NFL mock draft season is in full swing, which means it’s time for draft analysts and writers around the country to begin taking their best guesses at where this year’s top prospects – which include numerous former Ohio State players – will land in the 2018 NFL draft.
|2.||NEW YORK GIANTS|
|4.||HOUSTON TEXANS (TRADED TO BROWNS)|
|6.||NEW YORK JETS|
|7.||TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS|
|9/10.||OAKLAND RAIDERS (TBD BY COIN FLIP)|
|9/10.||SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (TBD BY COIN FLIP)|
|14.||GREEN BAY PACKERS|
|17.||LOS ANGELES CHARGERS|
|22.||KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (TRADED TO BILLS)|
|23.||LOS ANGELES RAMS|
|27.||NEW ORLEANS SAINTS|
|31.||NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS|
With the conclusion of the 2017-18 NFL season last Sunday, when former Buckeye defensive back Malcolm Jenkins won his second Super Bowl as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots, the selection order for the 2018 NFL draft is now set (with the exception of the ninth and 10th slots, which will be determined in a coin flip between the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers at the NFL Scouting Combine, and compensatory draft selections, which have yet to be announced).
As such, many of the most prominent writers and media outlets who cover the NFL draft have published over the past week their early projections for how the draft, which is scheduled for April 26-28, will play out.
We’ve taken a look at some of those mock drafts to get an idea of where this year’s Ohio State draft hopefuls, led by cornerback Denzel Ward, center Billy Price and defensive end Sam Hubbard, could end up. While most mock drafts at this juncture of the draft process only include the first round or early rounds, we did find a couple that projected how all seven rounds could play out.
This edition of the NFL mock draft roundup includes the following 12 analysts’ projections, which will be detailed for each Buckeye prospect below:
- Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller (7 rounds)
- CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin (1 round)
- CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso (1 round)
- Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling (7 rounds)
- ESPN’s Todd McShay (1 round)
- NDT Scouting’s Scott Bischoff (1 round)
- Newsday’s Nick Klopsis (1 round)
- NFL.com’s Chad Reuter (3 rounds)
- NJ.com’s Darryl Slater (2 rounds)
- SB Nation’s Dan Kadar (1 round)
- USA TODAY’s Nate Davis (1 round)
- U-T San Diego’s Eddie Brown (2 rounds)
Denzel Ward, CB
Slater: Round 1, No. 3 overall, Indianapolis Colts
Miller: Round 1, No. 6 overall, New York Jets
Davis: Round 1, No. 6 overall, New York Jets
Reuter: Round 1, No. 8 overall, Chicago Bears
Brown: Round 1, No. 8 overall, Chicago Bears
McShay: Round 1, No. 9 overall, San Francisco 49ers
Kadar: Round 1, No. 10 overall, San Francisco 49ers
Bischoff: Round 1, No. 18 overall, Seattle Seahawks
Easterling: Round 1, No. 19 overall, Dallas Cowboys
Dubin: Round 1, No. 23 overall, Los Angeles Rams
Klopsis: Round 1, No. 25 overall, Tennessee Titans
Trapasso: Round 1, No. 28 overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
The verdict is unanimous in the 12 post-Super Bowl mock drafts we surveyed: Denzel Ward will be a first-round pick, making him the fifth Ohio State cornerback selected in the first round in five years.
Seven of the 12 mock drafts have Ward going in the top 10 – with the Jets, Bears and 49ers all being the teams who enter the offseason with needs at cornerback – which would make Ward the Buckeyes’ fourth top-10 pick in three years (following Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott and Eli Apple, all in 2016).
Given that, it would be somewhat surprising if Ward fell as far as the twenties, like Dubin, Klopsis and Trapasso projected. Klopsis’ projection, though, would certainly be intriguing from a team fit standpoint, as it would reunite Ward with former Ohio State cornerbacks coach and recently hired Titans secondary coach Kerry Coombs.
Billy Price, C/G
Miller: Round 1, No. 21 overall, Buffalo Bills
Bischoff: Round 1, No. 21 overall, Buffalo Bills
Reuter: Round 1, No. 22 overall, Buffalo Bills
Kadar: Round 1, No. 22 overall, Buffalo Bills
Davis: Round 1, No. 22 overall, Buffalo Bills
Brown: Round 1, No. 22 overall, Buffalo Bills
McShay: Round 1, No. 23 overall, Los Angeles Rams
Dubin: Round 1, No. 30 overall, Minnesota Vikings
Klopsis: Round 1, No. 30 overall, Minnesota Vikings
Slater: Round 2, No. 37 overall, New York Jets
Easterling: Round 2, No. 46 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
The consensus mock draft landing spot for Price is the Bills, who have back-to-back picks in the first round (thanks to a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of last year’s draft), and need a new center following the retirement of longtime offensive line linchpin Eric Wood last month.
Another popular projected landing spot for Price has been the Vikings, where Price would move back to guard to play alongside Vikings 2017 third-round pick Pat Elflein, like they did when Elflein was Ohio State’s center in 2016.
Nine out of the 12 mock drafts we surveyed projected that Price will be a first-round pick.
Sam Hubbard, DE
Slater: Round 1, No. 23 overall, Los Angeles Rams
Miller: Round 1, No. 24 overall, Carolina Panthers
Brown: Round 1, No. 31 overall, New England Patriots
Reuter: Round 2, No. 36 overall, Indianapolis Colts
Easterling: Round 2, No. 57 overall, Tennessee Titans
Ohio State’s chances of having three first-round picks for a third straight year could hinge on whether Hubbard is a top-32 pick.
While all five mock drafts that projected at least two rounds included Hubbard in their projections, with three of those mock drafts projecting Hubbard as a first-round pick, none of the first-round-only mocks surveyed included Hubbard.
One late first-round projection that would make a lot of sense for Hubbard, though, is Brown’s projection of the Patriots. The Super Bowl runners-up need to upgrade at the defensive end position, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has strong relationships with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, who are both likely to recommend Hubbard highly.
Jamarco Jones, OT
Miller: Round 2, No. 37 overall, New York Jets
Slater: Round 2, No. 40 overall, Denver Broncos
Easterling: Round 2, No. 55 overall, Carolina Panthers
Reuter: Round 3, No. 90 overall, Atlanta Falcons
Projected as an early second-round pick right now by both Miller and Slater, Jones appears to have an outside shot of ending up as a first-round pick if he performs well in his pre-draft workouts. While he was not widely projected as an early-round pick going into his senior season at Ohio State, an excellent final year protecting J.T. Barrett’s blind side has elevated his draft stock.
Left tackle tends to be a demand position in the NFL draft, which is why Miller and Slater are among those who project him to be an early second-round pick after he proved his ability to play the position for the Buckeyes for the last two years.
Not everyone sees Jones going that high in the draft, as Reuter has Jones falling to the late third round, but it does appear that unless Jones moves into the first round, he should be a good bet to selected on Day 2 of the draft.
Jerome Baker, LB
Easterling: Round 2, No. 56 overall, Buffalo Bills
Miller: Round 2, No. 60 overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Baker didn’t perform as well as he needed to in his junior season to establish himself as the first-round draft pick he was once expected to be, but Easterling and Miller both project him to be a late second-round pick, while the highly athletic former Buckeyes linebacker remains a strong candidate to improve his stock when he works out at next month’s NFL Scouting Combine.
Miller’s projection of Baker to the Steelers is particularly interesting because it could enable Baker to learn from another athletic former Ohio State linebacker, Ryan Shazier, who continues to recover from a spinal injury but is expected to have a role with the Steelers next season even if he is unable to play.
Tyquan Lewis, DE
Miller: Round 3, No. 90 overall, Atlanta Falcons
Reuter: Round 3, No. 94 overall, Minnesota Vikings
Easterling: Round 6, No. 178 overall, Oakland Raiders
Coming off of his strong performance at the Senior Bowl, Lewis is projected as a late third-round pick by both Miller and Reuter. Easterling, however, projects a steeper and surprising fall for the 2016 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, as he has the defensive end falling all the way into the sixth round.
Jalyn Holmes, DE
Miller: Round 4, No. 98 overall, New York Giants
Easterling: Round 7, No. 223 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
Like with Lewis, Miller put more stock into his fellow Ohio State defensive end’s strong performance at the Senior Bowl and the versatility he showed as a Buckeye than Easterling.
Miller projects Holmes as a top-100 pick – which could easily make him a third-round pick or better, after compensatory picks are announced, if he can continue to elevate his stock at the NFL Scouting Combine – but Easterling, the only other mock drafter surveyed who did a seven-round mock, has Holmes falling all the way to the draft’s final round.
Damon Webb, S
Easterling: Round 6, No. 168 overall, Denver Broncos
Easterling’s projection, the only mock draft that includes Webb in this roundup, would pair the former Ohio State safety with another former Buckeye defensive back, Bradley Roby, in the Broncos’ secondary.
Chris Worley, LB
Miller: Round 6, No. 189 overall, Jacksonville Jaguars
Miller projects Worley to be the last of eight Buckeyes off the board. After training for his pre-draft workouts in Orlando and participating in last month’s Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Worley would remain in Florida in this projection, joining a Jaguars defense that ranked second in the NFL in points and yards allowed per game this season.
Marcus Baugh, TE
Easterling: Round 7, No. 208 overall, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers appear likely to have an opening on their tight end depth chart, and Baugh could compete for that spot as a late-round draft pick. If this projection was to come true, Baugh would be the second Buckeye drafted by the Panthers in two years, following 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel.
Other Ohio State draft hopefuls
While J.T. Barrett is expected to garner some consideration as a potential selection in the late rounds of the draft, the former Buckeyes quarterback is not accounted for in any of these mock drafts. There will be 32 more spots added to the draft order once compensatory selections are announced, so that could bolster Barrett’s chances of finding a landing spot.
Other Buckeyes who were not included in these mocks but have hopes of being late-round draft picks include defensive tackles Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle, safety Erick Smith and special teamer Zach Turnure.