COLUMBUS, Ohio — With a nation-high 14 players invited to last month's NFL Scouting Combine, Ohio State knew it was in for a special day in what Urban Meyer called an "unprecedented" pro day.
And what a spectacle it was.
Representatives from all 32 NFL teams—including multiple head coaches and general managers—flocked to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Friday to watch a total of 22 prospects attempt to better their NFL hopes. Of the crop of talented ex-Buckeyes, seven currently project as first-round picks, according to Bleacher Report NFL draft lead writer Matt Miller, with two others slotted to land in the second round.
"This is as big of a pro day probably in the history of the NFL and Ohio State," Meyer said midway through the exhibition.
With a handful of players having already excelled at the combine in Indianapolis, not every prospect participated in all of Friday's workouts. And while Ohio State doesn't release official results, below is the best collection of unofficial information that could be gathered on Friday.
Ben Axelrod @BenAxelrod
Ohio State's pro day is a circus https://t.co/f8LwyqISZv3/11/2016, 2:39:31 PM
|2016 Ohio State Pro-Day Results for Key Prospects|
|Player||40-Yard Dash||Bench Press||Broad Jump|
|Vonn Bell||N/A (did run)||N/A||N/A|
|Adolphus Washington||N/A (did run)||N/A||N/A|
|All times unofficial. Gathered from interviews, various sources.|
Jones-ing for a Shot
After being unable to participate in extensive workouts at the combine because of a hamstring injury, Friday's pro day was especially important for quarterback Cardale Jones. After an up-and-down 2015 that saw him saw him move in and out of the Buckeyes' starting lineup, the national championship-winning quarterback had plenty to prove in his last significant action before individual team workouts begin.
"The stakes are already high," Jones said after his workout.
Attempting 82 passes in 31 minutes, according to ESPN's Austin Ward, Jones put on quite the show in what felt like the main event of Friday's festivities. Throwing to his former teammates and fellow NFL hopefuls, the 6'5", 250-pound Jones wasn't shy to put the deep ball that helped him carry the Buckeyes to the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship on display.
Buckeye Videos+ @BuckeyeVideos
Cardale Jones is out here throwing lasers!!! #GoBucks #BuckeyeNation https://t.co/4ggFC1C0W63/11/2016, 5:13:22 PM
In addition to his cannon-like arm, Jones also hoped to show that he was more than just a one-trick pony during his workout.
"That was one of my main focus points of today, showing touch and accuracy," Jones said. "I don’t think anyone in their right mind would question my arm strength."
Grading his efforts as a B-plus on the day, it remains to be seen just how much Jones helped or hurt his draft stock with his pro-day performance. Of all the Ohio State prospects, Jones might be the toughest player to pin a projection to, as he could land anywhere from the second day of the draft to potentially going undrafted.
"I don't feed into all that," the Cleveland native insisted. "I just want to get my foot in the door."
Braxton Back in Action
After running a relatively disappointing 4.50-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, quarterback-turned-wideout Braxton Miller set out to prove that he is indeed one of the draft's fastest players.
Based on the 40 time he ran on Friday, it'd be tough to argue otherwise, as the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year clocked in with an unofficial—and, if accurate, blazing—4.35.
"Just show that I wasn’t a 4.5 at the combine," Miller said of his pro-day goal. "My speed, I cherish that, I take pride in that, so I had to come out here and showcase what I did today."
With his speed no longer in question—as if it ever was—Miller remains a work in progress as a wideout as evidenced by his workout with Jones. On some routes, the 6'2", 210-pounder looked like the natural that he is, gliding down the field both before and after snagging impressive catches. On others, he looked like a player less than a year into playing the position on a full-time basis.
Hayden Grove @H_Grove
WR Braxton Miller's 40-yard dash at Ohio State's Pro Day. #Buckeyes https://t.co/QsYhnqOLO33/11/2016, 2:48:51 PM
Voted the Senior Bowl's most impressive player in practice by NFL executives, Miller has seemingly done nothing but boost his draft stock throughout the past few months. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller currently projects the Cincinnati Bengals to take him in the first round with the draft's No. 24 pick.
Still with plenty to polish as a route-runner, Miller will ultimately be drafted more on his potential than anything else. But after Friday, this much is certain: The ability is there—and so is the speed.
"I've never ran a 4.5. I've never ran that. That’s why I was so upset," Miller said of his combine time. "Something isn’t right with that laser timer."
Bosa's Big Day
Of all of the sights in Columbus on Friday, perhaps the most interesting didn't come from a former Buckeye but a future one.
In town to support his brother, Ohio State signee and 2016 5-star prospect Nick Bosa watched from the sideline as Joey Bosa ran through drills. Breaking Meyer's cardinal rule of wearing blue in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the younger Bosa donned both a shirt and hat representing the Tennessee Titans, who just so happen to hold the NFL draft's No. 1 pick.
Ben Axelrod @BenAxelrod
Urban Meyer and Nick Bosa https://t.co/FRJAX4rahV3/11/2016, 4:13:44 PM
"That was his idea," Nick and Joey's father, John Bosa, a first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1987, said of his younger son's wardrobe choice.
Having seen his draft stock seemingly slip in the past few weeks after a ho-hum combine performance, Bosa looked good on Friday, improving both his bench press (28 reps) and 40-yard dash (4.78, per the NFL Network). In his latest mock, Matt Miller had the All-American defensive end sliding to the Baltimore Ravens at the No. 6 pick after he entered the draft process in contention for its No. 1 overall slot.
Joey Bosa can FLY. #OhioStateProDay https://t.co/1hM6uiDjiV3/11/2016, 3:53:14 PM
With more than a month left until the draft's first round on April 28, Bosa has plenty of time to further better his draft stock as he appeared to do on Friday.
And while the younger Bosa may ultimately have to invest in a new selection of NFL team gear come the draft, it will only be a few more years until he's the one garnering all of the attention at the Ohio State pro day.
Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
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