Tuesday's pro day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center will be one of the most anticipated Ohio State pro days ever.
In a normal year, most of the former Buckeyes working out at pro day would have already had a chance to impress talent evaluators at the NFL Scouting Combine about a month ago. Because the on-field workout portion of this year’s combine was canceled, and NFL teams aren't allowed to conduct private workouts this year, Tuesday will be the only opportunity for many of Ohio State’s draft prospects to work out for NFL scouts this spring.
Fourteen Ohio State draft prospects received invitations to this year’s combine, the most of any school, and the vast majority of them will be working out on Tuesday, which should lure representatives from all 32 NFL teams to Columbus.
The headline attraction of Tuesday’s pro day, of course, is Justin Fields. The most anticipated pro days of the year are typically those featuring first-round quarterbacks, and Tuesday will be Fields’ chance – as he jockeys for draft position with BYU’s Zach Wilson, Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance – to make his case for why he should be one of this year’s top picks.
That effort will start in the 40-yard dash, where Fields looks to put rare speed on a display. Fields posted a video on social media earlier this month in which he ran a 4.41-second 40 and proclaimed that he would run in the 4.3-second range on Tuesday, which would be one of the fastest 40 times ever for a quarterback.
Had to let em know. Ill be in the 4.3s by Pro Day.. pic.twitter.com/6JcFCqGVaJ— Justin Fields (@justnfields) March 19, 2021
Fields’ 40 time probably won’t have much impact on where he gets drafted – we already know he’s fast – but every team considering drafting him will be keeping a close eye on his passing workout, where he’ll look to demonstrate his ability to make every throw he’ll need to make in the NFL. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Fields’ workout will feature “a 65-throw script” that’s designed “to showcase how capable he is of throwing out of any situation.”
From Breer on Monday:
“Fields will start with four quick throws from under center and then the gun to show how fast he can get rid of the ball, and that’ll give way to a 65-throw script. There’ll be under-center throws that mirror what is typically done at the combine, staple throws from Ohio State’s offense, throws with NFL play-action concepts, and some movement throws. Then, there’ll be a few where space is shut down around him, and he has to plant his feet and throw out of a ‘crowded’ area.”
One thing that’s for certain: Any NFL representative who approaches Ryan Day at Tuesday’s event to ask him about Fields will receive a glowing review of the former Ohio State quarterback.
“The sky’s the limit for Justin Fields, and I don’t think anyone can argue that,” Day said Monday. “Whether he’s ready-made to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, that’s up to them. Every team has to make their own decision. But I know this, everything you invest in that kid, you’re gonna get back. And it’s just a matter of the fit. But when you start to go through all the different traits that he has, to me, he checks all the boxes. And he’s a wonderful young man. So I think someone’s gonna take a shot at him here early in the draft, and they’re gonna have a franchise quarterback for a long time.”
While Fields is the Buckeyes’ only sure-fire first-round pick in the 2021 draft class, more than a dozen other participants at Ohio State’s pro day will be looking to steal the show. Defensive tackle Tommy Togiai is looking to break the NFL Scouting Combine record by lifting 225 pounds 50 times on the bench press. Running back Trey Sermon is looking to put his speed on display by running a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash. Linebacker Baron Browning’s physical attributes make him a top candidate to shine on the pro day stage, while guard Wyatt Davis and linebacker Pete Werner are among the other Buckeyes who could cement themselves as early-round picks with strong performances.
At least 12 of the 14 Buckeyes who were invited to the combine are expected to work out on Tuesday, also including tight end Luke Farrell, defensive end Jonathon Cooper, linebackers Tuf Borland and Justin Hilliard, kicker Blake Haubeil and punter Drue Chrisman. Defensive back Shaun Wade is delaying his pro day workout until April 14 due to a lingering turf toe injury. Center Josh Myers, who is dealing with a turf toe injury of his own, was not included on the original list of participants distributed by Ohio State on Monday, but an Ohio State spokesperson said Tuesday that Myers is in attendance and will be a limited participant.
Ohio State's 2021 Pro Day Participants
LB TUF BORLAND
LB BARON BROWNING
P DRUE CHRISMAN
DE JONATHON COOPER
G WYATT DAVIS
TE LUKE FARRELL
QB JUSTIN FIELDS
K BLAKE HAUBEIL
TE JAKE HAUSMANN
LB JUSTIN HILLIARD
C JOSH MYERS
WR C.J. SAUNDERS
RB TREY SERMON
DT TOMMY TOGIAI
LB PETE WERNER
Every one of those Buckeyes has a legitimate chance to be drafted – or at worst, be signed by an NFL team as an undrafted free agent – and a strong showing on Tuesday could go a long way toward elevating any of their draft stocks.
Two other former Buckeyes who will also be participating in Tuesday’s event are former Ohio State wide receiver C.J. Saunders and tight end Jake Hausmann. Saunders hasn’t played in a game since 2018, as he missed the entire 2019 season with a knee injury and was not granted an extra year of NCAA eligibility to play in 2020, while Hausmann caught just three passes in his Ohio State career, so they’ll need big showings on Tuesday to garner consideration from NFL teams.
Altogether, Tuesday’s annual event will serve the dual purpose of giving Ohio State’s draft prospects an opportunity to showcase their skills for a large crowd of NFL talent evaluators while also serving as a recruiting pitch to high school players with their own NFL aspirations. And Day believes it can serve as an example to his current players, as well, that NFL scouts could soon be looking at them.
More Coverage of Ohio State's Draft Prospects
- Shaun Wade's Journey to the NFL
- Tommy Togiai on Entering Draft: “Probably the Hardest Decision I've Made So Far in My Life”
- C.J. Saunders Taking Aim at NFL Career After Coaching at Ohio State Last Season
- Justin Hilliard “Still Shooting to Be the Best Linebacker in the Country”
- Drue Chrisman Still Training at Ohio State, Enhancing Punting Skills
“These guys that you grow up watching in the NFL, you look up to them and you watch them and it’s like, ‘Wow, that seems like miles away.’ And then some of the teammates that you played with a few months ago are now going into the NFL and going into the draft, so you realize that it’s right around the corner, and you have to have urgency about you, because they’re gonna be in that same spot here soon, and they’re going to have that opportunity,” Day said.
Big Ten Network, NFL Network and ESPN will all provide televised coverage of Tuesday’s event. BTN’s broadcast will at 1 p.m., when Tuesday’s drills are scheduled to start, and will continue until at least 3 p.m. or whenever pro day concludes. NFL Network will also be airing pro day coverage between noon and 3 p.m., while ESPN’s Louis Riddick will have live reports from the Woody Hayes Athletic Center throughout the day.
Due to capacity restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, local media outlets will not be permitted to attend this year’s pro day. Nonetheless, stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for full coverage of Tuesday’s event as we’ll be reporting from home on how the Buckeyes perform.