Seven Buckeyes Sign Undrafted Free Agent Deals

By 11W Staff on April 27, 2013 at 10:35p

The 2013 NFL Draft came and went with only three Buckeyes – defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, defensive end John Simon and tackle Reid Fragel – selected, but several other members of Urban Meyer's first Ohio State team quickly signed undrafted free agent deals with teams around the league soon after the draft ended.

Jake Stoneburner, Zach Boren, Travis Howard, Orhian Johnson, Nathan Williams, Etienne Sabino, and Garrett Goebel all earned NFL camp invitations by signing contracts Saturday night. As anyone that's seen Hard Knocks can tell you, making a team as an undrafted free agent is tough sledding, but it can be done. Just ask Arian Foster, Wes Welker or Antonio Gates.

Stoneburner has an opportunity to catch passes from one of the game's best in Aaron Rodgers if he can make the best of a free agent deal with the Green Bay Packers. Seeing time split out and at H-back in Urban Meyer's offense means Stoneburner has a chance to work himself into the Packers offense in several spots and he couldn't be more excited about it.

Stoneburner’s college stats may not be eye openers – 53 receptions, 714 yards and 13 touchdowns – but his potential is still something football minds are enamored with. A lack of utilizing the tight end was a major factor in Stoneburner’s stats. Still, he is second all-time in program history in touchdowns by a tight end.

Boren, Howard and Johnson, all signed with the Houston Texans, where they'll join former teammate DeVier Posey (when he heals, at least) on a team that will make noise again in the AFC. 

Howard was named First Team All-Big Ten following a 39-tackle, four-interception senior season, but saw his stock slip at the East-West Shrine Game when he left scouts unimpressed. The Texans also signed Michigan State's Johnny Adams, Howard's counterpart on the coaches version of the All-Big Ten first team, so that could be an interesting battle to keep on eye on.

Boren is looking to take his fullbacker role to the Texans, ready to fit in however the team needs him. After three and a half years at fullback, which he was very good at, he made the switch to linebacker where he finished with 50 tackles, averaging more than eight per game during his six-game stint on defense.

Johnson, once a starter at safety for the Buckeyes before settling into a nickel role, finished his senior campaign with 39 tackles and two interceptions. He was equal parts excited and gracious on Twitter:

Sabino, a five-star recruit that overcame early struggles to become a team leader for the 12-0 Buckeyes, will join Johnathan Hankins with the New York Giants. Hankins, as the team's second-round draft pick, has a spot on the team. Sabino will have to earn his. If the way he bounced back from a broken fibula is any indication, we like his odds.

Although he was plagued with injuries in Columbus, including a microfracture surgery, Nathan Williams still finished with 25 TFLs and 12 sacks and earned an invite from the Minnesota Vikings.

Goebel was a team co-captain as a senior and a five-year member of the program that started the final 25 games of his career along Ohio State's defensive line, finishing with 86 tackles and 11 TFLs. He's headed to St. Louis Rams where he'll join former Buckeyes linebacker James Laurinaitis and longsnapper Jake McQuaide.


Comments Show All Comments

gumtape's picture

Regardless of how you guys do in the NFL, you will always have 12-0.
Go bucks.

High and tight boo boo

Blue Eyed Buckeye's picture

If you believe that the NFL draft is a tough but fair evaluation of how good a player really is, it sure does say a lot about Urban Meyer.
It says that with a senior class that only had one 2nd round and one 4th round NFL talent, he went undefeated.  If you compare the talent Urban had to Alabama you have Alabama with 7 players selected before the 5th round while Urban had 7 players who were UDFAs.
If Urban can coach 1 of 11 undefeated teams in the last 10 years with such a talent disparity in his senior class, what happens when he has a senior class the talent level we saw from Alabama this year?  And, by the way, it's not unrealistic to think such a senior class may be this year's freshman class.
It also says something about the heart and work ethic of this senior class.  They weren't the most talented class in Ohio State history but with the work ethic and mentality exhibited by guys like Simon, Boren, and Hankins they achieved something special.

yrro's picture

It apparently says a lot about OSU coaching in general the last few years. Bunch of Buckeyes on very dominant teams not getting drafted/getting picked in low rounds. Many of them seemed to manage to work their way into rotation or a starting job anyway, though, as long as they stayed healthy. Brewster, Rolle, Coleman, Saine, Boren, Sanzenbacher, Posey...

jestertcf's picture

Sometimes this is a blessing, rather than a 6th or 7th round pick. The player can sometimes choose the situation that fits him the best.
I last remember this with Dane Sanzenbacher. He is working out fairly well with Chicago.

~Because we couldn't go for three~

amk1616's picture

Sanzenbacher was released by the Bears and then signed on with the Bengals, but didn't see any action for them.

SilverState's picture

He was signed like 3-4 days before the last game of the season and they, of course, lost their wild-card game. Didn't have much of a chance to learn the playbook/see any action.

MediBuck's picture

I think Stoney's in the best position to break out. Finley was injury-prone and unremarkable last year, and all it takes is one more hurting to hail in another Joker TE in the pass-happy attack they run in Green Bay.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

osubuckeye4life's picture

Best of luck to all the guys in NFL! I hope to be hearing your names on Sunday in the next few years.
One observation:
Stoney to Green Bay me likey! 
Picking up Lacey on Friday made my day and this is a nice bonus. I hope he does great things for the team!

gumtape's picture

Let's hope that lacy does not take a job from Brandon saline though.

High and tight boo boo

OHIOST1087's picture

Saine was released from the Packers before the draft because of a failed physical. He's currently a free-agent.

Urban Ohio's picture

Browns sure could have used my boy Travis Howard. Browns have 16 HOFers. 4 from tOSU.

Newcomerstown Trojans between Woody and Beaver.

Buckeyejason's picture

No they couldn't. Howard wouldn't be able to cover anyone in the league.


headina's picture

Congrats to all bucks who were picked up! 
Did anyone else notice Rutgers had about 15 guys taken? It seemed like every 5 picks was a player from there. I know the bucks are a young team and didn't have too many guys on the board but c'mon. 


osubuckeye4life's picture

Greg Schiano definitely had an eye for talent when he coached there.

13THandSummit's picture

As a Vikings fan (dad is a browns fan, mom a steeler and my bro a bengals, go figure) I was already extremely happy with their draft and Williams is the perfect icing on the cake! Good luck to all of them, but hope stoney doesn't tear up the vikes when GB comes to play.

zbd's picture

Don't expect any of these Buck free agents to make the teams. The Big Ten had only 1 player in the first round, and a center at that. Shows how things go in cycles.

Dread's picture

The power of positive thinking.