Make no mistake about it: Thad Gibson is his own player. Besides he and Vernon Gholston sharing the requisite physiques to protect houses and such in Under Armour commercials after their playing days are over and both having the flexibility to fit into both 4-3 DE/3-4 LB necessitating D's, there aren't an awful lot of similarities between the two. Despite the seemingly long odds for us to hear Mel Kiper's talking combover break down Gibson's intangibles during the draft's opening round (Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ESPN), make no mistake about it, the guy should hear his name called some time Friday evening during round 2. And while he may be the only Buckeye going before Saturday's final five rounds, that's not to say he'll be the only one having their dreams come true all weekend.
The Sure ThingsSo Thad, we know. He'll likely go round 2 (3 at the latest). He's garnering a lot of hate, either from GMs who want him to fall to a lower, cheaper pick for their team to take, some folks still aren't quite sold on his motor/ view him as not quite an NFL DE but not fast enough to be an LB, or others just lazy and are trying to sell themselves that he's somehow the next Vernon Gholston.
Next on the list would be Captain Kurt, the safety extraordinare himself. He too has had a number of folks question whether he's truly a strong safety, or if he has the kind of speed necessary to make it anywhere in an NFL secondary. A fourth or fifth round pick seems well within reach, however, and some lucky team will benefit immensely from getting a player with the kind of drive and resolve of K.C. Teams routinely draft for depth in the middle rounds, so expect a run on corners/safeties around the time Coleman goes off the board.
The big sexy himself, Doug Worthington checks in as another possible late rounder. As recently as two weeks ago, the 292 lb DT made a cameo in Western New York to talk shop with the Bills. While likely but a fifth-to-seventh rounder at best, Worthington too should provide solid value in the later rounds. If nothing else, dude flies a mean flag.
The final probable Ohio State draftee comes courtesy of The Vest's very own Farmville, the special teams department. Aaron Pettrey, who missed the end of the 09 regular season with a knee injury he sustained against New Mexico State, has bounced back nicely and has drawn the attention of a number of teams looking at kicking prospects. The San Diego Union-Tribune even goes as far as to list Pettrey as his second highest rated kicking prospect in this weekend's festivities. So long as the Kentucky product can avoid kicking from within 29-yards and closer, whatever NFL team rolls the dice and goes K between rounds 4 and 7 should have themselves a heck of a weapon.
While these players are by no means likely NFL draftees, the chance exists enough for ESPN Insider ($) to include them in their draft eligible database. We mentioned Lawrence Wilson just a couple days back, and feel good stories like this from the Akron Beacon Journal make it all but impossible not to root for the guy. WIlson's biggest shortcoming may be a lack of extensive body of work as a result of playing time, but the St.V-St. Mary product should have every chance to make a team if he can catch on with a team in the later rounds or by making a team out of camp.
Austin Spitler and Jim Cordle also both share 6th or 7th round aspirations. Both guys don't fit the traditional molds of the type at their positions, but bring in an awful lot of X's and O's IQ to offset their physical limitations. These guys should definitely get a chance as undrafted free agents if they fail to hear their name called by Saturday evening.
It seems like just yesterday we were watching Rob Rose absolutely terrify offensive linemans in the Army All-American Game en route to a 3-sack afternoon. Rose's underwhelming Ohio State career makes his NFL aspirations somewhat murkier, though the athletic upside should earn him a non-guaranteed contract to have a shot at making a team this Summer if he can keep his conditioning up.
The rest of the 11W crew constantly laud me for my affinity for one Russell, Anderson. Short a few injuries, who knows what the guys' career could've turned into. By all accounts, he too should have a shot at making a club the old fahsioned way, but a few underwhelming workouts have rendered his draft possibilities pretty improbable. In spite of his very public shortcomings (amidst a number of a far from equally recognized accomplishments), I'd love a cat with A.R.'s heart on my NFL team. Here's hoping the right club gives a resillient guy a chance.
Todd Denlinger remains the one Ohio State NFL draftee outsider who resonates with me for whatever reason. True he may not have the raw athleticism of a Rose or Wilson, but the guy is a gritty, lunch pale type who could have a solid shot of making an NFL interior defensive core go at it even just a little bit tougher in the dog days this summer. The Ohio State pedigree should earn him an audition, at the very least.
Finally, of course, we've got our dude Ray Ray. He may be feeling a little trepidation about the unknown, but we've got his back. Best of luck Smally.
I intended to close with a video of a sick Ray Small punt return, but instead was far too amused by this completely fake video of an Ohio State student getting arrested for stealing a parking permit and attempting to resell it. Queue up the Gerry Rafferty. Happy NFL draft, y'all:
UPDATE: It's been pointed out to me I completely omitted tight end Jake Ballard. This alone should be considered a crime as Ballard's super human leap alone should merit late round consideration at worst. While Ballard has been under the radar of the likes of ESPN and NFL.com, a source tells 11W that 2-3 teams have shown very serious consideration in taking the often under utilized tight end in one of the last several rounds and that should he slip through the cracks of the system, an undrafted free agent contract is guaranteed on the other side. Good luck Jake.