On the surface of this game it appears to be fairly lopsided. That may be true as Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes could be destined for back-to-back undefeated seasons. The Buckeyes come into this contest as 36 point favorites but that doesn’t equate to lopsided draft talent.
The Bulls feature a handful of draft prospects including one that could challenge to be taken in the first round of May’s draft. While this contest serves mostly as the first roadblock in Ohio State’s run for perfection – it may be the catalyst for Khalil Mack to start his steady rise in the national media’s draft eye’s.
Ohio State has it’s normal host of NFL Draft prospects, highlighted by one that won’t suit up in this contest – Brad Roby. Roby is suspended from this contest following an off-the-field incident over the summer. The Buckeyes will also be without starting RB Carlos Hyde but it’s likely that neither will be needed as Braxton Miller and Company kickoff the 2013 season.
After the break, we’ll key in on several 2014 NFL Draft prospects on both sides of this tilt and one matchup for NFL Draft fans to keep an eye on.
**Brad Roby and Carlos Hyde won’t be featured as they are suspended for this contest.
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Junior
If you don’t like Ryan Shazier, you don’t like football. The kid is all over the field, plays hurt, and has become the pulse of this defense. Shazier is one of the most athletic defensive players in the country with his signature speed and athleticism. While there are holes in his game (needs to wrap up ball carriers with consistency and hasn’t been utilized as a blitzer), there’s a lot to love with Shazier’s game. He’s an instinctive, smart football player with better than advertised take-on strength. It’s laughable that some have pegged him as a late-round prospect in my book. This kid is the future of defensive football as team’s seek out three-down linebackers that can serve all the needs of the defense.
Jack Mewhort, OT, Senior
Mewhort really came on strong last year – his first as a full-time starter at the left tackle position. Mewhort was in Urban’s doghouse after a summer of ’12 arrest but came out and outperformed fairly lofty expectations on a very good OSU line. Mewhort is the leader of this veteran OL and will be counted on to keep Braxton Miller healthy all season. Mewhort is one to watch this season as there were times that he looked to have 1st round ability. He’s gotten better every season at OSU and another year of quality play could push him into the second tier of tackles in the 2014 class.
Braxton Miller, QB, Junior
Braxton Miller is a Heisman frontrunner and for good reason. Last spring after I visited two day of OSU practice, I said this kid is on the cusp of being a very good quarterback but wasn’t there yet. This spring, he turned that corner. He’s become much more efficient with his feet in the pass game and I think we see a 60% plus passer this season. Miller dynamic ability with the ball in his hands rivals that of the best in the game and will keep OSU in the National Title hunt. If he shows marked improvement in his accuracy as a passer – he will fit squarely on the NFL radar screen.
CJ Barnett, FS, Senior
Barnett looked to take a step backwards last season. After a sophomore season that had some thinking he could be legit NFL safety he’s still left to living up to those expectations in 2013. Barnett’s tendency to get caught up in the backfield action left him out of position and beat over the top too often in 2012. When I saw him this spring, he looked much more prepared and the coaching staff lauded his work in the film room during the offseason. If Barnett can get back on track in 2013, he could push himself up what appears to be a weak safety class.
Marcus Hall, OG, Senior
Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, and Marcus Hall form one of the better OL interiors in college football. Hall has been up and down over his career at OSU but looked the part this spring of an NFL guard. Norwell and Linsley have been more consistent but Hall could be the best prospect of the bunch. Hall was noticeably slimmer this spring and much quicker getting to the second level. Hall is going to rise up draft boards this year and could be a mid-round selection when it’s all said and done.
Others to watch: Andrew Norwell, OG, Senior – Jordan Hall, RB/WR, Senior – Christian Bryant, SS, Senior – Corey Linsley, OC, Senior – Devin Smith, WR, Junior – Philly Brown, WR, Senior