Monday was another one of those days where it went down on the Buckeye beat.
- 2020 OT Jake Wray, brother of early enrollee Max Wray, committed.
- What the Buckeyes landed in their first 2020 prospect.
- Wray discusses commitment: "I immediately fell in love with the school."
- Film Study: Replacing J.T. Barrett in short-yardage situations.
- Running back Antonio Williams announced he'll transfer to North Carolina.
- Greg Schiano immediately saw NFL-talent in Denzel Ward.
- Damon Webb, Chris Worley, Tracy Sprinkle and J.T. Barrett just need one team to believe in them.
- Ohio State-centric NFL Draft prop bets.
- Better Know a Buckeye: Jeremy Ruckert, the most talented tight end ever signed by Urban Meyer.
- Reserve your (or your business’) spot next to the life-size statue of Woody Hayes coming to Newcomerstown!
Word of the Day: Dalliance.
DEPTH CHARGE. Much fanfare will be made about defensive end depth on the 2018 football team. Don't sleep on the beasts in the middle, though.
Though Meyer's have lacked that fabled 0-technique defensive tackle, teams generally don't have success running up the middle against the Buckeyes. And this year's forecast looks no different, as Larry Johnson has a versatile and deep stable of Pokémon to deploy throughout the battles to come.
Defensive tackle depth is the best in Meyer’s tenure
That’s a lot of words about the defensive ends, but this is probably also the best group of defensive tackles that Meyer and Larry Johnson have had at Ohio State. Dre’Mont Jones is the clear leader of the group, presenting a pass rushing challenge nearly equal to the defensive ends.
But beside Jones is an incredibly deep group of tackles. This rotating group includes Robert Landers, Davon Hamilton, Antwuan Jackson (who didn’t play in the spring game), Haskell Garrett, and early enrollee Tommy Togiai. Togiai, who has a lot of talent ahead of him experience-wise, became the first freshman to lose his black stripe from the 2018 class. Oh, and the top-rated 2018 defensive tackle, Taron Vincent, is coming this summer. These players will provide pass rushing pressure up the middle, but importantly they’ll also clog running lanes and free linebackers to make plays.
No college team has an elite lineman at every offensive position. By definition, there is a weak link on every line. This year the Buckeyes will be able to abuse any link at any position with multiple players. It's one of the greatest advantages in football and the biggest reason I'm bullish on this team.
TRAIN CAN RUN, TOO. Urban Meyer would probably ask Peyton Manning to run 5-10 times a game. That's just part of his DNA.
Dwayne Haskins is not yet an NFL Hall of Famer, and he'll still be asked to run the ball. He knows it, too.
But just as Cardale Jones showed in that three-game postseason stretch, even the strong-armed quarterbacks are still going to have to run the ball.
While Haskins would rather throw the ball, that doesn’t mean he is an unwilling runner. It just means he’s not Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett.
“I prefer to throw the ball,” Haskins said. “That’s how I always was ever since I was little, but I can run if needed to be. If I need to skip the pocket, if I need to maneuver, I can do that. It’s just that my first choice isn’t to run the ball. People think that I can’t run, but I can run. I’m not going to be as fast as Braxton or J.T., but I’m definitely gonna, if I gotta take off, I can take off.”
As Haskins showed in Ann Arbor, sleep on his legs at your peril. Teams will have to respect his arm on every down. If defenses blitz or show man coverage, he will torch them.
And his runs will have the same demoralizing effect as Cardale Jones' rumbling runs.
SCOUTS ON HAPPY JAMARCO. Last year, I said NFL teams were asleep at the wheel with Pat Elflein's draft stock. Elflein went on to make the All-Rookie team.
This year's candidate is Jamarco Jones, for whom I have labeled as a future first-round pick since he replaced Taylor Decker at left tackle. At least one professional disagrees.
From The Athletic ($):
4. OL Jamarco Jones: “I think he started playing a lot tougher in the last half of the season, but he's an athletic guy who is long and plays on the edge of the offensive line. He did a great job playing left tackle against some really good pass rushers in the Big Ten who Ohio State has played. I think he's probably best-suited at right tackle in the NFL. The biggest question with him is how nasty is he? Can he consistently finish and be very tough in the run game? He was very successful in college, and I don't see him sliding past pick 55.”
ROUND PROJECTION: Middle of the second.
Perhaps christening "Happy Jamarco" was not a boon for his draft stock. For NFL teams, I guess it will depend on how much weight they put in "nastiness." Mr. Miyagi wasn't nasty. He could still whip that ass, though.
Here's another take on Jones, with video:
A lot to like about Jamarco Jones. One of the only OTs I’ve seen vertical set as often as he does, which he is very efficient and smooth with. Needs to work on building his house & transitioning to anchor, but shows good strike variation/timing to win reps early. pic.twitter.com/icn86M4Eeo— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) April 19, 2018
It seems like the Cleveland Browns haven't had a competent right tackle since their gallant return in 1999. If Billy Price is already gone at the top of the second, they should take Jones.
NO FLY ZONE. Another Buckeye in danger of landing in Cleveland is Denzel Ward at No. 4. The man is his own island:
Where Denzel Ward won in 2017 pic.twitter.com/QPKiJHY9fO— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 23, 2018
Ward is built for the new pass-friendly era in the NFL. The stats don't lie (unless I need them to). Ward isn't resting on his tape, though.
Denzel Ward has earned my respect. The Ohio State cornerback had a tweaked ankle at the combine and left without doing some of the traditional athletic drills, including the 20-yard short shuttle. One team wanted that short shuttle. This team told Ward it needed the shuttle to complete its evaluation. A rep of the team told Ward he could even just find a friend to take a cellphone video of Ward doing the shuttle, and send it to the team. The team heard nothing back. Finally, on Saturday, the coach for this team got a ping on his smart phone. It was from Ward, with a slightly shaky video of him doing the short shuttle on an empty field somewhere. I doubt this team picks him, but it says something about Ward completing this task that’s impressive.
That's the type of guy who will succeed from Day 1 in the NFL.
HERE COMES MR. MONEY. The New England Patriots probably filled out their first-round draft card three weeks ago. It's a match seemingly selected by Destiny herself.
And since we won't have Buckeye football for another four months, here are three minutes of Hubbard wrecking worlds:
Damn you, Bill Belichick. You're getting a good one.
THOSE WMDs. All the novels I almost wrote... Why so many people make their password "dragon"... Cache of Ben Franklin's original manuscripts—doodles and all—gets digitized... Reading Across America: A book for every state... Which Viking god are you?