’3” 295 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore:
Jones became the Buckeyes’ most important interior defensive linemen last season after the original starting defensive tackle went down with a season-ending injury early on in the season. He emerged as a difference maker as the season went on.
For a guy his size, Jones is an outstanding athlete. He has great quickness and speed. Last season he was often taken off the field on passing downs when Ohio State would send four defensive ends out there to get after quarterbacks. However this year he may be able to stay on the field during passing downs. There are rumors that the Buckeyes might try a package that features five defensive linemen.
Safety Damon Webb, 5’11”195 lbs, Senior:
Last season Ohio State had what many considered to be the most talented secondary in college football. Three out of the four members of that secondary were first round picks. The other member was Damon Webb. Webb began his career at Ohio State as a cornerback before switching to safety before last season.
Although he didn’t receive the amount of praise that the other members of the secondary did, Webb still had a solid year. He had 52 tackles and an interception in his one year as a starter. Now that he is the leader of the secondary and out of the shadow of former Buckeye Malik Hooker, Webb could have a break-out year next season.
Guard/Center Billy Price, 6’4”, 312 lbs, Senior:
Price has started 41 consecutive games at guard for the Buckeyes. Next season he will move to the center to fill the hole left by Pat Elflein, who was selected in the third round by the Vikings. Price has provided solid play during his career. In 2016 he was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America team.
He was also a captain for the Buckeyes last year. If he has another good year he could follow the footsteps of his former teammate, Pat Elflein, to the NFL.
Tackle Jamarco Jones, 6’5”, 310 lbs, Senior:
After Taylor Decker graduated from Ohio State and took over as the left tackle of the Detroit Lions, it was Jamarco Jones that took his old job as the left tackle of the Buckeyes. He had a solid year last season. The Buckeyes’ offensive line struggled at times but Jones never seemed to be the issue.
If he can have another good year then he will be a solid prospect in the 2018 draft.
Defensive End Sam Hubbard, 6’5” 265, Redshirt Junior:
Despite the fact that he didn’t have much production last year, many expected Hubbard to enter the draft. Luckily for the Buckeyes, he returned. He’s a freak athlete, possessing a combination of size and speed that not many around the country can match.
Next year Hubbard might be playing outside linebacker at times. The Buckeyes have a lot of really good defensive ends, so moving Hubbard to linebacker at times opens up snaps for other ends and allows Hubbard to show versatility. NFL teams love versatility. If Hubbard proves he can handle linebacker responsibilities his stock will be up in the eyes of NFL teams.