The Ohio State Buckeyes are perennially one of the most consistent programs each year at churning out pro prospects. Each and every spring, OSU fans can expect multiple Buckeye names called in the NFL Draft, and 2014 was no different, with six being selected, including two first rounders. The 2015 class has a chance to challenge that number, especially if a few of the juniors decide to declare early. So who are the top 2015 NFL Draft prospects for the Buckeyes this fall? As usual, only players eligible for the ’15 Draft will be discussed, and since the Buckeyes have so much talent, we’ll break it up between offense and defense.
We’ll start on offense with senior QB Braxton Miller, who just might be the best in school history at his position. There’s no denying his career numbers (5,292 passing yards, 52/17 TD to INT ratio, 3,054 rushing yards, 32 TD’s) or his immense athleticism, but questions still exist regarding how effective of a passer he will be at the next level. He’s taken strides each year improving his accuracy (54.1%, 58.3% and 63.5%), and he’ll need to make a similar jump in ’14.
Putting up big stats will be a constant for whoever is under center in Urban Meyer’s offense, but scouts are going to want to see Miller sit back in the pocket a little more. He needs to show not only his ability to read defenses and prove touch and accuracy, but to avoid the big hits that constantly lead to injuries, which have forced him to miss time each year he’s been in Columbus.
I’m a big fan of senior TE Jeff Heuerman, who I think is one of the top prospects at his position nationally. He’s got size (6-foot 5, 255-pounds) and impressive athleticism, running a reported 4.6 40, pumping out a team-best 33-reps on 225 and a tallying a 36.5-inch vertical leap, making him a monster redzone target. His stats won’t blow you away, but TE’s aren’t really a focal point in this scheme. Heuerman has good hands, is a willing and capable blocker, and is a tremendous locker room presence. He receives glowing remarks from the staff about his work ethic, and Meyer has even dubbed him the ‘heart and soul’ of the Buckeyes. He’s struggled with injuries the past few years so staying healthy will be crucial in ’14.
Up front the top prospect is junior LT Taylor Decker, who really progressed during his sophomore season in ’13. Decker was tossed around in the season open by Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, but there’s a reason Mack was taken 5th overall in the past draft. Decker has always been strong in the run game but really took strides in pass pro after that opening performance, seeming to get stronger in the base, playing with better leverage and started using those long arms of his the right way. Skill set wise, there’s a lot to like with this kid, showing the length (6-foot 7, 315-pounds) and footwork you want in an edge protector at the next level. This fall will be his first year protecting the blindside, so his stock could really rise if he continues his developmental arc.
Remember, these are just a few of the top prospects on offense, and there are others to keep an eye on. WR Devin Smith is a track star on the outside, but needs to improve his consistency. Junior WR Corey Smith has drawn rave reviews for athleticism and playmaking in spring. Senior C Chad Lindsay is an Alabama transfer and will be counted on for veteran leadership in the middle of young line. Anyone who’s good enough to start for both the Tide and OSU merits pro consideration.