BBD Editor: Dan Hope
15 potential 2014 NFL draft picks from Ohio State, plus a 2013 undrafted free agent and at least one prospect from another school, participated in Friday morning’s 2014 OSU Pro Day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
The crowd included Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
In total, representatives from all 32 teams—approximately 80 NFL coaches, scouts and/or administrative personnel, according to an OSU press release—were on hand to watch a promising group of prospects, each of whom participated in Friday’s event to a varying degree.
The Buckeyes’ top prospect might have also been its top headline-grabber at the event. After sitting out the 40-yard dash and on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine while nursing an injured hamstring, outside linebacker and projected first-round pick Ryan Shazier had a chance to perform Friday that went both well and poorly.
On a positive note, Shazier was clocked as fast as 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash on Friday, an incredible time for a linebacker who said he weighed in at 237 pounds, his same weight from the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, according to NFL.com.
On that same run, however, Shazier re-strained his hamstring, according to an OSU athletics spokesman, and he was unable to participate in the rest of his drills.
Both of those points will be analyzed and likely over-analyzed. It is highly unlikely his “official” 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine would have been sub-4.4 seconds, as pro day hand times tend to be more than a tenth of a second faster than electronic times. That said, Shazier’s exact time isn’t very important. It’s already clear that he’s an exceptional athlete, and his hamstring injury is unlikely to stop that, considering it didn’t stop him from running a fast 40 on Friday or from vertically jumping a combine-best 42 inches on Feb. 24.
“I had strained my hamstring before the combine and I knew it wasn’t 100 percent, I just wanted to run today to let people see what I can do,” Shazier said in an interview following Friday’s event. “I rushed it, and I shouldn’t have did that.”
Despite the injury, Shazier felt like he did “exactly what (he) needed to do” by running a fast 40.
Bradley Roby + Defensive Backs
Shazier might be Ohio State’s best all-around prospect, but he might not be the first Buckeye selected in this year’s draft, as cornerback Bradley Roby is also very much in the first-round mix.
Roby stood on all of his combine numbers on Friday, but participated in the 60-yard shuttle for the first time, where I hand-timed him at 11.12 seconds, a time that would have been the third-best among defensive backs in Indianapolis.
Considering he dropped a few interceptions off his hands, the defensive back wasn’t quite as impressive in drills as he was in a standout performance at the combine. Still, Roby continued to show the backpedal speed, fluid hip flips and change-of-direction quickness that gives him star potential as an NFL cornerback and could make him a top-25 selection.
Roby did not speak with the media following Friday’s event.
Roby was joined in defensive back drills by C.J. Barnett and Corey “Pitt” Brown, the two starting safeties from last year’s OSU stretch run, while linebacker Etienne Sabino, a 2013 undrafted free agent who returned to OSU to work out Friday, also worked with the same group in on-field drills.
While all of the latter three are NFL long shots at this point, Brown was noticeably and consistently the worst among them in on-field drills. Brown struggled with change-of-direction transitions, often slipping to lose balance or speed, while catching the ball also looked unnatural.
Unfortunately for Brown, it’s not as if any of that comes as a surprise. He was a massive liability for OSU in the secondary after taking on a starting role in place of injured starter Christian Bryant, and he will be hard-pressed to even sign an undrafted free agent contract after the draft.
Speaking of Bryant, he was the only one of OSU’s 16 NFL prospects to completely sit out Friday’s showcase. Bryant, whose senior season ended prematurely when he broke his ankle in the fourth quarter against Wisconsin on Sept. 28, said Friday that he has been cleared to participate in all physical activity, but did not quite feel ready for a full workout in front of scouts.
“Right now I’m doing everything, I’m just not really trying to push it to that limit, to 100 percent right now because I’m not sure if my ankle can take that, just rushing through something right now,” Bryant said. “I’m just taking things slow, not trying to really rush anything.”
Offensive Weapons Put Skills on Display
Like Shazier, the Buckeyes’ top offensive prospect was also limited by a hamstring injury Friday. Running back Carlos Hyde, who is still recovering from a hamstring tweak while running his 40-yard dash at the combine Feb. 23, participated in on-field drills with the rest of OSU’s offensive skill-position players, but opted not to participate in any measurable drills.
That decision was a seemingly smart play for Hyde. While he certainly would have liked to have improved upon his 4.66-second 40-yard dash from his lone attempt at this year’s combine, he would have been doing himself a disservice to participate in the measurable drills at anything less than 100 percent healthy, as his times and measures could have been adversely affected by his injury.
While scouts in attendance might have been disappointed not to see Hyde get another crack at showcasing his straight-line speed, they should have been satisfied to see the running back perform impressively in on-field drills. Hyde dropped one pass out of his hands over the middle, but helped his stock as a receiver, for the most part, by showing good agility for the most part and looking natural as a route-runner out of the backfield.
Hyde did not speak with the media Friday.
Three other Buckeyes skill-position playmakers—running back Jordan Hall and wide receivers Chris Fields and Corey “Philly” Brown—caught both passes and punts while displaying their movement skills Friday.
Fields had a good showing, as he caught the ball consistently and showed speed and quickness, while putting up a good day measurables-wise with a 10’5” broad jump, 4.05-second 20-yard shuttle (hand time) and 11.42-second 60-yard shuttle (hand time). Fields said he was told his 40-yard dash time was in the low 4.5-second range.
Brown, who had a good all-around workout at the combine, carried his momentum into pro day. While he stood on his combine numbers in the measurable drills, he ran solid routes, showed speed and caught the ball cleanly in pass-catching drills. Additionally, he told reporters he weighed in at 184 pounds, a six-pound increase (good, in this case) from the combine.
Hall was more up-and-down than the receivers in his athleticism display, but he looked surprisingly fast getting down the field, quick breaking on routes and clean in catching the ball in his hands.
The problem for all three of these players is that their tape does not corroborate their impressive workouts. All of them seem to be better athletes than football players, and might not be dynamic enough in any capacity to make NFL rosters.
See page 2 for more information on where OSU quarterback Kenny Guiton has his first individual workout scheduled, analysis on how the offensive line performed today and thoughts on who Doug Whaley might have had his eyes on.
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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Andrew Norwell, Bradley Roby, C.J. Barnett, Carlos Hyde, Chris Fields, Christian Bryant, Corey Brown, Corey Linsley, Doug Whaley, Drew Basil, Etienne Sabino, George Makridis, Jack Mewhort, Jamie Meder, Jordan Hall, Kenny Guiton, Marcus Hall, Notes and Quotes, Ohio State, Philly Brown, Pitt Brown, Pro Day Spotlight, Pro Days, Ryan Shazier