1. Spring practice started today. Aside from Terrelle Pryor, which player's development are you most closely monitoring?
Poe: Devier Posey. With Robiskie and Hartline gone and Ray Small’s issues, Posey has the speed, size, and intangibles you look for in a go-to receiver. He’s best friends with Pryor, and that can only help their situation.
Posey was last seen making a pretty good catch and run against Youngstown State and then kind of disappeared, sort of like Taurian Washington in 2007. Posey did, however, make it onto the field, even when he had roughly four receivers in front of him.
I would imagine that, in 2009, Ohio State will try to put together something that resembles an actual passing game and expect Pryor to throw more than 12 times per game.
That would be in comparison to 2008, when OSU scored in the second quarter and would attempt to run the clock out the entire second half. Depth chart (after spring) probably goes 1) Posey 2) Small 3) Sanzenbacher 4) Thomas 5) Carter 6) Everyone else.
Massey: Mike Adams' progression is the most important in my mind. Brewster is solid and will get better. Justin Boren is going to play and be very good.
If Adams wins the starting job (his to lose at this point) and plays up to expectations, Pryor will have a better line in front of him than last year.
We all desperately want Pryor's passing threat to improve to make his running threat truly lethal, but that is never going to happen if he has defenders crashing in on his blind side.
Pryor may be a phenomenal athlete but many dynamic quarterbacks have been shackled by poor offensive line play. And, the line's development is not just important to Pryor.
Beanie Wells ran for more than 1,000 yards last season in spite of the line. Think about a game like Northwestern, where he was forced to make something out of nothing. Herron is a nice back, but he is not going to produce like Wells did behind a sketchy line.
2. Which player will emerge from unheard of to potential playmaker during spring practice?
M: I will start with a position: cornerback. Aside from Chekwa, that position is wide open. Many assume that Andre Amos is ready to step and fulfill the promise he showed while shutting down Mario Manningham in a high school all-star game (I forget which one).
I also hear Shaun Lane's name thrown around but he seems to play more like a safety. I will take a flyer here with two names: Travis Howard or Orhian Johnson.
Both Florida kids would make the Buckeyes' cornerback duo hail from the Sunshine State. Both have Jenkins-esque height (6'1" and 6'2", respectively) and were billed as incredible athletes coming out of high school.
Howard is a pure corner while Johnson has flipped from QB to CB. Remember, despite the litany of great OSU cornerbacks in recent years most of them have not been high-profile recruits so Johnson would fit right in.
PM: How about ‘forgotten about’ rather than unheard of? Jake Stoneburner or Grant Schwartz. Stoneburner redshirted and is expected to play the fancy “Flex TE” position.
Now I know what you’re thinking, Ohio State + Tight End = offensive lineman. Well it might change with Stoneburner, at 6’5” 230 pounds and as fast as a receivers (think Travis Beckum; hopefully).
And if it doesn’t change with him, Ohio State should really just scrap the TE position entirely. Grant Schwartz has switched positions a couple times, but his HS film is almost too good to be buried on the depth chart FOR-EV-ER. He seems like a Sanzenbacher clone and might get lost in the shuffle.
3. The NFL Draft is coming up in 6 weeks; who is the best Ohio State player in the NFL right now?
PM: That’s a toughy with Orlando Pace, Winfield, and Joey Galloway getting old, Terry Glenn and Eddie George retired, and everyone else just kind of minding their business.
With all the NFL draft picks Tressel has produced in his time in Columbus, none of them have been considered “superstars.”
AJ Hawk has been a mixed bag, Carpenter rides the pine, Chris Gamble is quality, but some have just left football entirely. It may be too early to tell between the newest crop of players (Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, etc).
My pick: Nick Mangold or Santonio Holmes. Mangold isn’t flashy, and Holmes just won Super Bowl MVP, so it’s Holmes. He might not be the squeaky clean ambassador you’d like to have, but he is the most visible.
M: Right away, Mike Vrabel jumps to mind but they may be the result of the Patriots' crazy success during his time there more than anything. If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have said Will Smith for certain.
But now that he is the highest-paid Buckeye in the league he seems to have lost the edge (and there was the diuretic episode last season). Santonio Holmes looked amazing in the Super Bowl, but his 2008-09 season was underwhelming. Trust me, he was on my fantasy team.
Antoine Winfield is still a great player and Donte Whitner has justified his high selection when he has been healthy.
As many OSU offensive lineman as there have been drafted recently, Mangold is the only one that stands out as a perennial top player.
All of the special teams guys have been busts. If I had to rank 'em: (1) Vrabel, (2) Holmes, (3) Mangold.