BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino
The first marquee matchup of the season in the Big Ten conference is scheduled for Saturday night,as No. 23-ranked Wisconsin travels to Columbus to take on No. 4 Ohio State. The Badgers are looking to snap the Buckeyes’ 16-game win streak, but Ohio State has defeated Wisconsin in five of the teams’ last 6 meetings.
The game will have big implications on who wins the Big Ten Leaders Division this season, but will also be a showcase for a number of potential early-round 2014 NFL draft selections.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State, Jr. (5’11’’, 192lbs)
Roby is putting together the resume of an early first-round pick. Roby had already started 25 games for the Buckeyes entering his junior season. In 2012, Roby had 19 passes defended, with a nation-best rate of 1.73 passes defended per game, to go along with two interceptions.
Roby has five interceptions in his first two playing seasons for the Buckeyes.
His speed and athletic ability is evident. His movements are extremely fluid and explosive. Whether he is covering, blitzing or chasing down ball carriers, his athletic ability and explosiveness are elite.
Roby has complete coverage ability. He can naturally mirror his receiver and is a pure cover corner. I like him best in off-man coverage, in which he can utilize his ability to drive off his back foot and break on the football, or use his speed and athleticism to stay connected to his man down the field. When he does get beat, he has great recovery speed. Roby has great ball skills to go along with his coverage ability, and he can perfectly time his breaks on the football.
Should Roby declare for the 2014 Draft, I would have him at the top of my cornerback rankings. He will almost certainly be a high first-round selection.
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State, Jr. (6’2’’, 230lbs)
Shazier started the final three games of his freshman season and then exploded onto the scene as a sophomore with 115 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, and 11 pass defenses. The numbers are a testament to the playmaker that Shazier is.
Instantly when studying his film, I see a player with great ability to read and react. He can quickly dissect plays and get there with great speed and quickness. He is a good, physical wrap-up tackler.
He avoids blocks well and gets through traffic to make plays. He has sideline-to-sideline playmaking range. Additionally, he is very natural dropping into coverage and making plays on throws.
The only flaw I see in Shazier’s game right now is a slight tendency to over pursue. His game is predicated on reacting quickly and utilizing his athleticism to get to plays. This leads to over running plays and whiffing on tackles because of poor positioning. As he becomes more comfortable in the scheme this year, I anticipate him improving in this capacity.
At 230 pounds, Shazier looks the part of a 4-3 outside linebacker. Given his playmaking ability and athleticism, he looks like a first-round selection should he declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State, Sr. (6’6’’, 308lbs)
After starting 25 consecutive games for the Buckeyes between guard and tackle the last two seasons, Mewhort has found a home at the left tackle spot. The senior is showing he belongs to be ranked among the top tackles in the 2014 draft class.
Mewhort excels in a number of areas that make him part of that conversation. What I like most about Mewhort’s game is his ability to extend his arms, run his feet and drive people off the line. He has great inside hand placement and his technique is consistent. It is apparent Mewhort has a solid mean streak and blocks with tenacity in the run game.
The concern I have with Mewhort is his slow feet. He is susceptible to getting beat by speed rushes off the edge and by pass-rushers with a good inside counter move. As a result, scouts may look at him as an interior lineman rather than an offensive tackle.
He is well-balanced and can redirect opponents, but not with the quickness desired in a tackle. That said, he is a smart player who adjusts well to blitzes and understands the sources of pressure.
He is an experienced blocker from a great program with decent physical ability. He could rise up the draft board if his foot speed develops during his senior season.
Go to page 2 to read about Wisconsin’s top prospects in Saturday’s game.