Ohio State Football: Which Former Buckeye Will Make Biggest Impact in the NFL?

David Regimbal@davidreg412Featured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2013

Oct 15, 2011; Champaign, IL, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Jake Stoneburner (11) scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Seven former Ohio State football players made their way to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis last week to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine, and though the event isn't scheduled to conclude until Tuesday, the Buckeyes have been well-represented so far.

Jake Stoneburner helped his cause immensely with his performance this weekend. Although he finished in the middle of the pack on the bench press, Stoneburner notched the third-fastest 40-yard dash (4.65 seconds), the fifth-highest vertical and broad jumps (34.5", 116") and the fastest 20-yard and 60-yard shuffles (4.27 seconds, 11.5 seconds).

Reid Fragel also helped his cause with an impressive outing, showing off his strength with 33 reps on the bench press—most among offensive tackle prospects.

Fullback/linebacker Zach Boren, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, linebacker Etienne Sabino, defensive end John Simon and defensive end Nathan Williams are also showing off what they have to offer NFL teams in Indianapolis.

But when the combine ends and the NFL draft comes and goes, which of the eligible former Buckeyes will make the biggest impact on the league in the years to come?

Hankins certainly has a case.

The massive defensive tackle is the highest-rated prospect coming out of Columbus and is projected to be drafted somewhere in the mid-to-late first round. His speed and ability to get after the passer despite playing on the interior make him a very valuable prospect, on top of the fact that he could play multiple positions along the defensive line.

Simon and Williams were Ohio State's best pass-rushers last year, but there are potential issues with both players.

Simon isn't built like a prototypical defensive end, lacking the size to consistently play on the edge on Sundays. Most teams would require a switch to linebacker, and unless he sheds 20 pounds and improves his pass coverage, there might not be a spot for Simon outside of a situational pass-rusher in the NFL.

Williams showed flashes of brilliance his entire career at Ohio State, but injuries derailed him for long stretches in college. If he can stay healthy and lands on the right team, Williams could have a solid career coming off the edge.

Boren and Sabino were solid linebackers at Ohio State, but neither are projected to have similar success at the position in the NFL.

Boren could grow into a solid player, but his half-season at the position makes him the most inexperienced linebacker prospect in the country. Teams could buy into Boren as a general prospect and develop him as either a linebacker or work him back to offense and his original fullback position. 

Stoneburner, however, could shine in the NFL.

The tight end has the speed and athleticism to give defenses fits, and in a system that actually targets tight ends in the passing game, he could thrive. Stoneburner would likely need to work on his run-blocking, but with a year or two in the league, that shouldn't be a problem.

As it stands now, Hankins and Stoneburner have the best shots to go on and have successful NFL careers. 

Do you agree or do you think one of the other combine invites has the highest ceiling? Or maybe combine snubs like Travis Howard and Orhian Johnson will go on to shine in the NFL.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.


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