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LGHL Which Ohio State Buckeyes could get picked in the 2017 NFL Draft?

  • Thread starter Christopher Jason
  • Start date

Christopher Jason

Which Ohio State Buckeyes could get picked in the 2017 NFL Draft?
Christopher Jason
via our friends at Land-Grant Holy Land
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After a record breaking 2016 NFL Draft, we take a very early look at the 2017 draft class.

12 members of the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes were selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. With multiple underclassmen departing, there will not be as many seniors and redshirt juniors to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. Here, we breakdown the seniors, the underclassmen who should (will) enter the 2017 draft and the ones on the fence.

The seniors

Pat Elflein: Pat Elflein was the lone, draft-eligible and draftable underclassman who decided to come back for his senior year. Elflein has played in every game for the Buckeyes since 2013. He played guard the past two seasons; however, he will be playing center this season, shoring up the middle of the offensive line and making the calls. The two-time first team All-Big Ten selection will be one of the better interior linemen in college football next season, and should be the first Buckeye to have his named called in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Early projection: 1st-2nd round

Corey Smith: Corey Smith has had an up-and-down career in Columbus. He arrived out of junior college, redshirted in 2013, got playing time in the receiver rotation in 2014 and then broke his leg in 2015 after sitting out the first game of the season due to a suspension. Smith was granted a sixth year of eligibility and is more of a special teams ace than a playmaker on offense. The 6'0", 190 lb wideout will get a camp invite due to his ability to make plays on special teams, comparable to Evan Spencer.

Early projection: UDFA

Cameron Johnston: The Aussie had the chance to turn pro and enter the 2016 NFL Draft, but he decided to come back for his senior year. This is only his third year of playing organized football , after growing up playing Australian Rules Football. Johnston has had 146 punts downed inside the opponents 20-yard line and only 14 of his 155 career punts have resulted in a touchback. If Johnston has a strong year, he may get his name called late in the third day, but he will most likely be picked up as a priority undrafted free agent.

Early projection: UDFA

Dontre Wilson: Wilson arrived at Ohio State with a ton of hype as Urban Meyer's first Buckeye recruit to play the H-back position. After a decent freshman campaign, he has dealt with a nagging foot injury which has kept him off the field the past two seasons. Due to Wilson's lack of size, breakaway speed and big play potential, it is unlikely that Wilson will get selected. Hopefully, If Wilson can stay healthy, he should get signed as an undrafted free agent.

Early projection: UDFA

Underclassmen who should declare

Raekwon McMillan: McMillan is the next great linebacker to come out of Ohio State and he is a safer NFL prospect than the recently drafted Darron Lee or Joshua Perry. The former 5-star recruit has seen significant action since his freshman season and started every game as a sophomore, leading the Buckeyes in total tackles (119) in 2015. McMillan is instinctive and a true three-down linebacker, who will be the number one middle linebacker selected if he declares.

Early projection: 85% chance he declares for the NFL Draft

J.T. Barrett: Barrett has great pocket presence, accuracy and decision making skills which would make him a viable NFL option, but he lacks NFL arm strength and appropriate size to make him a top quarterback selection. If Barrett bounces back from a tough 2015 season, he could get the NFL buzz that Russell Wilson received at Wisconsin and leave for the NFL. If the two-time captain heads to the NFL, he will be selected in the third or fourth round.

Early projection: 70% chance he enters for the NFL Draft

Underclassmen who could declare

Gareon Conley: Conley will be the No. 1 corner on the 2016 team and if he has a significant development, like Eli Apple, he has the length and man-coverage background to impress NFL scouts. Conley will get his chance to match-up against the opponents top wideouts and make plays as a junior. Not to mention, he will have a former NFL head coach, Greg Schiano, on his case throughout the season. The 6'0", 190 lb corner has the talent and the experience to bolt to the NFL early.

Early projection: 60% chance he declares for the NFL Draft

Tyquan Lewis: It wasn't the No. 3 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, Joey Bosa, who led the 2015 team in sacks, it was Tyquan Lewis. Lewis had a monster 2015 campaign; totaling 54 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss and eight sacks. With Bosa's departure, Lewis will be the focal point on the defensive line and he will receive his share of double teams. With a couple of highly regarded defensive end recruits on their way to Columbus, Lewis may decide to test the NFL waters if he has another monster 2016 season and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft.

Early projection: 55% chance he declares for the NFL Draft

Curtis Samuel: The Brooklyn Swiss Army Knife was labeled as a "Top 5 playmaker" on last year's loaded roster. Samuel has played H-back, receiver and running back at Ohio State and is a big play waiting to happen. With multiple key departures on the perimeter and in the backfield, the 2016 season is Samuel's time to shine. He could lead the Buckeyes in total touchdowns, receptions and 20-plus yard rushes, and head to the NFL with his stock at its peak.

Early projection: 55% chance he declares for the NFL Draft

Marcus Baugh: We all know the up-and-down career that Marcus Baugh has had at Ohio State; however, he is extremely talented and has NFL size and potential. The 6'5", 255 lb tight end was the de-facto No. 2 blocking tight end last season and with the departure of Nick Vannett, he will get his chance to shine in 2016. If the spring game showed anything significant, it is that Baugh will be a bigger part of the offense. Say Baugh leads the team in touchdown receptions, the fourth-year junior may be enticed to leave.

Early projection: 45% chance he declares for the NFL Draft

Billy Price: The fourth-year junior enters 2016 as a two-year starter at guard, where he has been a key piece of their dominant run game. The former freshman All-American is one of the most athletic and strongest linemen in the conference. If the Buckeye run game continues to succeed without Ezekiel Elliott, Price's stock will be at an all-time high and he may take his size (6'4", 315 lbs) and strength to the NFL.

Early projection: 45% chance he declares for the NFL Draft

Underclassmen who could but aren't ready to declare

The following players have yet to see significant playing time at Ohio State, but they have the NFL size and talent to make the leap if they have a great 2016 campaign:

Jamarco Jones: Jones has played sparingly during his first two years at Ohio State and has the left tackle position locked up for 2016. Although there is a slim chance of him bolting after one-year as a starter, it's possible.

Early projection: 90% chance he stays in school

Noah Brown: Coming off of a broken leg, Brown should be the No. 1 outside receiver in 2016. He has the size and physicality that could catch the eyes of NFL scouts.

Early projection: 80% chance he stays in school

Sam Hubbard: Hubbard has a chance to become an every-down, dominant defensive end at Ohio State. Hubbard is a phenomenal athlete and has transformed his body to become a full-time starter in 2016. Hubbard has flashed playmaking ability and the ability to get to the quarterback, which would make him an enticing NFL prospect.

Early projection: 80% chance he stays in school

Jalyn Holmes: Holmes arrived at Ohio State as a highly touted recruit in 2014. He got playing time on the national championship team, but lost out on the starting defensive end position in 2015 to Lewis. Holmes will be in the defensive end rotation with Lewis, Hubbard, Rashod Berry, Jonathon Cooper and Nick Bosa, which may force him out at the end of the season. Holmes has the length (6'5") that NFL scouts salivate over and has the potential to become a great pass rusher.

Early projection: 70% chance he stays in school

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