COLUMBUS — Ohio State has had the most success of any school in the last two NFL drafts.
With another draft in the books, the Buckeyes have had at least 10 players selected in back-to-back drafts. That’s rare.
A first-round quarterback. Two offensive linemen selected. Players at every level of the defense. The Buckeyes draft class wasn’t top-heavy, but it was as deep as any in the country this spring.
But what is even more rare is the chance to have double-digit players selected in three-straight drafts. And Ohio State has put itself in prime position to do just that next spring when the 32 NFL teams meet in Las Vegas. Of course the big names — Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Thayer Munford, Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith — will almost certainly be taken with one of the 250-plus picks next year.
But there are plenty of Buckeyes who can improve their draft stock with an impressive 2021 season, helping them slide into the draft conversation, and in some cases, the early-round conversation.
Lettermen Row is breaking down five Ohio State breakouts who could improve their draft stock this fall and hear their name called earlier than expected next spring.
CB Sevyn Banks
Former Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade was selected in the fifth round of the draft over the weekend, continuing an impressive streak of Buckeyes cornerbacks in the draft. Every starting Ohio State cornerback since 2013 has been drafted. It’s up to Sevyn Banks to now keep that streak alive. With a full season of starting experience and an ideal frame for an NFL defensive back, Banks is expected to be the No. 1 cornerback for the Buckeyes this fall. He slowly developed into the best cornerback Ohio State had last season. He’ll be in the conversation for a draft selection next year. If he can stay on his current trajectory and look better this fall, his stock will continue to rise, and he might be the next cornerback from Ohio State to be selected as one of the first defensive backs off the board.
TE Jeremy Ruckert
Jeremy Ruckert could have been an NFL draft selection this weekend, but he still has more to prove at Ohio State before going pro. He now returns to the Buckeyes as one of the top tight ends in the country, and he’s not done yet. Ruckert has gotten better in every season at Ohio State, and that won’t change this fall. With a young quarterback, Ohio State has a bevy of offensive weapons to use. Ruckert may be the secret ingredient to take the Ohio State offense to the next level. As he keeps getting better as a blocker and route-runner, he’ll be one of the top tight ends on draft boards at this time next year.
DT Haskell Garrett
After having a near-death experience and missing training camp, Haskell Garrett burst onto the scene last fall for an All-American campaign. But that wasn’t enough to lure him to the NFL; he used the NCAA eligibility rule to return to Ohio State for another season of development under Larry Johnson. The dominant defensive tackle can only keep getting better. Garrett has a rare combination of size and speed, allowing him to be disruptive from the interior of the defensive line. With another All-American year, he’ll be in the running to be a top defensive tackle target for any NFL team in the draft process.
RT Nicholas Petit-Frere
Ohio State has the best returning offensive tackle duo in America in Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Munford will likely receive most of the attention; he’s on his way to being a four-year starter at left tackle for the Buckeyes. He’ll be coveted by NFL executives next spring. But as Nicholas Petit-Frere enters his second year as a starter, he still has a lot to prove. Petit-Frere was certainly one of the breakout stars of the Ohio State offense. After gaining weight and developing for two years, the former five-star prospect is becoming more comfortable with every rep. If his comfort level and play on the field continues to rise, his draft stock will follow suit. He has a chance to impress scouts and soar up draft boards this fall.
S Josh Proctor
Of the five Buckeyes listed, safety Josh Proctor may have the most to gain in the fall. Physically, Proctor is an ideal NFL safety. He uses his massive frame well and has good football instincts to go with a hard-hitting nature that can’t be taught. But he has room to grow still, as he’s struggled in the open field and with the mental side of the game. After two seasons of duty as a role player, Proctor seems poised to take the next step in his development and become a true breakout star for the Ohio State defense. NFL scouts will love his testing numbers, and he’ll certainly pass the eye test when pro teams see him. If he can become a more polished safety, he’ll rise up draft boards more than any other player on the Buckeyes roster.