COLUMBUS, Ohio — With NFL draft decisions out of the way and most of the Class of 2018 already signed, it’s a good time to look at what lineup Ohio State might field in 2018.
The draft deadline was very kind to the Buckeyes, with several players who could have gone pro choosing to come back to Columbus. However, Ohio State still needs to replace key figures at several positions, including quarterback, offensive line and pretty much every position group on defense. What follows is an early look at what Ohio State’s 2018 depth chart might look like, followed by thoughts on each side of the ball.
Note: Class of 2018 members are included in some cases, and those members are noted in bold.
Projected 2018 Ohio State depth chart, offense
|QB||Dwayne Haskins||Joe Burrow||Tate Martell|
|RB||J.K Dobbins||Mike Weber||Antonio Williams|
|WR-X||Johnnie Dixon||Terry McLaurin||Jaylen Harris|
|WR-Z||Austin Mack||Binjimen Victor||Kamryn Babb|
|H||Parris Campbell||K.J. Hill||Demario McCall|
|TE||Rashod Berry||Luke Farrell||Jake Hausmann|
|LT||Isaiah Prince||Joshua Alabi||N/A|
|LG||Michael Jordan||Wyatt Davis||Josh Myers|
|C||Brady Taylor||Matthew Burrell||Matthew Jones|
|RG||Branden Bowen||Demetrius Knox||Malcolm Pridgeon|
|RT||Thayer Munford||Branden Bowen||Max Wray|
|K||Sean Nuernberger||Blake Haubeil||N/A|
- Quarterback is a situation where it’s possible there will be a transfer based on the outcome of the position battle, but it feels wrong to project that on the depth chart at this time.
- It’s clear looking at this list just how much the Buckeyes bring back on this side of the ball, especially compared to defense. It will be much harder for freshmen to find their way on to the field here with so many wide receivers and running backs returning.
- Though he’s not listed here, I expect Jaelen Gill to find his way on to the field in 2018. But that H-back situation is going to be a crazy battle for snaps with so many quality options. Tight end Jeremy Ruckert could also be a name to watch, but he’s not enrolling early and three other players who have already been here for at least two years will have a chance to firm up their spot.
- The offensive line could go about 10 different ways because of the versatility involved. For now, I expect Isaiah Prince to move to left tackle, Branden Bowen to stay at right guard and Brady Taylor to win the starting job at center. But if even one of those things doesn’t, it will set off a big chain of events.
- That’s a result of having so many players who can play anywhere on the interior. The Buckeyes have already moved two guards to center, and it could happen again. And players like Bowen and Malcolm Pridgeon could theoretically play guard or tackle. I listed Bowen as the backup right tackle because I believe he would slide over if something happened to Munford.
- Ohio State really needs to add another tackle in the 2018 class, and getting either Rasheed Walker or Nicholas Petit-Frere would be huge for the depth situation there. It’s not great at the moment.
Projected 2018 Ohio State depth chart, defense
|DE||Nick Bosa||Jonathon Cooper||N/A|
|DE||Chase Young||Tyreke Smith||N/A|
|DT||Dre’Mont Jones||Jashon Cornell||Haskell Garrett|
|DT||Robert Landers||Antwuan Jackson||Davon Hamilton|
|SLB||Malik Harrison||Dante Booker||Pete Werner|
|MLB||Tuf Borland||Justin Hilliard||Teradja Mitchell|
|WLB||Keandre Jones||Baron Browning||Dallas Gant|
|CB||Jeffrey Okudah||Kendall Sheffield||Marcus Williamson|
|CB||Damon Arnette||Shaun Wade||Tyreke Johnson|
|S||Jordan Fuller||Jahsen Wint||Josh Proctor|
|S||Isaiah Pryor||Brendon White||Wayne Davis|
|P||Drue Chrisman||Jake Metzer||N/A|
- A quick glance at defensive end makes it obvious how important it was for Ohio State to land 4-star defensive end Tyreke Smith. There could be more help on the way, too, as 4-star Tyler Friday (who Ohio State is recruiting as an end) is favored to pick the Buckeyes.
- Chase Young is listed as a starter while Jonathon Cooper isn’t, but I doubt it ends up mattering. The primary three defensive ends are all going to play a similar number of snaps.
- There’s not much separation at defensive tackles. Even players listed here as third-teamers wouldn’t be a surprise to start opposite Dre’Mont Jones. The depth chart might not mean much at this spot if the Buckeyes can find four or six guys they like and rotate them.
- It was a really tough call to put Dante Booker below the first team, and it won’t be a surprise if his experience wins him the job. But Harrison has shown himself to be a better option, in my opinion, so I went with that.
- I’m a little surprised Ohio State listed Tyreke Johnson as a cornerback. The need at safety is real. He went back and forth about a dozen times late in the season but I think Brendon White could make a quicker impact at safety (especially with every receiver coming back and two safeties departing), so that’s where I listed him.
- Looking at all the bold names on defense compared to offense, it’s not hard to tell which side of the ball was hit hardest by attrition. Luckily for Ohio State, the top-end talent is there and the recruiting class features some standouts.