NFL coaches and executives were in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Tuesday with one objective in mind: Evaluating Ohio State's draft-bound players.
The former Buckeyes went through the 2021 pro day, and afterward a slew of them, along with head coach Ryan Day, joined the media to talk about everybody's performances. Justin Fields, Wyatt Davis, Jonathon Cooper, Tommy Togiai, Josh Myers, Trey Sermon, Justin Hilliard, Pete Werner, Blake Haubeil, Luke Farrell, Drue Chrisman and Baron Browning were the players who spoke to reporters.
A bullet-point rundown of what each of them said:
- On people criticizing him as a one-read quarterback: "There's no issue because I know what I do on the field." He says Ohio State had a lot of reads, with some being pure progressions and some not. He's not going to pass up his first or second read just to go through the progressions, he says. "At the end of the day, those people don't matter."
- Asked about the history of former Ohio State quarterbacks : "I don't know those guys personally. I don't know those guys' work ethic. ... In all honesty, I think I'm different than those guys." He says the only similarity is that they wore the same uniform. He'll focus on himself, he says.
- His pro day: "Overall, I had a solid day." He's "kind of mad" about not running a 40-yard dash in the 4.3s.
- Fields says he doesn't have plans tonight with NFL teams. He'll meet up with some of his former teammates
- He remembers Kyle Shanahan back when he worked in the QB Collective. Calls him "arguably one of the best coaches in the league."
- "I think my drive, my wanting to be great, my willingness to be great just comes from inside." He says he tries not to focus on external voices.
- Fields says he and BYU's Zach Wilson had a similar pro day script since they worked out in the same city and with the same quarterbacks coach (John Beck).
- He got injured at some point during the fourth game of the 2020 season and played hurt the rest of the way. "Rehab has definitely been the priority for me, especially with going down in the national championship game." He hit all his rehab goals. On the pro day: "I feel like I did a very good day of showing my knee is fine. It's back to 100 percent."
- He says pass protection technique has been a priority in the pre-draft process.
- Davis says he has thought about how it would be crazy if the guy who recruited him – Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer – picked him in the NFL draft. "He seemed like the same old coach Meyer (today)."
- Davis is proud that he put up 25 reps on the bench press, and thought he performed well in the offensive line drills today.
- Some NFL teams also see Cooper as see him as an outside linebacker. "I see myself playing Sam or outside linebacker, especially in a 3-4 defense." He says he hasn't shown much of that on film, but he wants to show scouts that he can drop back consistently.
- Cooper says he would love to play for Meyer in Jacksonville. "I don't see coach Meyer not being successful anywhere he goes."
- He'll train in Columbus before his NFL career begins later this year. "For the next month or two, I'm going to be working out here with coach Mick (Marotti)."
- On 40 bench press reps: "I'm a little disappointed. I feel like maybe I could do more. But 40's a good number."
- The possibility of playing for Meyer with the Jaguars: "That would be a great kind of opportunity for me just to be coached by him again."
- If he has the same mindset for a pro day as a game: "Similar, honestly. The mindset that's taken to this is the same mindset I would take in a game."
- Myers says he's sure Meyer's Jacksonville tenure will go well. "If Jacksonville drafts me, I'm more than excited to reunite with him."
- He had a turf toe injury in the Big Ten championship game and decided to play through it. He hurt it "significantly worse" in the Clemson game, then got surgery after the Alabama game. He broke a bone and had an avulsion of the tendon.
- On his pro day: "I felt like I did pretty good. I showed what I'm capable of, along with my game film. I'm happy with my performance. I'm not satisfied because I felt like I could have done better, but I'm happy."
- What he'll remember about Ohio State: "Just the practices, really. Just being with the guys and how they motivated me."
- How often NFL personnel people talk to him about his injuries: "That seems to be kind of a pattern after coaches get to know me." He tells them the facts, he says, but he doesn't see the injury issues keeping him from succeeding at the next level.
- He says he never lowered his goal of being the best linebacker in the country. "I think this is just the start for me."
- Hilliard says he talked to Meyer a lot today, but they didn't talk much about football. "I think he knows exactly how I'm about, how I go to work every day."
- He has been able to pick the brain of Luke Kuechly throughout the process, along with Joe Burrow and Nick Bosa.
- He says he and the other former Ohio State linebackers spent some time talking with Billy Davis, the Arizona Cardinals assistant.
- Werner says he's "very good at playing in space" but is fine fitting in at any spot.
- He thinks his best game as a Buckeye was 2020 vs. Indiana, and he'd put the Clemson game in the CFP up there. "I thought I did well in those two games."
- On not playing in the national title game: "It was really, really hard for me to sit out on that one."
- "I'm 100 percent healthy. ... Absolutely felt great today."
- He considered staying at Ohio State with his extra year of eligibility, but... "I'm very confident in the decision coming out this year."
- He wanted to show his versatility and what he's capable of in the pass game. "I think I'm the best blocking tight end in the draft."
- Farrell says Cade Stover is a "beast" which will become evident soon into his Ohio State career.
- On catching passes from Fields during the pro day: "He just makes it easy, really."
- He has been bouncing between working in Columbus and working with his kicking coach in Alabama.
- Chrisman has picked Cameron Johnston's brain in the pre-draft process.
- "I never had a bad time going up to East Lansing."
- The dream, he says, is to get drafted. But some years not a single punter gets picked.
- "I think it helped me a lot. I think they know my versatility, but I think they want to verify my (tests)."
- Browning had a 40-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-10 broad jump. Says he surprised himself with how well he jumped today.
- He says the majority of teams talk to him about a 3-4 stand-up outside linebacker, but one has talked to him about playing middle linebacker and another has talked about him playing defensive end.
- On pro day: "It's a unique setting." Early on, he says, there's always that "awkward quietness."
- About Fields' performance: "Anybody who was here got to see it live and in color just how talented he is."
- On if he has talked to teams about criticisms about Fields' progressions: "I haven't heard that from any of the NFL personnel." He says it'll be interesting to see actually where Fields goes in the draft because the teams' opinions are the only ones that ultimately matter.
- Day on Fields' deep throw to C.J. Saunders while rolling to his left: "As a former quarterback, I probably would have broken my hip throwing that."
- He says Fields is the most accurate down-the-field thrower he has seen.
- On Meyer being back in the building: "It was fun to see him here."
- Day says the ability for Baron Browning and Cooper to do different things will make them more valuable to NFL teams.
- He says he got a lot of positive feedback from NFL people about the performance on the field.
- Day says it's a "huge plus" for NFL teams that Sermon doesn't have much mileage. "He's young in terms of the amount of carries we had."