Ohio State came up just short in the College Football Playoff vs. Georgia, but the team has blue-chip talent on both sides of the ball. Who are the top Ohio State prospects to keep an eye on in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, and what do the scouting reports detail about their transition to the pros?
Ohio State 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Cameron Brown, CB
Strengths: Once-highly rated cornerback who engages receivers at the line of scrimmage, quickly flips his hips, and mixes it up with opponents throughout the route. Easily runs downfield with opponents and tracks the pass in the air, then gets his head back around and correctly positions himself to defend the throw.
Effective facing the action, quickly recognizes routes, and has an explosive closing burst to the ball. Fires upfield to defend the run, drives his shoulders through ball handlers, and wraps up tackling.
Weaknesses: Gives up inside positioning and struggles covering receivers on crossing patterns. Slow reacting to receivers’ moves off the line, gets turned, and tends to blow too many coverage assignments. Misses tackles, which results in big plays. Coming off a disappointing season.
Overall: Brown was highly graded and considered a Day 2 prospect coming into the season, yet his play fell off. He possesses outstanding size as well as speed and offers scheme versatility, but Brown really must get his game back on track to have any type of career at the next level.
Want more information on Brown? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Cameron Brown, CB, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
C.J. Stroud, QB
Strengths: Physically gifted QB with huge upside. Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers, and remains poised under the rush. Quickly locates the open receiver, goes to the safe underneath outlet if nothing is available, and makes good choices with the football. Doesn’t force throws or put the ball up for grabs and makes a lot of difficult passes.
Possesses a quick release, powers the ball into targets, and loses no velocity throwing on the move. Steps outside the pocket to give himself a better view of the field, keeps his eyes downfield, and delivers some magnificent throws. Puts the deep pass in front of receivers to allow them to run to the ball. Senses the rush and easily avoids defenders.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent. Must do a better job setting up screen throws. Not always on the same page as receivers. Late with reads, which results in inaccurate passes or receivers having to adjust to make the reception. Misses some very easy throws.
Overall: Stroud possesses the physical ability to be a franchise quarterback and has flashed that ability on occasion. While everyone will focus on his tremendous game against Georgia, Stroud was a very slow starter for much of the past two seasons.
In my opinion, he was overcoached and poorly developed by OSU’s coaching staff. It would be best if he sits for a good portion of his rookie season. However, with the proper coach, Stroud can be a tremendous Sunday starter.
Want more information on Stroud? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Dawand Jones, OT
Strengths: Massive OT prospect whose draft stock is soaring. Powerful, nasty, and looks to hit as many defenders as possible on every play. Drives opponents off the line to remove them from the action or easily controls them once engaged at the point.
Quickly sets up in pass protection, keeps his feet moving, and gets his hands into defenders to steer them from their angles of attack. Possesses 36.5-inch arms that he effectively uses to keep opponents away. Stays square, effectively bends his knees for a big man, and makes good use of angles.
Weaknesses: Average ability blocking in motion and on the second level. Lacks balance and struggles to adjust.
Overall: Jones was a reliable two-year starter for Ohio State and went on to have one tremendous day of practice at the Senior Bowl. Besides his run-blocking power, Jones did a tremendous job shutting down speedy edge rushers in Mobile. He put concerns that he would be unable to block the edge at the next level to rest. Jones now moves towards the draft as the top RT prospect from the event.
Want more information on Jones? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR
Strengths: Productive, game-controlling receiver who barely saw the field last season. Sells routes, quickly gets into breaks, and stays low on exit, positioning himself to make the reception. Consistently finds ways to come free and displays a sense of timing as well as outstanding eye/hand coordination. Plays with great body control, snatches the ball away from his frame, then keeps the play in bounds to pick up yardage after the catch.
Possesses outstanding short-area quickness, makes defenders miss in the open field, and handles the ball like a creative running back. Runs well laterally, easily makes the reception on crossing patterns, and is deceptively fast. Adjusts to the errant throw and makes the catch in stride.
Weaknesses: Possesses a thin frame, will struggle in battles, and must learn to handle press coverage. Caught just five passes last season after playing in only three games due to a third-degree hamstring strain.
Overall: Smith-Njigba turned in a career year in 2021, totaling 95 receptions for more than 1,600 receiving yards and nine TDs. He was a human highlight reel and game-controlling wideout who could not be stopped.
The hamstring injury last fall kept him on the sidelines, and Smith-Njigba now heads toward the draft as a bit of a question mark. If he’s able to replicate his sophomore season and improve, Smith-Njigba has the potential to be a No. 1 WR. Yet, if he never attains that level of play at the NFL level, he could end up as a bust.
Want more information on Smith-Njigba? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Jerron Cage, DT
Strengths: Quick, explosive defensive tackle who fires off the snap with a terrific first step, plays with outstanding pad level, and gets leverage on opponents. Wide-bodied and impossible to move off the point. Works his hands throughout the action, displays good movement skills, and easily changes direction. Fluid moving laterally in pursuit, nicely redirects to ball handlers, and works to make plays.
Weaknesses: Easily controlled by blockers and must develop more moves to disengage from blocks. Engulfed at the point. Must improve his balance. Minimally productive the past four years and never really lived up to expectations.
Overall: Cage possesses the measurables and playing style to be a defensive tackle in a four-man line at face value, but he’s been minimally productive and never impacted the game at Ohio State. Cage possesses an upside, but he must quickly kick it into gear to have a career in the NFL.
Luke Wypler, C
Strengths: Athletic two-year starter who is perfectly suited for a zone-blocking scheme. Blocks with excellent lean, stays square, and gets leverage on opponents. Correctly places his hands into defenders, adjusts, and knocks opponents from their angles of attack.
Fires into blocks, keeps his feet moving, and turns defenders from the middle of the line. Quick and fluid pulling across the line of scrimmage, then gets out in front as a lead blocker in motion. Keeps his head on a swivel, shows outstanding awareness, and does a great job quarterbacking the offensive line. Can slide in space.
Weaknesses: Not a big, mauling blocker. Doesn’t get great movement run blocking.
Overall: Wypler is an outstanding zone-blocking center who showed a lot of progress in his game the past two seasons. He did an outstanding job containing Jalen Carter during the College Football Playoff and should only get better as he physically matures and improves his playing strength.
Want more information on Wypler? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Paris Johnson Jr., OT
Strengths: Talented offensive lineman who made the successful transition from guard to left tackle last season. Possesses outstanding size, bends his knees, and blocks with leverage. Stays square and shows strength at the point. Turns defenders off the line and gets movement run blocking. Athletic, quick pulling across the line of scrimmage, gets to the second level, then takes linebackers from the action.
Explosive, plays with a nasty attitude, and works to finish off opponents. Keeps his feet moving and makes outstanding use of angles. Effectively gets his hands into defenders and steers them from their angles of attack.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t always finish run blocks. Occasionally gets bull rushed into the pocket. Must be more consistent with his hands. Overextends into blocks.
Overall: Johnson is a talented blocker with an inconsistent game. When hitting on all cylinders, he’s a dominant run blocker and looks outstanding in pass protection. Yet, he has lapses where he cannot finish off opponents or gets mauled on passing plays. Johnson comes with tremendous upside, but I believe there will be several bumps in the road until he’s a finished product.
Want more information on Johnson? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Ronnie Hickman, DB
Strengths: Nice-sized safety who is consistently around the action. Instinctive, quickly locates the ball, and takes proper angles to the action. Displays solid range going sideline to sideline and possesses a closing burst and an aggressive style. Fires up the field to defend the run and drives his shoulders through ball handlers. Effectively picks up coverage assignments and gets outside the numbers to help cornerbacks when the ball is in the air.
Weaknesses: Shows indecision in man-coverage responsibilities. Minimally effective in deep coverage. Looked terrible during coverage drills at the Senior Bowl.
Overall: Hickman was an active run-defending safety for Ohio State who was also effective against the pass when facing the action. He possesses the size and style to be used as a zone safety and make a roster as an eighth DB.
Want more information on Hickman? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Ronnie Hickman, S, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Tanner McCalister, S
Strengths: Oklahoma State transfer who is best defending the run. Effective facing the action, remains disciplined with assignments, and has a quick closing burst. Reads the quarterback’s eyes, then makes his move to the throw, and possesses good hands for the interception. Quick to read and diagnose and gives effort against the run. Wraps up tackling and brings opponents down in the open field.
Weaknesses: Slow getting his head back around and faceguards in man coverage. Average size and speed.
Overall: McCalister is a zone safety who is best facing the action. He gets the most from his ability but must stand out on special teams to make a roster.
Taron Vincent, DT
Strengths: Quick, explosive 3-technique. Fires off the snap with an explosive first step, displays a nice move up front, and knifes inside of blockers. Plays with outstanding pad level and gets leverage on opponents. Easily moves about the field and works his hands throughout the action. Displays a good arm-over move, penetrates through the gaps, then quickly changes direction. Gives effort pursuing plays out to the flanks.
Weaknesses: Easily out-positioned or blocked by a single opponent. Was a rotational lineman at Ohio State. Posted just 2.5 sacks in four years at Ohio State.
Overall: Vincent did well in his role at Ohio State, but he lacks growth potential, arm length, and upside. He’s a one-gap DT, who would be perfect in the role of a 3-technique.
Zach Harrison, EDGE
Strengths: Long, athletic DE who plays smart, tough football. Instinctive, quickly locates the action, and shows great awareness. Agile, easily redirects or adjusts, and displays good change-of-direction ability. Gets off the snap with a quick first step, keeps his feet moving, and gets a lot of momentum going.
Intense, gets a lot of pressure upfield, and works his hands throughout the action. Athletic, shows a variety of moves to get off blocks, and finds ways to make plays. Moves well laterally getting down the line of scrimmage or outside the box pursuing the action. Bends the edge with speed and is tough to stop. Possesses a closing burst to the action and is a terrific open-field tackler.
Weaknesses: Has a lean build and gets controlled at the point or out-positioned by opponents. Easily knocked from his angle of attack or pass-rush angle. Doesn’t show sustained speed on the field despite his 40 time.
Overall: Harrison was a consistent force for Ohio State’s defense and made plays as a pass rusher and against the run. He has a terrific amount of upside but needs to fill out his frame and add strength to his game. Harrison has the potential to develop into a complete player, and he’s an intelligent lineman who plays tough football.
Want more information on Harrison? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
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