Saturday Skull Session

By Vico on February 23, 2013 at 6:00a

Everybody's workin' for the weekend, because, if we are to believe Loverboy, everybody wants a new romance. The weekend becomes the desired end, for which the weekday is the means, so that we can all go on dates with our lady or guy friends.

I can't speak to that, though I am definitely inclined to believe Mike Reno's proposition here. He wears a red headband to most events, as well as red pleather jacket and pants. All of these are cues that convey wisdom. Also, he sang "When It's Over".

However, I work for the weekend so I can provide you guys weekend Skull Sessions.

Today's session will focus on the NFL Combine, checking in on how Zach Boren, Reid Fragel, and Jake Stoneburner are doing. Boren made the rounds of the NFL Combine on Friday as part of the skill players (RBs). Fragel and Stoneburner went first on Thursday as part of the offensive line and tight end group.

FRAGEL: INEXPERIENCE IS MY STRENGTH. Reid Fragel and Jake Stoneburner are arguably the two most intriguing Buckeyes at the NFL Combine these next couple days. Hankins will be the first Buckeye taken in the NFL Draft, though he seems to be hovering near the cutoff between first-round and second-round pick.

Still, it's Fragel, and to a lesser extent, Stoneburner, that will garner interest from Buckeye fans and NFL draftniks alike.

Reid Fragel will get a very strong look from NFL teams, though he might have to wait a day (maybe two) before his name is ultimately called at the podium during NFL Draft festivities. His position — offensive tackle — is a premium in an NFL dominated by pass-first West Coast offenses. Even if spread/run concepts are beginning to proliferate in certain areas of the NFL, the strong emphasis on pass protection and protecting the quarterback will remain. Fragel is more a right tackle in the NFL, as he was for the Buckeyes, but the interest remains.

His career trajectory would mirror that of Nate Solder, now with the Patriots, who was a tight end for half his collegiate career at Colorado. Fragel had even less time at offensive line (just one year!), though demonstrated as much potential. The Buckeyes' offensive line was stellar. Fragel walked into an uncertain situation, with true freshman Taylor Decker pushing him from the two-deep, and helped anchor the best offensive line in the league, en route to an undefeated season.

The early projections look positive. Though Fragel is slated as a fifth-round pick in April, he argues that his best football can only be ahead of him precisely because of his inexperience.

“I think after this week’s over they’ll see that I possess a lot of strength and speed... I have a lot of tread left on my tires, where some of these linemen might be worn down a little bit more. I think my best football is ahead of me.”

Should NFL scouts be convinced by this argument, as well has some measurables like his bench press, his draft stock could only improve. Reid Fragel had 33 reps of 225 lbs on the bench, tops among offensive tackles and second only to offensive guard, and Ohio Bobcat, Eric Herman, among all offensive linemen.

 STONEBURNER NEEDS TO SEPARATE FROM THE PACK. If offensive tackles continue to be the non-quarterback premium position in the NFL, then tight end is a position not far behind. Great tight ends are becoming rarities. Not only does every team want their own Tony Gonzalez, but the position is becoming a need in the NFL to counter some of the more exotic blitzing tendencies of defensive minds like Rex Ryan. Tight ends, with their ability to pass protect, run block, and stretch defenses on pass routes, are becoming luxuries.

They're becoming luxuries as long as they can do it all. Stoneburner may need to show a bit more as the NFL Combine continues, and at Ohio State's Pro Day in the near future. Stoneburner was a wide receiver, who became a tight end, who, under Meyer, played both positions. Stoneburner may have been our worst blocking tight end (Reid Fragel was our best), but our best blocking wide receiver. Stoneburner is aware of this, but also knows that he won't be tasked too much with run-blocking.

“They might have their hands down in a three-point (stance), but they’re running routes 65 to 70 percent of the game... I think that’s going to play to my strengths.”

Minus that game-sealing touchdown against Penn State in 2012, he didn't demonstrate elite speed last year. Then again, he didn't need to do that in order for Ohio State to be successful.

“We knew if we wanted to win, we needed our quarterback to run and our running back to do well... I’ll never complain about that for one second.”

Right now, Stoneburner is scheduled as a 6th-7th round draft pick, though it seems very likely someone is going to take a flyer on him. If Stoneburner jumps up some team's board, he will have done so with his 40 time and, maybe more importantly, some of the other agility drills. Stoneburner believes he's up to the task, since he's been consistently measured near 4.6 while at Ohio State.

Our only other measure of Stoneburner at the NFL Combine is his bench press. He put up 18 reps of 225 lbs, which was 9th among tight ends.

Oh, for what it's worth, Stoneburner was measured at 6'3 at the NFL Combine. He was listed at 6'5 by Ohio State for his entire career. He done shrunk!

Zach Boren isn't complaining about this, not one bit.

 BOREN LOOKING FOR AN OPPORTUNITY. The latest Ohio State football alumnus to arrive at the NFL Combine is Zach Boren, who arrived with the other skill players on Friday.

Like Fragel and Stoneburner, Boren had his own unique career trajectory. He was predominantly a linebacker growing up, much like his dad, Mike Boren, was. He arrived at Ohio State as a linebacker, but was too good and too valuable to Jim Tressel as a fullback for him to wait for a spot at linebacker. When Meyer took over, Boren's role diversified, before becoming a full-time middle linebacker by the Indiana game. He was invited to the NFL Combine as a running back, because the NFL Combine does not distinguish between fullback or tailback.

Boren is listed by NFL Draft Scout as the 4th-best fullback in the NFL Draft. It's nice that they made the distinction. However, "4th-best fullback" is saying little because the position is becoming obsolete as I-formation sets become more infrequent. The best fullbacks are often folded into the tight end position. It's why an undersized tight end like Aaron Hernandez becomes a very good fullback on a few occasions for the Patriots.

The top fullback in this year's NFL Draft looks to be Florida State's Lonnie Pryor, who shouldn't go any earlier than the 4th round. The second-best fullback, Kyle Juszczyk of Harvard (!), is listed as a 5th-round pick.

Boren may get drafted, but near the very end of the third day. As such, he is having some opportunity to be selective in interviews. In the later rounds of the NFL Draft, teams tend to "regionalize" their picks more, selecting roster additions based more on convenience of getting them to camp. He's talked with the Browns and Bengals, even remarking that the Browns would be a nice fit because of Trent Richardson and his family's connection to Cleveland sports. His maternal great-grandfather was Lefty Weisman, the first full-time trainer in the Cleveland Indians' franchise history. Weisman worked for the Cleveland Indians from the 1920s-1940s.

He did admit having to transition back to an offensive mentality has been a little tough.

“I think the weirdest part is last night I was talking to some coaches and they were having me draw up offensive plays... I’m like man, obviously I came prepared, but I haven’t seen offensive plays in three months because I’ve been doing defensive things. That was a little different, training my mind to get back to the offensive side.”

Though, like Stoneburner and Fragel, he isn't complaining about how the last season unfolded. It's hard to argue with 12-0.

On that note, apparently Boren's roomie in Indianapolis is Denard Robinson. To be a fly on the wall, no?

 MISCELLANY. Iowa hired a new running back coach, the most thankless position coach in college football... Purdue and Nevada will play a home-and-home in 2016 and 2019... John Simon was named the #4 player of last season by ESPN's B1G TEN blog. Montee Ball got the #2 spot, and Braxton Miller hasn't been profiled yet. You do the math... Michigan State still needs to find an offensive coordinator... Thank goodness for Rich Rodriguez... Don't do it, Ohio kids. Just. Don't. I speak from experience.


Comments Show All Comments

popeurban's picture

I am really rooting for these guys (Fragel, Stoney and Boren) to make it.  These guys did a great deal, especially Fragel and Boren to help our team win.  (I am aware that Fragel's move to OT was so he would play)
Buckeyes forever!

Poison nuts's picture

I'll preface this by saying I like Stoneburner...BUT...The other reason Stoneburner's stats sucked last year: he dropped a lot of passes. He had plenty of opportunities, and he came through in plenty of clutch situations, but when he says that OSU had a run first mentality, and that's why the poor stats, he's forgetting to mention all the passes that hit him squarely in the hands & were dropped.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

popeurban's picture

but when he says that OSU had a run first mentality

I here you Poison, but I feel that the kid has to say that.  What is he going to tell the League?  "I had a bad year."

Poison nuts's picture

Oh I agree completely that's what he's gotta say. I guess I'm just thinking out loud on that point. Jake had plenty of drops that then lead to less balls coming his way...That was his deal this year. That said & I should have said this before, I am rooting for him to do well in the combine & to get a good career going for sure.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

popeurban's picture

arghh. hear, not here.  Sorry. 
Either way, good stuff Poison.

sharks's picture

I can't imagine there isn't going to be a NFL roster spot out there for Boren.  He has backup LB/Special Teams Ace written all over him. 

A man got to have a code...

puff daddy's picture

agreed.  with boren's mentality and toughness,drafted or undrafted,he'll make a team.


JYBUCKEYE's picture

If Owen Marecic is a NFL fullback. I would draft Boren as my QB.  
"He done shrunk".  That funny right there. 

AcrossTheField11's picture

Owen Marecic... that name makes my blood boil.

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

JYBUCKEYE's picture

I know right.  Was trying to think of the worst fullback I could think of. He happens to play on our Brownies. OIC!!!

BuckeyeMark's picture

I am cheering like crazy for Boren.  For him to jump to defense in the middle of the year was completely selfless and totally about team.  Any NFL team could use someone like that. I get the Combine and why they do it - but c'mon - football isn't played in shirts and shorts on a track!  Crank up some game fillm and you'll see Zach Boren just gets it done!

Smanpoint10's picture

I just can't believe with how well Boren transitioned to defense that nobody will give him a look there

dan_isaacs's picture

Fragel will b e on NFL network running 40 in a minute.

Dan Isaacs

dan_isaacs's picture

unofficial 5.09 in first attempt.

Dan Isaacs

BoFuquel's picture

If Jake and Zach can play special teams they may get a chance. Every team is looking for those guys willing to commit suicide, or become a hit man for the paycheck.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

buckeyedude's picture

I still remember the argument that many on 11W were making before last season began that Taylor Decker, true freshman, should start over Reid Fragel. This is an example of why we're fans and not coaching.
How ironic is it that Boren and Shoelace are rooming together? 



BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

Ha Ha Ha... Boren and Denarded rooming together...they can compare Big Ten championship rings... oh wait. nevermind.

Riggins's picture

Fragel Rock = 3rd round pick.  Too much potential, NFL loves the former-TE-turned-OT guys, still growing into his OL body but maintaining athleticism, etc.

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

OK, I did the math... and I really hope the ESPN B1G Blog didn't rank Braxton as #26... that would be wrong.

Squirrel Master's picture

6'3'' for Stoney huh? I always wondered why he didn't take more advantage of that 6'5'' height and become more of a big end zone target. Now I know why! 
Evan Spencer and Mike Thomas are as big as him and probably faster. I really do believe him being the 3rd wideout hampered this passing offense as much as Braxton's learning curve. Having Marshall, Corey Smith, James Clark and the 2 I mentioned above battling for that 3rd spot will be so much better than last year. Couple that with the continued growth of Brax and Devin/Brown, this will be so much fun next year.
I really wish Boren would get a look at MLB/FB than just a FB. He is so diverse and teams like NE and SF should really think about that. Belichick would love Boren.
Watching Fragel run 40 right now. He is slower than I expected but 33 reps on the bench and he is a legit 309 lb with a 6'7'' frame, he has the potential to be a stud right tackle. I would love to get him in KC around 4th round. 
I would love KC to take Fragel in the 4th, Boren in the 6th. I don't like Simon for our 3-4 and I don't think Stoney will be worth drafting IMHO. Wouldn't hate for Hankins to fall to 2nd round pick, but hope he doesn't fall that far. Would be a shame and I doubt teams late in first will let him pass. Can't believe he is getting passed up by some of these guys. He is so much better than what they think. I see this story about the "Path of Sharrif Floyd". What about Hankins. Hankins wasn't even highly rated and he is just as good as Floyd if not better. I call BS on that one!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

cplunk's picture

The 40 is pretty much the most worthless measurement of an offensive lineman, so not worried if Reid was a little slow. 

thatlillefty's picture

If Urban is serious about competing with 'Bama then locking down Glenville should fall high on his list of priorities. That's our pipeline and it needs to be protected.

gobucks96's picture

Think Boren already met Denard a couple of times in November..

Bort's picture

Yes!  Those are good memories. 

"We've always had the best damn band in the we have the best damn team in the land"
Jim Tressel

osubuckeye4life's picture

Fragel seems like he will be steal if he goes really late. Someone will be getting a fine football player.
Boren has to make a team. The guy is so selfless and can play well on both sides of the ball. 
Stony will make a team also. He has deceptive speed and is very athletic. 
Boren and Robinson as roomies.
Zack: "Remember when I leveled Gardner at The Game in November"?
Denard: "Yea, man I'm glad that wasn't me".