COLUMBUS, Ohio — How a college football fan views his favorite program’s pro day likely depends on whether he or she is a glass half-full or a glass half-empty type of person.
On one hand, a pro day can serve as proof of the type of talent your team is capable of producing. On the other, it’s a reminder of all it has to replace.
Such was the case at Ohio State’s pro day earlier this week, as seven potential NFL draft picks — including three projected first-round selections — spent the day performing in front of and/or interviewing with representatives from all 32 teams.
It wasn’t quite the same spectacle as the school’s 2016 pro day, which featured 12 eventual draft picks including five first-round selections. But the event served as yet another showcase and celebration of the NFL factory Ohio State has become.
Who will perform in front of general managers, head coaches and scouts a year from now in Columbus? It’s too early to tell. But if anyone would know, it’s their now-former teammates. I asked them to provide their predictions about who will be the next breakout Buckeyes.
Former Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan
“Everybody. I don’t know exactly, man. All the guys who came in early — I watched a little bit of practice — all of them looked good. I like the cornerback, the JUCO cornerback that came in, Kendall [Sheffield].”
On early-enrollee Baron Browning, who is wearing McMillan’s No. 5: “Little Baron hurt his shoulder a little bit, but he’s going to be all right.”
On Browning looking like McMillan on the field: “I was a little fatter when I got here.”
Former Ohio State H-back Curtis Samuel
“I can’t really say. I know my departure was kind of big here, but we always have great athletes coming in and out of Ohio State. There’s always somebody next. When [Ezekiel Elliott] left, everybody thought that was a big deal, and then I showed up. We’ve got a lot of great players here, and I know somebody’s going to step up. Probably a couple of people. The offense is going to take off, and I’m excited to see this team.”
Former Ohio State safety Malik Hooker
“There’s a lot of guys that are going to surprise you. I could go on about this. Erick Smith, Damon Webb, Jordan Fuller, Jahsen Wint, obviously Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette. It’s a young secondary and a scary secondary. As for people shocked about what I did last year, just wait until you see what happens these next few years with these guys.”
Former Ohio State center Pat Elflein
“I’ve come back and seen a little bit. Jamarco [Jones] and Billy [Price] are going to have really good years. The whole defensive line, those guys are stacked. They just got talent all over the place. This place is a machine.”
On how good Price can be playing center in 2017: “Really good. Billy’s a natural. A natural athlete, very strong. And he’s a smart kid. I mean, intelligence is a huge part of playing football. So I think combining all those things, he’s going to be a great player. He has been a great player in past years, too.”
Former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore
On the Buckeyes’ 2017 secondary: “They’re going to be better. Just like when Eli [Apple], Vonn [Bell] and Tyvis [Powell] left, we were trying to be better. And I feel like they’ve got the same opportunity to just be better than us.”
Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones
“You know what’s funny is I barely know these guys but J.T. [Barrett] and a couple of these seniors on the team. But I always keep my eyes on J.T. just because he kind of lets me know whatever we have, and the offensive success is kind of on his shoulders. But if I had to choose another guy, I’d probably say the other two quarterbacks, Joe [Burrow] and Dwayne [Haskins]. Those guys have looked great in the spring.”