The NFL Combine starts in earnest Friday. There is a lot going on and it can be hard to follow. There are ten former Buckeyes in the combine and all have a chance to get drafted if they perform well. Every year at the combine someone drastically improves their draft stock and someone sabotages themselves with a poor performance. So what do these 10 Buckeyes need to do to make sure they improve their status?
Nick Bosa; Perform Well, Avoid Setback
Nick Bosa is a generational prospect that has put an incredible skill set on film. He’s nearly a unanimous lock for the first overall pick. Most players with this kind of clout rarely need the combine to improve their standing. Bosa is a different case. He has not played a game since September. The combine gives him the chance to show off his health. Bosa is recovering from a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only three games. He plans to participate in all combine drills and leave no doubt he has fully recovered from injury. He has spent his down time preparing for the NFL and would not be participating if it did not benefit him.
Dwayne Haskins; Sling The Ball
Dwayne Haskins will be one of the first quarterbacks selected in April’s NFL draft. A good combine performance could put him near the top of draft boards around the league. Haskins is a below average athlete, posting better than expected times in the 40 and shuttle drills could help his status with teams. The interview process will be big for him, having only 14 college starts on film. Showing he can understand NFL defenses and make NFL reads is important to ease questions about his lack of game experience. Most important though for him will be slinging the ball. The NFL always has a place for big arm talent. Haskins is the most gifted passer Ohio State has had in a long time. Still he misses the easy touch passes every now and then. The ball also will sail on him a bit. These issues are mechanical fixes that he can put on display this weekend.
Parris Cambell; Run a Sub-4.4
Paris Campbell is an enigma to the mock draft guys. Bleacher Report has him going in the second round while many other sites have him as late as the sixth round. Because of this disparity, the combine is of great importance for Campbell. Every year the combine has someone perform very well and shoot up draft boards, Parris Campbell could be that guy. He was a track star in high school, and could very well post this year’s fastest 40 yard dash. In this tweet from Ohio State Football you see him running a 40 and is clocked at 4.26 by a stopwatch.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) June 12, 2018
If Campbell runs this well and makes it through the weekend without any drops he can drastically improve his standing.
Mike Weber; Handle The Shuttle Drill
Injuries sidelined Mike Weber multiple times in 2018 (hamstring, elbow). Durability is paramount. Running back is a short lived position in the NFL. The knocks on Weber are his vision and quickness in and out of cuts. He has shown the ability to be a strong runner and has good speed once he hits the edge, but too often he doesn’t see the right cut or isn’t quick enough to make a second one. Chris Trapasso of CBS has Weber ranked as the 25th overall running back in and says he has “below average vision”. To improve his draft status he will need a clean medical exam and great interviews with teams. His quickness is the big question though. He will need to post a better than expected shuttle times and cone drill.
Terry McLaurin; Hands
Terry McLaurin set the world on fire at the senior bowl. He did arguably more to help his draft status than anyone there.
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) January 24, 2019
Coming off the great Senior Bowl, testing well at the combine could take him way up the draft boards. On tape, McLaurin does most things well, except extending and catching with his hands. Trapping the ball with his body is a bad habit that McLaurin will have to break to be successful in the NFL where coverage is much tighter than in college football. If McLaurin tests well physically, runs a sub 4.4-40 and shows comparable speed in other drills, then catching balls with his hands will be key for NFL teams evaluating him. This seems trivial but teams will have to split hairs when making decisions on draft day.
Dre’Mont Jones; Be Big And Strong
Dre’Mont Jones is going to be a first round draft pick. Not much upward mobility for him still though the salary difference between pick number 10 and pick number 30 is a good amount. Jones has a great first step and should run well. He may be the most athletic defensive lineman in the draft but that athleticism is not the concern for him. Size and strength are his draft board question marks. Gavino Borquez of USA Today said “Doesn’t possesses overwhelming power and isn’t a threat to win with bull rush moves against the run.” Most teams more than likely view him as an interior pass rusher but if he’s a liability against the run it could hurt him. Weighing in more than his listed 283 pounds and getting in the 30+ reps range in the bench press will be key.
Mike Jordan; Test And Interview Well
Mike Jordan is the latest in a line of Ohio State guards to make the transition to center and excel. This versatility and his 6-7 frame make him a very appealing project for NFL teams. Jordan’s decision to declare early for the draft surprised some, as he could have benefited greatly from returning to school for another season. Jordan is currently looking at a mid-round selection. NFL draft analyst Matt Miller has him rated as the ninth best interior lineman in April’s draft. View Jordan as a two year project that has potential to start right away. Team meetings will make a huge impact on where he is selected because of his latent potential and NFL frame. The main thing for Jordan is to just have a good showing all around if he test better than expected and has no foot in mouth moments teams will want to draft him.
Isaiah Prince; Get Measured And Be Coachable
Isaiah Prince, like Mike Jordan, is a giant person. Prince is very long and athletic and that will make the transition to the NFL easier for him. He is a violent run blocker and great moving downhill but is a suspect pass blocker. The major issue is pass blocking technique, high hips and weak balance making him susceptible to second moves from defensive lineman. Showing up and reminding everyone he has a big time NFL body and has exceptional athleticism will be important for Prince. Maybe most important for Prince will be showing NFL coaches that he is willing to work to improve his pass blocking technique he can move up draft boards and has potential to be a NFL starter.
Kendall Sheffield; Be Open Minded
Kendall Sheffield is the odds on favorite be this year’s 40 yard dash champion. Being the fastest guy on the field does not translate to great coverage corner though. Sheffield has been really bad in coverage with his back to the ball. One-on-one coverage is Sheffield’s biggest weakness. Battling at the line of scrimmage is another. That’s not great news for a cornerback stepping up in competition. Maybe a position change is in order. A move to safety would allow Sheffield to face the ball and use speed to play sideline to sideline. Also a good tackler, Sheffield was eighth in tackles for the Buckeyes last season from the cornerback position. A move to safety would only give him more opportunity to make tackles. This move may not even be on the table for Sheffield or NFL teams scouting him but maybe it should be. No one has any doubt about Sheffield’s incredible athleticism so combine drills should only bolster that. Being open to doing whatever a NFL team needs from him could open more doors for him. A team could take a gamble on him because of that incredible athleticism.
Johnnie Dixon; Wow Someone
Good news for Johnnie Dixon is every opportunity in front of NFL coaches is a chance to impress. Late round pick to undrafted free agent is where Dixon is being projected. Dixon’s battle is up hill. NFL analyst Lance Zierlein said he “Appears to be a better athlete than football player at this juncture”. Dixon has good athleticism but he isn’t expected to run as well as the other Buckeye speedsters Sheffield and Campbell. The place where Dixon could potentially improve his draft stock is route running. Because of his size and quickness he translates more towards the slot receiver spot. His talents however are that of an outside receiver. He will have to demonstrate the ability to change his game and move inside to garner any real attention.