Should They Stay or Should They Go?

By Kyle Rowland on December 12, 2012 at 10:00a

Awards shows and bowl games dot college football’s postseason landscape. Another annual happening is decision day. It occurs multiple times in December and January, and oftentimes more than once at the same university. 

DON'T LEAVE US, SHUTDOWN BEAST SIRBradley Roby has a big decision to make.

Staying or going?

That is the question posed to college football’s elite players after each season.

For one Buckeye, the answer came early. On Monday, junior defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins opted for the NFL, foregoing his senior season of eligibility. For Hankins, the decision was a no-brainer. He’s been projected as high as a top-10 pick in April’s draft. But even if he slips, Hankins is all but assured to be a first-round pick.

For ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., that is the key.

“If they aren’t guaranteed first-round picks, they should go back,” Kiper said during a conference call on Tuesday.

While Hankins is likely to hear his name called by commissioner Roger Goodell on the first night of the draft, it could come later than what was once expected. Before the season, Hankins was thought by many to be a possible top-five selection. That number has since fallen, somewhat unfairly.

After a sophomore season that saw Hankins finish with 67 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery, 2012 was labeled as the encore. It never materialized. Hankins, an All-Big Ten honoree and second-team All-American, wasn’t bad, but more a victim of outsized expectations.

“Hankins,” Kiper responded Eleven Warriors, “I expected more from. He was high on the big board and was a guy everyone thought going in would be a dominant defensive tackle, a dominant presence up front, and it really wasn’t the case. You just kept waiting and waiting. He made the play in the Michigan game when he created the fumble and he did occupy (space and defenders).

“He has ability and is obviously a tremendously talented player. What you have to weigh is he didn’t have the production, but neither was Dontari Poe coming out of Memphis last season. He ended up being an early first-round pick (11th).”

Kiper has Hankins listed at No. 17 on his list of prospects, while his ESPN cohort Todd McShay has Hankins slotted inside the top 10 at seventh.

The dip in Hankins’ numbers – 55 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack – was in part due to the double teams he faced throughout the year. But once the affable Hankins gets in front of general managers and performs at the combine, they’ll remember why Hankins is such a valuable commodity.

“He’s still in the middle of that defensive front,” Kiper said. “He could be a real factor. You go back two years ago, I liked what he did. You expected more this year and didn’t get it, but he’s still going to be talked about heavily in that mid-first round discussion. Defensive tackles, historically, although their production may not be great, get drafted early.”

When they have the size, speed and athleticism, all of which Hankins possesses, a defensive line prospect verges on can’t-miss. Hankins is versatile enough to play all the way across the line, from defensive end to nose tackle to nose guard. His ability to clog running lanes contributed to Ohio State owning the 13th-best defense against the run. 

El Guapo, Carlos Hyde, is also eyeing the NFLHyde is also weighing options.

“John is at that point now where he's starting to recognize formations, he’s starting to recognize plays and he knows how teams are going to try to attack us and him specifically,” defensive line coach and 14-year NFL veteran Mike Vrabel said. “He’s got a pretty high comfort level out there.”

A fringe NFL prospect at the moment is running back Carlos Hyde. As recently as October, he was not even on scouts' radar. But a strong finish to the season made his stock rise. Hyde finished the year with 970 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught eight passes for 51 yards and a score. All of Hyde's production came in 10 games. 

He's currently rated as the No. 10 running back prospect by, which would slot him in the middle rounds. In last year's draft the 10th running back was taken in the fifth round. 

What makes Hyde so desireable is his speed and size. He might not be the tallest running back, but his physical style translates to production in the NFL. One drawback, however, is only one full season of work. Most front offices would like to see how Hyde put up another year of solid numbers. 

But it's clearly weighing heavily on Hyde. 

Whether redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby and Hyde, a junior, follow Hankins remains to be seen. All Meyer wants is to be alerted about the process. But that doesn’t mean he’s a fan of how the NFL handles underclassmen. Meyer also isn’t enamored with the deadline to declare (Jan. 15) and National Signing Day (Feb. 6).

“There’s a process in place by the National Football League that, at first, I was very disappointed in,” he said “It’s very vague and I didn’t like it at all. I actually talked to Roger Goodell several times about it.

“It’s a very imperfect system. You send it in, they watch the film and give you a grade. I read the letter, ‘You could be drafted as high as this round.’ I’m thinking to myself, 'He’s not going to get picked in that round. Why would you ever say that?'”

Roby’s draft prospects are up in the air. He’s a fringe first-round pick and, as Kiper said, if you aren’t certain you’re going to be selected in the first 32 picks, another year of college is in your best interests.

“Roby is a very talented kid,” Kiper said. “He can fly and he can recover. He’s probably going to clock in at the 4.3 range (in the 40-yard dash). He played with confidence, he has the return game going, he has the interceptions. He’s got a lot of good things going on as a cornerback with his skill set. It’s a hard call.

“Cornerbacks are going to get pushed up. It is not a great year at all for cornerbacks. In fact, it’s a very subpar year, whether it is the seniors or the juniors. You don’t see that elite corner from either class right now. Dee Milliner from Alabama is potentially the top overall corner. He’s a junior and he’s only No. 14 on the big board. No other corner is in the top 25. As a guy with the skill set Roby possesses, it will be interesting to see what his decision is.”

If the decision were up to Roby’s position coach, he’d be back in school. The energetic Kerry Coombs said he believed Roby needed one more year of development.

“I don’t think he’s ready for that yet,” Coombs said. “I think his best days are ahead of him. I think he’s going to be a great player. I think he needs more time, more seasoning.”

Roby finished the season as the nation’s leader in passes defended. He was the third-leading tackler on the Buckeyes with 63 tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. Against Nebraska, Roby scored a touchdown after intercepting Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez.

But it wasn’t just defense where Roby made a name for himself. He returned kicks, blocked a punt and scored after a mishandled snap on a punt. Roby earned All-Big Ten honors and was named a second-team All-American for his efforts.

Roby has over a month to decide what path he is taking. He’s likely given it more thought since November, when it was far from his thought process.

“That’s not really on my mind,” Roby said. “I don’t really want to say anything that’s going to cause speculation. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

Ohio State is losing seven defensive starters, including the entire line, next season. Roby’s absence would leave an even bigger void. The Buckeyes have an opportunity to win the national championship next season.

With Roby returning, he would headline the defense. The Jim Thorpe Award would be a possibility, as would first-team All-American accolades. What that could do for Roby is shoot him up the draft board.

Coombs is already planning on his return.

“I would expect Bradley to be here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to coaching him another year.”


Comments Show All Comments

Rooster Buckburn's picture

With it not being a great year for cornerbacks - and Roby being a gifted athlete who runs a 4.3 - I'm suddenly not liking the chances of him staying in Columbus.  

bhartman13's picture

Yeah I am kind of feeling the same way, especially if Roby is considered a fringe 1st rounder and can work himself up the boards with a good combine.  I sure hope Coombs or Meyer can convince him another year of development could mean top 15 pick next year.  Roby can be a stud next year and work his way up to the #1 CB in the 2014 draft and chase a National Championship so the decision has to be very tough for the young man.

RBuck's picture

Yep Rooster. That sentence brought out an "Oh firetruck!" from me.

Long live the southend.

buckeyedude's picture

I personally think Roby leaving early hurts our chances more than Hankins or Hyde, where they have more depth backing them up. Having a veteran DB is going to be critical next year, IMO.



buckhead buck's picture

Kiper's comments on Hank... it's like Kiper did not watch a single game of his this year and solely read the stat line.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I thought his assessment was fair. It's not like he said Hankins had a terrible year, just that he expected more out of him. He still has him as a 1st rounder.
The problem with Kiper though is that he has to take time out from evaluating prospects so he can attend to his massive head of hair.


acBuckeye's picture

My dad and I always recite this scene when we see Kiper and his hair on TV.

BuckeyeSki's picture

To quote my boy SouthBayBuckeye...dude's got Bram Stocker's Dracula haircut

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

blazers34's picture

Agree with you buckhead. If he didn't live up to your expectations, what exactly did you expect? I thought he was phenomenal 

yrro's picture

The issue with the guys on television who handle the scouting is that they aren't *actually* talent scouts. They're guys who play one on TV. They do some research, and they talk to the actual scouts. But most of the actual scouts have some real issues with the level of expertise they are portrayed as having.

acBuckeye's picture

Yes. I've heard that scouts hate Todd McShay.

BucksfanXC's picture

Selfishly, I want Roby to stay. If I were him, I'd have a tough time deciding. Great to stay at OSU and compete for an NC, 1st team AA, Thorpe award, etc. Great to leave and get that cash. I'm not sure I could put a price on the possibility of being on a championship OSU team, but the NFL would sure try it's best. Best of luck to him either way, I don't envy his decision.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

hodge's picture

Kinda like DeShaun Thomas last year, here's hoping he makes a similar decision.

smithwessonBuckeye's picture

After watching Lattimore's injury, I can understand why even a fringe 1st round pick would go pro. Roby could get to the combine, run a crazy fast 40, do the three cone, shuttle and vertical jump with good numbers and suddenly be a top 20 pick.
RB's are not valued as much as they were 10 years ago in the league. But they also have a shorter career span than other positions. Antonio Pittman left early, got drafted in the 4th round (I think) by the Saints,  got cut and ended up playing in St. Louis behind Jackson. He only played a couple years in the leage and is gone. But he started for 2 consecutive years and was a good all around RB at OSU. Hopefully Hyde doesn't over value himself in the current NFL and leave only to get drafted late without a gauranteed contract. Hyde definitely has the tougher decision to make.

Doc's picture

From your comment Smith, he has no decision.  It sounds to me that even Kiper thinks he should stay, along with Roby.  It would be hard to make a choice between big bucks now or huge bucks later.  Especially when you are a poor college student.

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yrro's picture

On the plus side, any guy who is a fringe first round talent should be able to pick up a good (read: > $1million) insurance policy for next year in case they are injured.

bhartman13's picture

Very true on Hyde.  If I was Carlos I would be thinking about all the young talent (Smith, Dunn, Ball, Zeke) behind me that may take away touches and the fact Hall could be back with his medical redshirt.  Even if Hyde is projected as a 3rd-5th round pick that may be enough considering there is a strong chance he doesn't produce the same numbers next season and his stock slips.  I think Hyde should stay because he may be another Pittman type in the NFL and be out of the league in a few years but then again he could turn out to be a mid round pick that gets a good opportunity and makes the most of it and plays for 10 years.  I will root for his success regardless but worry it could be a mistake either way he goes.

buckeyedude's picture

If Hyde stays I think UFM is going make him the premier RB. Even with Hall returning, Hyde's #s will go up if he stays healthy. The rest of them are just going to get mop up duty in the 3rd or 4th qtrs.



smithwessonBuckeye's picture

I totally agree with Hyde's opportunities for next year if he stays. He did also suffer a couple "minor" injuries this season which limited his overall production for the year. I don't think the potential for extra touches convinces him to stay. I think he takes in to account the injuries he has already sustained and comparing them with knowledge that the next one could end his career forever. Either way for Hyde I hope he makes the best decision for himself. He can be wrong/right with either decision. But his risk is far greater than Roby's. If Hyde gets drafted in the 4th round or later and gets cut, he might not get another opportunity.
As for Roby, he could lose a ton of money by coming out early. But if he gets drafted in the 1st three rounds he will have an opportunity to be hidden on the roster for a couple years if he isn't quite ready for the NFL yet. Premium corners are valued high and extra chances are given to those with great talent. This NFL requires teams to have at least 3 decent CB's and Roby could fit the bill. Green Bay for example has allowed Davon House to develop for a year and he wasn't drafted that high at all. He is getting his opportunities to play pretty regularly and that is with 3 other corners (excluding Woodson who plays a little of everything) playing ahead of him.

popeurban's picture

Looking at Lattimore would make me want to leave even more if I were Hyde.  RBs have a limited shelf life... getting to the league should be the goal IMHO.

acBuckeye's picture

On Big Hank..... I kind of understand what Kiper is saying. I think as a unit, the entire D-line underwhelmed for long stretches this season. I expected this line to be dominant, and they simply weren't. With Hank being double-teamed a lot, this probably reflects negatively on a scout's view of him.
With that being said, the number of times Hank chased a guy down the field, or towards the sideline and made the play was astonishing. He saved a first down in OT against Purdue on the 3rd down play by hustling down the field and tackling the ball-carrier from behind, which forced 4th down. Then that clown QB they had airmailed that pass through the endzone to end the game. Without Hank making that play, we're all still sweating over the outcome. And towards the end of the year, he was busting through the O-line with regularity.
Hyde and Roby both need to stay. Hyde doesn't have that many college carries. He needs to prove he can do more. Roby may benefit from a weak CB class, but he needs to get better at making tackles on first contact. He also needs to not rely solely on his athleticism when he's in coverage. The Penn State game comes to mind. Yes he made some nice plays, but he should've never been in a position where he had to recover while the ball was in the air in the first place. And turn around to find the ball every once in a while too, would ya?
Hyde and Roby have the potential to have monster years next season.

cplunk's picture

Agree with you on Hank- I've never seen a defensive tackle be in on so many tackles on the sidelines and five yards down field. Defensive ends with speed, yes, but NEVER a defensive tackle. He did a great job of getting off blocks and heading for where the play was.

DowntheSideline12's picture

Sorry, love Roby, he's a great player, but currently is not a 1st round pick. He is a great physical corner but I'd like to see him improve his coverage skills. Right now I'd guess a 2-3  round pick FWIW.

Greg Jennings "I put my team on my back"

ARMYBUCK's picture

I would definitely love for Roby to stay but realistically if they are projecting him as a fringe first rounder due to his stats without combine numbers he has nowhere to go but up.  Obviously we dont really know but we can only speculate that Roby will put up monster numbers at the combine, judging by everything Ive read about him.  Hopefully the prospect of being on All American on a National Championship team outweighs his need to leave.  Heres hoping!
@ SmithWesson,  I agree totally with the idea of it being a tougher decision for Hyde.  I definitely think he needs another year.  I think Hyde could easily become a victim of circumstance somewhere and get buried on the depth chart never to be heard from again. One more year sharing the spotlight with Braxton could pay huge dividends for him!

LouGroza's picture

They should all stay, except for Hankins of course. Now, having said that, if they have personal circumstances that puts them in a situation of need to go pro, so be it. Everyone is different in many ways, for many reasons. They need to stay to improve their skills which can drastically improve their stock for next year. But, they could get hurt or have a bad year, dropping their stock. Tough decision for very young guys. Hope they get great support and wish them all the best. We need to show our support whatever decision they do make.

FROMTHE18's picture

a lot of solid DBs in this draft class would push Roby out of the 1st round IMO. I think Hyde needs to get a 1,000 yard year to his name and the potential for next year is immense considering how much he improved by the seasons end. I don't think he'll put up the numbers but if he shows up next year like he finished this year, the dude could at least be in consideration for some major awards and further help his NFL prospects. Not sure youd leave with a chance at 2nd-3rd round money in next years draft. If he goes go, it would be a hit but I think Rod Smith and the young guys will be plenty. 
Hank has so much potential but needs to be more of a spotlight getter on defense. More sacks, more QB knockdowns, more big plays against the run. Lot of potential but needs to fine tune some things before he will be that impact type of player at the next level. 
Roby needs to stay. Hyde needs to stay. If both go, not surprised but IMO, not in their best interests.

Ahh Saturday's picture

It's not just how good a player is that  determines his draft position. The needs of the teams drafting as well as the depth of the position in the draft are equally important. I'm not saying I know where Roby would go, but I know that nobody can correctly make that call just by evaluating his play.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

They're going to get paid if they're drafted anywhere in the first 3 rounds.  Also, these kids need to consider that they can take out insurance policies if they want to come back for another year.  If they get hurt... $3-5 million in the bank.  I think Hyde and Roby need to come back, but Big Hank made the right decision. 

Buckeye06's picture

None of us today know what the boards will look like come the draft.  Guys fall and shoot up the boards often.  If you ask me after reading this, Roby is gone.  11 CBs have gone in the first round of the draft the last 3 years.  2 more went as the top picks in the 2nd.  That's about 4 a year. 
I hope he stays, but the whispers in his ear may be too strong

buckeye76BHop's picture

I personally think Hyde would be making a bad choice to come back only because of a Running Backs life span in the NFL (remember Beanie...just IMO of course. From a selfish view point, I want Hyde because he really helps Braxton more so I feel than ANY RB OSU has "currently on the roster").  Life span seems to be a lot less of a concern for a CB/DB...which is why I feel Roby will be back....this Rivals article makes me think the coaches are in his ear...maybe more so than Hyde or Big Hank.  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

OHBuckInCA's picture

I was going to say the same exact thing about Hyde.  You beat me to it.  With the plethora of people behind him, I'm not thrilled about losing him, but I think Ball or Dunn will be able to fit right in the role he would be leaving.  That being said, I'd love to see him stay another year and get to the maybe the second round level in the draft.

"The time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect." - Woody Hayes

zenshade's picture

I had my suspicions before, but after reading his comments on Hankins, I'm 100% convinced that Kiper is little more than a talking head that mostly talks out of his ass.  You absolutely cannot evaluate defensive linemen by looking at stats divorced from the context of the overall defensive scheme, game to game evolution, surrounding personnel and opponent offensive scheming.  I saw a great many superb plays from Hankins this season where he didn't get the "stat" but none the less forced the opposition into a bad position.
And you have to remember that our problems in the back seven in the first half of the season forced the defensive line to have to play more conservatively across the board, which led to the perception that it was "disappearing" for stretches, when in fact they were carrying out the coaches game plan schemes.
Based on what I've seen of his abilities - explosive power, great lateral quickness, great strength, consistently playing hard - I will be really surprised if Hankins isn't a top ten pick.  I'm expecting top five.