COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — 14 former Buckeyes showcased their skills Tuesday in front of NFL scouts and coaches as part of Ohio State’s Pro Day.
Headlining the group of Buckeyes participating was quarterback Justin Fields who led OSU to the College Football Playoff twice and the 2021 National Championship game. Fields is projected to go in the top 10 of the NFL Draft but where in the top 10 continues to be a hotly contested topic.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, and new head coach Urban Meyer, are primed to take Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick.
But from there it’s anyone’s guess with the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons rounding out the top four, respectively. All three teams are in the market for a quarterback, especially the 49ers who traded up with the Miami Dolphins to snag the third pick.
“Anyone who was here to see it live and in color was able to see just how talented he is,” OSU coach Ryan Day said. “He’s the most accurate down the field passer I’ve ever seen.”
First Round Buckeyes
Justin Fields, Quarterback: Fields was the most accurate passer (75%) in 2020, per Pro Football Focus. He ended his career at OSU with a staggering 5,373 pass yards and 78 total touchdowns in just two years (really one and half due to the shortened 2020 season). He showed moments of poor-decision making with five interceptions in 2020 and is prone to hold onto the ball a little too long. But his upside equals that of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson as an accurate thrower with an ability to extend plays, improvise and keep defenses off balance with his running prowess.
Wyatt Davis, Offensive Guard: Davis was a two-time first-team All American who’s phenomenal in run blocking and above average as a pass blocker. Davis left the National Championship game with a left knee injury, a problem that burdened him throughout the season and something that could affect his draft stock. Davis said his knee affected him ever since Ohio State’s win against Indiana and that was also the case in the national championship game. He said he did not need surgery and focused on rehab as soon as the season was over.
“Ohio State has put me in such a good position,” Davis said. “With the type of offense we ran, it’s similar to the Bills and a bunch of other teams.”
2nd Round Buckeyes
Josh Myers, Center: Myers is a projected mid-2nd round pick. Myers was the runner up for the Rimington Trophy given to college football’s top center. Myers provided stability that allowed Fields to blossom during his two years at OSU. Myers would be ideal for any team with a younger quarterback.
Myers revealed some breaking news during his Pro Day press conference saying he suffered a turf toe injury in the Big Ten Championship game and hurt it “significantly worse” in the CFP semifinal win against Clemson. He played through the pain in the National Championship, but needed surgery on the toe after the season, which is why he was limited in what he could do during OSU’s Pro Day.
Middle Round Buckeyes
Tommy Togiai, Defensive Tackle: Togiai is a projected late 2nd round pick. Togiai played three seasons at OSU but 2020 was his first year as a starter. He totaled 19 tackles and 3 sacks last season and excelled in stopping the run, due in no small part to his strength. Togiai put that on display when he lifted 40 reps on bench press.
Only 20 draft prospects have finished with 40 or more bench-press reps since 2000, according to Pro Football Reference’s tracker of results.
“I’ve got the speed along with [the strength] and I just wanted to put that on showcase today,” Togiai said.
Baron Browning, Linebacker: Browning should go no later than the 3rd round. He was OSU’s most athletic and versatile linebacker in 2020. He’s best used as an outside linebacker but can also play middle linebacker. He ended his OSU career with 109 tackles, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Browning played occasionally as a true freshman and more regularly as a sophomore earning a full-time starting role in 2019. He can start immediately in the NFL.
Trey Sermon, Running Back: Sermon exploded onto the scene as Ohio State’s featured back late in the season. The Oklahoma grad transfer shattered Eddie George’s single-game rushing record going for 331 yards against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship. He was red-hot again versus Clemson with nearly 200 yards on the ground. Sermon is a receiving threat as well and was poised to have a big game against Alabama but was forced out of the game after suffering a shoulder injury on the Buckeyes’ first drive. At Pro Day, Sermon said the injury has not affected him the past few months. Sermon will be a steal in the mid rounds.
Pete Werner, Linebacker: Werner was one of the rare OSU linebackers to take on a starting role as a true sophomore. He started every game that season and remained a starter for three seasons. Werner ended his OSU career with 185 tackles, four sacks and three forced fumbles. Werner has good size and above-average athleticism making him a Day 3 pick, likely in the 5th round.
Shaun Wade, Cornerback: Wade will not be participating in Ohio State’s Pro Day. After the 2019 season, Wade was a shoe-in to be a 1st round pick. But after a less than ideal 2020 season, Wade could fall as far as the fifth or sixth round. The two-time first-team All American could decide to return to OSU to try to improve his draft stock.
Jonathan Cooper, Defensive End: The Gahanna native had his best season with the Buckeyes in 2020. He totaled 22 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in the College Football Playoff. In 2018, Cooper played every game totaling 25 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. Cooper was named a captain in 2019 but an injury forced him to take a redshirt year and only allowed him to play in four games. Cooper has good size and has one of the best first steps off the snap of any defensive lineman in the draft. He’s not the most skilled but his average size and football IQ give him the potential to be a force in the NFL.
“With all the teams I’ve been talking to, they see me as an outside linebacker, and I want to show them I can play SAM, outside linebacker,” Cooper said. “I want to make sure the scouts know I can do that at the next level.”
Justin Hilliard, Linebacker: Hilliard has overcome a slew of injuries to get to where he is today and that’s a chance at playing in the NFL. He suffered a torn meniscus the first week of training camp his freshman season and then tore his Achilles tendon in the spring of 2018, forcing Hilliard to decide is he still wanted to play football. But he overcame those obstacles to play in 2019 and 2020. Hilliard was the fourth linebacker at Ohio State in 2020 but forced his way onto the field with the energy he brought to each snap. What Hilliard lacks in size he makes up for in intelligence and hard work. Hilliard had 17 tackles, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and an interception in 2020. Hilliard will be a valuable special teams player early in his career and that will allow him to showcase his ability to be in the right spot at the right time to make a big play. His play was even recognized and lauded by Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy:
Punter Drue Chrisman and kicker Blake Haubeil have a chance to get drafted in the 7th round or sign as undrafted free agents. Chrisman was OSU’s featured punter for three seasons averaging 44 yards per punt. He doesn’t kick the furthest, but does have excellent placement skills.
Meanwhile, Haubeil started three seasons as the Buckeyes’ kicker making 28 of 35 attempts. Haubeil has range with his longest kick being 55 yards and is above average from distance making 7-of-9 attempts from 40-49 yards. He only attempted one kick of 50+ yards, which could negatively affect his draft stock.
Probable Undrafted Buckeyes
- Tuf Borland, Linebacker
- Luke Farrell, Tight End
- Jake Hausmann, Tight End
- C.J. Saunders, Wide Receiver