2018 NFL Draft Storylines by Trevor Arnold

Denzel Ward – 4th Overall

The Ohio kid is staying home! The first player coming off the draft board for the 2018 NFL Draft class for Ohio State is Denzel Ward.  Ward was selected 4th overall by the Cleveland Browns, who also selected Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick.  Ward is coming off being a one-year starter for the Buckeyes.  A position he saw Marshon Lattimore do a year earlier when he was taken 11th overall by the New Orleans Saints.  Ward now makes it three straight years where Ohio State has had a cornerback drafted in the first round.  A feat that hasn’t been done since Ohio State did it in 1999-2001.

Ward is coming off a stellar year for the Buckeyes.  He had 37 total tackles including 30 solo tackles.  Also, he had two interceptions with 15 pass breakups.  With Ward being the #1 CB in the class according to most analysts, being selected in the top 5 was still surprising.  The Cleveland Browns have not selected an Ohio State player since 2009 when they took Brian Robiskie in the second round.  They haven’t taken an Ohio State player in the first round since Craig Powell in the 1995 class, 30th overall.  This may shock some since Ohio State has had 10 first round draft picks since the 2014 draft class.

Ward is on the smaller side at only 5’10”, but possesses has elite speed, running a 4.32 40 yard dash, and has a 39-inch vertical jump.  Ward will look to use his skill set and pure athleticism to help the Browns return to the playoffs for the first time since 1994.

 

Billy Price – 21st Overall

 The Ohio kid is staying home 2.0!  Billy Price was selected 21st overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.  That makes both Ohio teams selecting Ohio State players in the first round.  Price was not able to participate in the NFL Combine after have a partial pectoral tear during the bench press.  Price was the nation’s top center in the 2017 season and was a unanimous first-team All-American.  This feat is impressive because Price was recruited out of high school when he played on the defensive line.  The Buckeyes moved Price to guard in 2014, 2015, and 2016 where he started every single game before moving to play center in 2017.

Price was mister consistent for Ohio State.  He took over the record for consecutive starts at 55 games passing Luke Fickell who previously held the record at 50.  Price helped lead the Buckeyes to 4 straight seasons inside of the top 20 for rushing yards.  Price is very quick and has great strength to help him control the defensive line.

Price’s versatility makes him a great selection for the Bengals.  With experience at both guard and center, and playing both at a high level, will allow him to get a chance to start immediately for Cincinnati.  Price will look to make an immediate impact and help the Bengals make the playoffs since 2015.

History in the Draft

For the first time there was 4 quarterbacks taken in the first 10 picks.

Baker Mayfield, out of Oklahoma, was taken 1st overall by the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns think they finally have their franchise quarterback.  Mayfield has the right attitude to take this team to the Super Bowl.  He is on the smaller side, listed at 6 feet, but has the skill set to be a good quarterback.  His 70% passing percentage is what will make him an NFL quarterback.  Mayfield is a blue collar guy who has fought for everything he has earned in his football career, and will make the perfect fit for the Cleveland Browns.

Sam Darnold, out of USC, was taken 3rd overall by the New York Jets.  The Jets have had many misses at quarterback throughout their draft history.  Their most recent draft misses were Geno Smith, Tajh Boyd, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg.  Darnold is looking to change their history of bad QB picks.  Darnold has the best upside of any of the quarterbacks in the 2018 class, according to most analysts.  His only downfall is his ability to protect the football with 22 interceptions and 21 fumbles in only 27 games.  The Jets are hoping that Darnold can be the guy to lead them back to the Super Bowl.

Josh Allen, out of Wyoming, was taken 7th by the Buffalo Bills.  The Bills traded up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to grab Josh Allen at 7th Overall.  Allen has elite arm strength, but has a hard time of being accurate consistently.  Allen has been in the news for tweets he made in high school which were racist and homophobic.  Allen owned up to them calling them a mistake because of his youth.  The Bills just signed AJ McCarron to a two-year deal which may delay Allen’s start to the NFL early on this upcoming season.  That could be great for him of not having the pressure to perform right away, and he can develop better accuracy.

Josh Rosen, out of UCLA, was taken 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals.  The Cardinals also traded up to get their quarterback of the future with the Oakland Raiders.  Rosen is best “Pro-Style” Quarterback in the draft.  He has a great arm, accuracy, and has great touch on the deep ball.  He does lack mobility, which seems to be the new era of quarterback in the NFL.  Rosen loves being the underdog, and being selected 10th he only had one thing to say to the rest of the league, “I’m motivated.”  Rosen is hoping to prove every doubter wrong, and looks to be the last quarterback standing when his career is all said and done.

Also, for the first time ever in a draft two brothers were taken in the 1st Round.  Tremaine Edmunds, out of Virginia Tech, was taken 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills. And Terrell Edmunds, also out of Virginia Tech, was taken 28th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Sadly, the Bills and the Steelers do not play each other, but a little brother rivalry will probably be on its way in the near future.

WR Downfall

For the first time since 2009 a WR wasn’t drafted in the first 20 picks.  Only two WR’s were drafted in the first round the first being D.J. Moore, out of Maryland, taken 24th overall to the Carolina Panthers.  The second WR drafted was Calvin Ridley, out of Alabama, taken 26th overall by the Atlanta Falcons.  For the Falcons that makes two elite WRs for them from Alabama in Julio Jones, and now Ridley.  Jones, however, has caused stir throughout the NFL after unfollowing and deleting all his pictures of the Atlanta Falcons.  It will be interesting to see where that situation goes.

Inspiring Moment in the Draft

 Ryan Shazier was asked to announce the Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick.  Shazier walked down the aisle holding his fiance’s hand.  Shazier has shown incredible perseverance through this injury.  He was smiling while walking and waving to fans throughout Jerry’s World.  It was inspiring to watch a man who may never play a game he loves again have a smile on his face through everything that has happened.

 

 

2018 NFL Draft: JT Barrett, QB

The winningest QB in Ohio State history, JT Barrett is starting his journey in the NFL as an underdog.  There are questions about his ability to read defenses and work through his progression, but his intangibles are off the charts along with his leadership qualities.  The past two seasons at Ohio State have been hard on him, and the lack of a potent passing game hurt his stock.  Known as a single-read and dash player, Barrett has left a lot to be desired.  He will have to work hard to earn a spot on an NFL roster or a teams practice squad.

Draft Projection:  7th Round-UFA

2018 NFL Draft: Marcus Baugh, TE

Marcus Baugh was a highly rated recruit out of California that did not have the career that he had imagined for himself.  It may not be the ideal situation, but his last year at Ohio State lived up to his expectations after being utilized more often during the season and being the recipient of the game-winning TD to beat Penn State.  He is a solid receiver, but he needs to improve his strength and blocking, but he will be a solid contributor when called upon.  He is well-rounded and could add depth to a depleted TE group.

Draft Projection:  7th Round-UFA

2018 NFL Draft: Chris Worley, LB

Chris Worley is another underrated prospect coming out of Ohio State.  A leader at ILB, at Ohio State he played admirably during his tenure at Ohio State, which should help him secure a spot on an NFL team or on a practice squad.  He didn’t test as well as he should have, and that has been problematic for him and his draft stock.  He is a leader and another team-centric player.  It won’t take him long to adjust at the next level.

Draft Projection:  6th Round-UFA

2018 NFL Draft: Tyquan Lewis, DE

Tyquan Lewis is another under-the-radar prospect that doesn’t wow you with statistics, but he has a motor.  He has average athleticism, but his determination and willingness to do whatever the team needs is what will get him drafted.  His ceiling isn’t as high as the others, but he is a leader and a team-first type of player.  When placed in the right system, he could blossom into a starter or a key role player.

Draft Projection:  3rd-4th Round

2018 NFL Draft: Jerome Baker, LB

Jerome Baker is a baller looking for a team to help on defense.  A bit of unknown until the Oklahoma game in 2016, he was a little bit up and down in 2017.  Without downplaying his skills and his talent, he will add instant depth to an aging and struggling LB core in the NFL.  Baker has a nice blend of skills and he proved that during the combine and he is going to be special once he gets it figured out.  He is able to play in coverage and be effective, while also being able to stop the run and get to the QB.

Draft Projection:  3rd-4th Round

2018 NFL Draft: Jamarco Jones, OT

Jamarco Jones is a stalwart at Tackle and has been a serviceable starter during his tenure at Ohio State.  At 6’4″, 299 lbs, Jones is a bit undersized, but with the right strength and conditioning program, he could grow into a bookend on an offensive line somewhere in the NFL.  A lot of scouts have Jones lower than he should be, but it will just motivate him as he grows accustomed to the NFL life at OT.  He is certainly not a day one starter, but he could blossom into one in the future.  All he needs is a chance.

Draft Projection:  3rd-4th Round

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Position Battles (Part III)

With this matchup being approximately a week away the focus will be on the defensive position battles between Ohio State and USC.  This matchup will feature Ohio State and their Top 10 defensive unit against a reinvigorated defense that has won 5 straight.

Defensive Line:

The Rushmen package that Coach Johnson has installed has worked tremendously well for the Silver Bullets.  The combination of Bosa, Lewis, Holmes, and Hubbard will be used to solely to disrupt Sam Darnold and cause chaos.  It has worked for most of the season, and why not go back to the well.

The depth and talent of the players on Ohio State’s bench are ridiculous, and most, if not all of them are starters at any other school in the nation.  That is the best part about having such a coach like Coach Johnson on to mentor them.

In the interior, Sprinkle and Jones will start the game with Hill and Landers relieving them when they get tired, and they are a pretty talented group of individuals who could all wreak havoc on the trenches.

They are 20th in the nation in total sacks and 13th in team tackles for loss.  They are averaging 2.85 sacks per game and 7.7 in total yards lost.  USC needs to control the trenches to succeed in this matchup because if the floodgates open, it’ll be a long day for Darnold.

Rasheem Green was once an Ohio State target when he was coming out of high school, but things did not work out.  Unlike Ohio State, who runs a 4-3, USC runs the opposite, a 3-4.  Rasheem Green, Josh Fatu, and Christian Rector all start for the Trojans, and they all are space eaters in the trenches.

USC is 6th in the nation in team sacks edging out the Ohio State’s unit with 3.31 sacks per game.  Running a different scheme has its advantages, but the Ohio State Offensive Linemen are one of the most talented groups that USC has faced, so it will have to be determined come gameday.

Linebackers:

Both teams have an embarrassment of riches at the LB positions.  Ohio State has Baker, Borland, and Worley as starters, with Jones, Harrison, and Booker in the wings.  Together, they make a formidable trio for defenses and they are the second level behind the Rushmen.

Baker is a potential first rounder that can do it all.  In coverage, as a spy, even as a blitzer, he will do everything he can to make an impact.  Worley and Borland play well at their new positions.  Worley moved back outside while Borland took Worley’s spot in the middle, and it has worked out pretty good.

USC has quite a formidable combination at LB, and I think they are the reason why their defense has so many sacks.  The USC linemen occupy blockers while the LB’s knife through to seek out the Quarterback.

Led by Iosefa and Smith, this unit is scary good and they could give the right side of the line fits.  They are ranked as the 56th best team in the nation in tackles for loss, but I have a feeling that they will get to Barrett a lot this game due to the inconsistency of the right side, but I do not think it will be as bad as two years ago.

They will do enough to disrupt Barrett and his decision-making process, and they will most likely take the Buckeyes backs down a couple of times in the backfield.  This matchup will be between NFL Linebackers prospects, who are trying to make it to the next level.

Defensive Backs:

Denzel Ward leads another talented group of DB’s at Ohio State, along with Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield at Cornerback.  The definition of a shutdown corner in a long line produced by Coach Coombs, he will look to stop USC’s best playmaker on offense like he has done all season.

At Safety Damon Webb, a hard-hitting safety will patrol the top quarters along with Jordan Fuller to prevent the big plays downfield.

Collectively, BIA will be looking to prove once again that they are the Best In America by locking up USC, but Arnette and Sheffield must avoid the costly penalties that have been a problem for them this season to be successful.

Jack Jones, Iman Marshall, and Chris Hawkins lead the DB’s, and they will look to stop the Buckeye speed.  A lot of teams outside of Oklahoma and Iowa were unsuccessful in preventing the speedy WR’s from getting behind them, but they have the talent in the secondary to do so.

Like Ohio State’s starters, they will be tasked to stop a talented offense and they have the skills and the talent to certainly do so, but it is easier said then done.  Ohio State loves those crossing routes, but I feel like in order for this unit to succeed, they must stop Dobbins and Weber, and Barrett too from establishing a balance and establishing the run.

If they successfully make Ohio State one-dimensional, they will most likely have success.  If not, I think it’ll be a long day.

Position Battles:

DL:  Due to the different defensive schemes, this matchup is close.  From a talent standpoint, I will give the edge to the Buckeyes, but the production edge goes to USC.  The biggest factor will depend on which offensive line shows up.  If 2016 Ohio State shows up, USC wins easily.  If this seasons team does, Ohio State wins.  I am counting on the 2017 team to show up so I will give the slight edge to Ohio State.

LB:  Both units have a lot of talent that is starting and on the bench.  With Ohio State, they have been good, but inconsistent.  Baker tends to gamble and run himself out of position and Borland is good, but young.  USC will blitz like crazy and they have a lot of former Buckeye targets on their roster that will show up in the game.  With that, I declare this draw because there are too many variables that could swing either way.

DB:  This matchup features NFL prospects on both sides.  Ward is a lock in the 1st Round and everyone else is looking to get drafted.  Ohio State suffers from inconsistency outside of Ward, and when Arnette and Sheffield struggle, the game is almost unwatchable.  On USC’s side, Marshall and Marvell are looking to improve their draft position with a great performance against a Top 5 team and fellow conference champion.  I will give the Buckeyes the slight edge.

Special Teams:  I did not forget about this unit, but it will be an important part of the game in regards to the field position battle.  Ohio State has improved a lot over the course of the season, but USC’s unit is better in my opinion.  If USC can dominate this phase, they will be in line for an 8th straight win over the Buckeyes, but I think they finally break the streak.

Prediction:  Ohio State defeats USC 31-20

All things considered, I think the Buckeyes earn a victory in this contest.  The 7 wins in a row comment on Twitter, kind of gave the “Basic Defense” vibe and the last thing the Buckeyes need is more bulletin board material after being left out of the playoffs in favor of Bama.  I would love to see a decisive victory over USC, but I think both teams come out swinging with NFL draft positions being up for grabs.

Illibuck stays in Columbus

In Columbus, on their last home game for the season, J.T. Barrett and the other seniors on the roster looked for a perfect send-off from friends, families, and coaches before heading to Ann Arbor to cap off their rollercoaster regular season.

The game began with Ohio State taking the first possession of the game and it really did not take long for the Buckeyes to impose their will against the Illini.  Their main objective was to run into the defenses teeth and they definitely made that happen.  By the time the game ended, after all the smoke, the Buckeyes ran all over the defense and registered 325 rushing yards for 4 TDs.

Mike Weber proved that he is healthy once again and for the second consecutive game, he went over the 100-yard mark again after busting through for a 43-yarder to essentially put the game further out of reach.  Weber also notched another game where he scored multiple times.

Dobbins and Barrett combined for 84 yards, with a TD a piece.  After their day was done Antonio Williams came in for relief duty and he ran with determination and power before finishing the game with 19 carries and 74 yards.

Barrett did not have a turnover this game, but he was an effective passer as he reached 101 total passing TDs in his career.  He was 11 for 19 with 2 TDs hitting Victor and Baugh for touchdowns.  Once the game had been decided, the backups Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow got their chance for a few reps, and Buckeye nation got a snapshot at what should be one hell of a QB battle next season along with Tate Martell for the starting QB spot.

On the initial Haskins drive, he tried to take it past the first down marker, but he was hit hard and he fumbled the football and it was returned for Illinois’ first score of the game, effectively breaking the shutout.  He was quickly benched in favor of Barrett for one last drive and after he finished the drive, Burrow was put in and he also fumbled but was able to recover before punting the ball.

Illinois score with a younger QB after Crouch went down with an injury and he made the most of his shot because, on the first play, he rushed for a 9-yard score.  The backups got a lot of work, but they showed a lot of promise.

With the Buckeyes rolling, the game ended with a 52-14 victory as they have retained the trophy for another year.  Another bit of good news is with TTUN losing to Wisconsin, Ohio State have secured the BIG 10 East division spot for the Conference Championship Game, but the next opponent on the docket is TTUN, which should be interesting, to say the least.  For now, enjoy the win.  Go Bucks.

Battleground Columbus: The Battle for Illibuck

This matchup pits #9 Ohio State and Illinois on Senior Day, which will obviously be their last game at the Shoe and it has the makings of another emotional game.  Ohio State will be facing a team that is struggling to find their identity and also a team that still has not gotten a conference win this season, that is sitting at 2-8 overall.  The Buckeyes will not overlook this Illini team because besides this being their last home game, the Illibuck trophy is up for grabs again.

Since 2001, Illibuck has been stashed away at Ohio State, but a baller named Juice Williams upset the Buckeyes and took it away for a short vacation to Champagne.  There are many players that will ensure that chaos does not happen.  From J.T. Barrett to Damon Webb, each Senior will play their hearts out.  The underclassmen and potential early entries for the draft will also ensure that their Seniors are not disappointed in their last game at home, especially before the Game.

Ball Security Dilemma:

One thing of concern will be J.T. Barrett and turnovers.  In the last two games, he has thrown 6, yes 6 interceptions.  He has difficulties with accuracy and ball placement, but this game will present an opportunity to fix and adjust prior to traveling to Ann Arbor for the Game.

Last week, Barrett was all over the place in the passing attack, but he rarely needed to air it out because the run game was unstoppable against a normally stout Spartan defense.  The Buckeyes beat the snot out of them and routed them, and with their playoff hopes on life support, they cannot afford any more hiccups and they must win out and win the conference, but that is not what is important.  The important thing for them is staying focused and taking care of the ball, and that starts with Barrett at the helm.

This Lovie Smith led defense is surrendering 204.1 passing yards and 198.9 rushing yards per game, but they have not faced the caliber and types of athletes that the Buckeyes have on their roster.  Look for Meyer to establish the run early and often to soften the coverage for play action passes.  This will be a confidence booster and they will need all they can get.

Defenses Last Stand:

The question on everyone’s mind, and mine especially, is who will get a targeting penalty this time?  Ward, Bosa, Jones, and Arnette have been ejected for targeting and it has been a trend for this team this year.  The Buckeyes cannot afford any stupid targeting penalties, especially in the second half because another pair of gold pants will be on the line against the TTUN.

Jaylin Holmes, Tracy Sprinkle, Dante Booker, Chris Worley, Tyquan Lewis, Michael Hill, and Erick Smith will play their last game and they would love to finish the season with a conference championship, their only goal right now.  There are others like Bosa, Baker, Ward, Arnette, and Hubbard, who may leave after this season, but a lot is on the line in this game, even with an overmatched team in your way.

Illinois will have a new QB after Dudek went down with an injury, and may not be back next year. George has thrown 10 INT’s so far during his time in the fire and I am sure that the defense will force a few due to his inexperience.

Ground and Pound:

The duo of Weber and Dobbins will be featured in this contest a lot.  They ran all over Michigan State and will look to add to their momentum just in time for the game.  They all do not want to let their Seniors down in their last game at the Shoe, especially when Weber might potentially leave after this season.

Billy Price and Jamarco Jones, along with Barrett will fight alongside both RB’s for Illibuck and for bragging rights and Zone 6 will also try to explode onto the scene to put the game away early to rest for the Game.  This game is their last chance to correct any and all quirks on the offensive side of the ball to walk into Ann Arbor with added momentum and focus because the Game is always exciting and unpredictable.

Prediction:

Ohio State picks up where they left off in the running game and finely tunes the passing attack to prepare for TTUN.  Barrett throws at least one pick in the game, but has 3 TD’s to Zone 6 and a rushing TD.  The RB’s run wild and salt the game away and combine for 180 yards and 4 scores en route to a 56-6 thrashing of Illinois.

Ohio State defeats Illinois 56-6.