Land of 10/file photo
Cornerback Kendall Sheffield broke up five passes in his first season at Ohio State.

Ohio State: Will Kendall Sheffield stick with Buckeyes or go 1-and-done to NFL?

Austin Ward

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There are surefire, no-doubt-about-it NFL decisions that are easy to predict for the Ohio State staff as it starts to look ahead to 2018, but it’s the unexpected ones that keep coaches up at night until the draft deadline passes. Earlier in the week, the uncertainty around running back Mike Weber was the hot topic, and in some ways Kendall Sheffield fits in that same category.

That may come as a surprise to some based on his production level at cornerback, the fact that he’s never been the No. 1 defensive back at Ohio State yet — and that he’s only even been in the program for a year. But after redshirting at Alabama, playing a season in junior college and then contributing in a meaningful role for the Buckeyes this season, he is eligible to declare for the draft if he chooses. With his physical tools, there’s a decent chance he would be selected and could start collecting a paycheck.

However, Sheffield is almost certainly going to get feedback that he needs to return for another year in the Kerry Coombs Finishing School for First-Round Cornerbacks. There’s no doubt that Sheffield was a better player at the end of the season than when it started, and thinking about what Coombs could do to help boost his stock with another year of development absolutely should be a factor in his decision. On top of that, scouts and general managers surely haven’t seen enough of him at this point with just 33 tackles, 5 passes defended and a fumble recovery on his resume to invest much in him now. There would be a heck of a lot to be gained by working to move into the early rounds next year.

Kendall Sheffield-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Big Ten-cornerback
Kendall Sheffield could benefit from another season at Ohio State. (Land of 10/file photo)

Coombs, of course, has proven he can get guys like Sheffield there. Denzel Ward is going to be the latest example of that coming off the assembly line, assuming that he makes his anticipated decision to forego his remaining eligibility. That would put Sheffield in line to take over that spot as Ohio State’s primary cornerback, giving him a better showcase for his talent. And it would also mean that he doesn’t have to compete with a crowded group of players at what could be a loaded class of cover guys in the upcoming draft.

Sheffield obviously doesn’t have quite the no-brainer choice that his counterpart in Ohio State’s secondary does right now, but he does have the option to make one. And what Sheffield ultimately elects to do will no doubt shape how the Buckeyes will look next fall — and the safe bet would be on him sticking around to be part of that team.

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