Jack Mewhort will be nervous. Already is. He’s not ashamed to admit it. NFL draft analysts don’t expect Mewhort to get out of the third round, but he’s seen too many projections fizzle.
With two days and counting until the first round, the All-American do-it-all lineman continues to surge up draft boards. The dominance he displayed during his final two seasons at Ohio State helps. So too does his versatility.
“Everybody in the NFL community knows about Jack Mewhort,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “He played guard and tackle at the combine. He looks like a second- or third-round player.
“What I liked [at Ohio State’s Pro Day] is they kicked him inside to center. No one had seen him snap before. It created a little buzz. I could see a lot of the offensive line coaches and scouts going, hey, if this guy could play center, he could literally play all five positions on an NFL offensive line. When you only dress seven linemen on Sundays, his versatility will help him. I ultimately think he will go in the second round.”
Mewhort boosted his stock with impressive showings at the NFL Combine and Ohio State’s Pro Day, putting his Orange Bowl woes against Vic Beasley in the rearview mirror.
“I haven’t made it anywhere yet,” Mewhort said at the Senior Bowl. “I was never one to look too far ahead. Day by day, I’ve always leaned on my work ethic and my ability to sacrifice.”
The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Mewhort didn’t realize as he was being shifted up and down the line at Ohio State that there would be a payoff – literally. At the time, there was frustration with wanting to find a permanent position. But he understands how being flexible in the NFL can be an asset.
A standout high school career at Toledo St. John’s was spent at center. That wasn’t an option at Ohio State with Mike Brewster already occupying the position, so Mewhort started 39 games between right guard, left guard and left tackle. The preference in the NFL is zilch. An opportunity is all Mewhort craves.
“Everybody in the NFL community knows about Jack Mewhort.” – Mike Mayock
“Versatility is huge in this league,” he said at the combine. “I grew as a person and got a lot of experience by playing for three different coaches, in terms of leadership styles and being coached in different ways. Playing the different positions added a lot of value to myself.
“It’s like asking a parent to pick a kid. I truly believe I can thrive at every position on the offensive line. I know that sounds crazy. I know you guys are thinking in your mind you have a favorite position, but it really doesn't matter. You point me in the direction and tell me to play the position, I’ll do it as hard as I can go.”
Guard or tackle is the expected landing spot in the NFL. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. believes Mewhort could be a starter at right tackle or center.
“I think he is a late-two, early-three draft pick,” Kiper said.
Simply making an NFL regular-season roster seems a foregone conclusion. Teams don’t draft players in the first three rounds to have them sit on the bench. That range is used for impact players, which Mewhort looked like during his final two years at Ohio State.
He was the leader on teams that finished 12-0 and 12-2, opening up holes for Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller, providing protection for Miller and orchestrating production for a record-setting offense. Last season, Meyer called Mewhort the most valuable player on the offense, not Hyde or Miller, the two-time Big Ten player of the year.
“Under Coach Meyer, everything you did was competing. He charted everything,” said Mewhort, a senior captain. “If you were slacking in practice, it was up there on a board somewhere. Then, under Coach Tressel, we did this thing called quiet time and he’d talk to us every day. I remember, ‘You are who you hang with.' The people you surround yourself with define you.”
Who Mewhort hung with at Ohio State was an offensive line of square pegs that fit perfectly into round holes. Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall formed the nucleus of one of the Buckeyes’ top offensive lines in decades. All four brought a blue-collar, lunch pail approach every Saturday, with Mewhort as the ringleader.
“There’s no stat for toughness and you can’t measure it with a ruler or tape measure,” he said. “But when you turn on that film and see me in practice, hopefully that’s what they think of me this week. I’m here to show that I'm a versatile, tough player, a hard worker and I do things right. I can play this game at a high level.”
Mewhort can prove that all over again in the fall. Right now, he just wants to be a high draft pick.