COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs says something about his position group, people tend to listen. That’s what happens when the NFL draft serves as an annual reminder of one’s ability to produce pro talent.
So when Coombs levied perhaps as much praise as he ever has on his position group coming out of the Buckeyes’ spring practice season, it was worth taking note.
“We have the most depth that we’ve had at the position since I’ve been here,” Coombs said Wednesday. “I’m extremely excited about the totality of the room.”
That’s certainly saying something when you consider the talent Ohio State has possessed at cornerback since Coombs arrived in Columbus in 2012 as a member of Urban Meyer’s staff. Evidence of that talent will be on full display April 27, when former Buckeyes cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are each expected to be selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Lattimore and Conley would become the third and fourth first-round picks of Coombs’ Ohio State career, joining Bradley Roby  and Eli Apple . That means that as recently as 2015, the Buckeyes’ cornerbacks room possessed three future first-round picks.
So for Coombs to assert that this year’s group is even deeper than that one certainly says plenty. But what’s even crazier about the Ohio State assistant’s lofty praise is that there’s reason to believe him.
As far as returning players are concerned, Denzel Ward is back for his junior season after regularly rotating alongside Lattimore and Conley a year ago. Meanwhile, Coombs called redshirt sophomore Damon Arnette one of the breakout players of the spring for the Buckeyes.
Factor in the arrival of a talented quartet of early enrollees in Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade, Kendall Sheffield and Marcus Williamson and the abundance of talent present in the Ohio State cornerbacks room is clear.
That’s not to say that the unit is already playing up to par. That was clear in the Buckeyes’ spring game, when Okudah, Wade and Sheffield — each former 5-star prospects — were beat for long touchdowns.
“We have to get better in order to be able to match the standard that we have here. That was obvious on Saturday in the spring game,” Coombs said. “It was a great experience for those young players to have that happen to them and not have it count.”
Perhaps even more promising was the way they responded, with both Okudah and Wade recording pass breakups in the end zone near the end of the game to secure a victory for the Scarlet squad. “Those were huge, huge positives coming out of there on Saturday,” Coombs said.
This might be the Buckeyes’ deepest crop of cornerbacks yet, but can it be their best? That’s the expectation. And thanks in large part to their position coach’s track record, it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.