Ohio State Should Be Well Represented in 2014 NFL Draft
When the Indianapolis Colts selected Justice Cunningham of South Carolina with the 254th pick in the NFL draft on Saturday, it signaled the end of a disappointing weekend for a number of former Ohio State Buckeyes.
Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (second round to the New York Giants), defensive end John Simon (fourth round to the Baltimore Ravens) and offensive tackle Reid Fragel (seventh round to the Cincinnati Bengals) were the only three Buckeyes drafted over the weekend.
Seven others—Zach Boren, Garrett Goebel, Travis Howard, Orhian Johnson, Etienne Sabino, Jake Stoneburner and Nathan Williams—signed free-agent deals with various NFL teams shortly after the draft ended.
According to Marcus Hartman of BuckeyeSports.com, it was an uncharacteristically down year for Buckeyes in the draft:
2013 3-man NFL draft class matches Ohio State's smallest of past 15 years (also 2008, '05). None in '98— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 28, 2013
Looking ahead to next year's draft, though, it's hard to imagine Ohio State having a similar output.
When you include the potential of a few early departures, there could be as many as 10 Buckeyes drafted in 2014.
The four soon-to-be seniors along Ohio State's offensive line—left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Corey Linsley and right guard Marcus Hall—all stand a pretty good chance of getting drafted next year.
Mewhort and Norwell are almost certain draft picks as the anchor of Ohio State's offense. If both Linsley and Hall continue to grow under offensive line coach Ed Warriner's tutelage, NFL teams won't be able to ignore them next April.
The Buckeyes will also have a number of skill-position players available. Running back Carlos Hyde is a bruiser that will likely get drafted somewhere in the middle rounds alongside receiver Corey Brown.
On the defensive side, Ohio State will offer a pair of safeties with a ton of playing experience in C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant. At this point, Bryant is the better prospect of the two, but both could do themselves a favor by proving more consistent in coverage.
Two underclassmen, though, could be Ohio State's best pro prospects next year.
Both linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby have the talent to skip their senior seasons in favor of the 2014 NFL draft.
Shazier is an instinctive linebacker who's physical against the run and possesses the speed to be good in coverage. Roby, who might have been Ohio State's best pro prospect this year, could be a top-10 pick in next year's draft if he continues to lock down receivers like he did in 2012.
Whether those two opt out of their senior seasons for the NFL or not, the Buckeyes will most certainly have a better showing in the 2014 draft.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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