2019 NFL Draft: Ohio State's two Round 1 defensive linemen and supremely gifted corner
Nick Bosa takes center stage in Columbus, but the Buckeyes have a group of intriguing draft prospects
The ominous cloud of the Zach Smith - Urban Meyer saga still hovers over Columbus, Ohio just weeks before the start of the Buckeyes' 2018 season and one month before the monstrous showdown in Dallas against TCU.
As usual, a bevy of highly sought after draft prospects will take the field for Ohio State this season, regardless of who's on the sideline.
Let's assess the Buckeyes' top 2019 Draft prospects.
Nick Bosa, EDGE
What else can I say about Bosa before the college football season gets underway? . My pro comparison for him is ... his brother. He's a stud. I couldn't locate a clear-cut hole in his game. He's twitchy, decently bendy, utilizes his hands well at the point of attack, plays with power, and has a relentless motor.
With a quarterback class lacking the star power of the 2018 group, he has a real shot to be the second edge-rusher to be grabbed with the top pick in the draft in the past three years. I expect a boost in production from his 8.5-sack, 16.0-tackle-for-loss campaign in 2017. Joey might have been slightly more athletic. Nick seems stronger.
Dre'Mont Jones, DT
Jones won't check the production box just yet, as he mustered just one sack and five tackles for loss in his redshirt sophomore season. However, his length, hip fluidity and mastery-level hand usage make him an exquisite fit as an inside rusher at the NFL level. Think Dominique Easley.
In obvious passing situations, Jones is a menace. He can win with speed off the ball and rarely allows offensive linemen to control him thanks to his long, active -- and powerful -- arms. About a five-to-seven years ago, Jones would've probably been cast as a "tweener" with no real position in the pros. Now, with nickel being the NFL's base defense, the 6-foot-3, 285-pounder is your prototypical nickel defensive tackle to attack upfield.
Yes, I'm a big proponent of the idea that college production (typically) translates to the NFL. There's always a few exceptions. Jones is one of them. His skills are considerably more impressive than his 2017 stat line. Anyway, he's bound to hit double-digits in the tackle-for-loss department, and it'll be nearly impossible for him to not have multiple sacks in 2018. Even if I'm wrong with that stat prediction, and he sinks into the second or even third round, Jones will make some pro team look very smart that grabs him later in the draft.
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Parris Campbell, WR/RB
Tavon Austin and Denard Robinson -- both otherworldly college players -- kind of ruined the reputation of the NFL term "offensive weapon." Campbell might try to revive that term once he starts collecting a paycheck for his work on the football field.
He caught 40 passes for 584 yards with three receiving scores in 2017 and took 10 carries for 132 yards and a score. At around 6-1 and 210 pounds, Campbell has outside receiver size and is a burner once he finds open grass. Noticeably quick-twitch movement skills to make defenders miss with lateral cuts? Ehhh. That part of his game has yet to be developed.
And that lends itself to the more widespread issue with Campbell. He's a good-sized, linear speedster who probably needs to have touches -- in space -- manufactured for him to thrive in the NFL. A smart coordinator will be able to do that. If he's pigeon-holed into a "traditional" wideout role, I doubt he'll ever meet expectations as a pro. What is good for Campbell -- and all these prospects -- is that he has a full college season to show everyone a more diverse skill set than what was put on display last season.
Sheffield's story is loaded with football prestige. In 2015, he was the No. 20 overall recruit and the No. 4 cornerback in the country according to 247 Sports. Impressive. He decided on Alabama, the preeminent NFL draft factory. Sheffield was well on his way. But after a redshirt year, he decided to transfer. He landed at Blinn Community College -- the same program that once housed Cam Newton -- and played his way to being the No. 1 JUCO cornerback in the land.
Sheffield chose Ohio State, and saw his first action on the field in 2017. He made 40 tackles for the Buckeyes and defended nine passes. His spring-loaded movement skills pop on every snap, as does his speed. Many times, he showcased keen awareness when the ball was arriving but, unfortunately for him, had receivers make fantastic grabs in those contested-catch situations.
Also, Sheffield showed urgency in zone, and his click-and-close quickness is first-round caliber. He'll have to make a big jump to assert himself as the "alpha" corner at Ohio State this season, and I think he can do just that. He's supremely talented. The Buckeyes have had six defensive backs selected in Round 1 of the last five drafts. Unreal. Sheffield has a chance to be the next.
Isaiah Prince, OT
Prince has played in 40 games and started the last 27 for the Buckeyes. At 6-7 and 310 pounds, he has NFL tackle size (and length). He's always played with a mean streak and consistently demonstrated patience with his punch in pass protection last season.
The noticeable ding on Prince is his lack of, as scouting folk like to say ... "sand in the pants." For as bulky and powerful as he is up top, he's not very thick in his lower half, which hurts him on occasion when facing bull rushers. Prince has above-average athleticism when asked to combo block.
With better anchoring strength in 2018, and another relatively clean season paving lanes for the run and as a pass-blocker, he could go on Day 2 of the 2019 Draft.
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