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Ohio State: Five reasons Parris Campbell could be a first-round pick

Former Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell made his case for a first-round selection in the NFL Draft after his excellent final season. (Gary A. Vasquez USA TODAY SPORTS)

Ohio State Football

Ohio State: Five reasons Parris Campbell could be a first-round pick

COLUMBUS — Parris Campbell will hear his name called at the NFL Draft in late April. There’s absolutely no question about that.

However, after former Ohio State receiver Terry McLaurin boosted his own draft stock last week at the Senior Bowl, it’s interesting to consider just how high another former member of Zone 6 in Campbell — who denied his invite to the game — may be selected in the draft. Many felt that after last season, the Akron-native may forgo his final season of eligibility for an opportunity at the next level, but Campbell decided he had “one more” year left in him to fine-tune his skills at receiver.

And looking back on his final season wearing the Scarlet and Gray, all he did was be named a captain, lead the team in receiving yards, be named first-team all-Big Ten and help the program to a second-straight conference championship and a Rose Bowl title.

In just under three months, an NFL franchise will select Campbell and immediately gain an excellent asset both on and off the field. What round could he go in? Lettermen Row is looking at a few reasons why the former Buckeye should hear his name on Day 1.

Parris Campbell is FAST

A state track champion in high school, Campbell first came to Ohio State with some recognition to his straight-line speed. His quick feet were never in doubt during his time as a Buckeye, and he used that aspect of his game to his advantage during his final year by nearly doubling his yardage total from the previous season and becoming just the fifth Ohio State all-time to rack up over 1,000 receiving yards in one season.

Likely the most notable touchdown from his Buckeyes career came thanks to that blazing pace, and also occurred it what is probably his most memorable performance in a Scarlet and Gray uniform. Early in the fourth quarter of The Game Campbell took a “pop pass” from Dwayne Haskins and took off down the sidelines, blowing past multiple Michigan defenders in the process, for 78 yards and his first of two touchdowns on the day.

He would finish the game with six receptions for 192 yards, along with those two scores.

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Parris Campbell is versatile

A former running back in high school, Campbell did what most guys do when they first come to Ohio State and earn their stripes on special teams. After working hard and a tough start to his redshirt freshman season, he was able to work into the regular rotation at wide receiver before being called upon to become the coveted H-back/slot receiver position and even would return kicks from time to time.

The overall athleticism of Campbell is a dangerous weapon that Ohio State utilized during his time as a Buckeye and, along with that speed, made him tough to handle for any defensive back. However, it also allowed him to get on the field in a multitude of ways over his five seasons. And to an NFL team looking to draft a possible receiver in the first round, the multitalented Campbell should be a prime prospect.

Parris Campbell is tough to bring down

Campbell dealt with drop issues during his first few seasons in Columbus, but with more experience was able to become one of the most consistent receivers the Buckeyes have had in recent memory and led the team with 90 receptions this past season — a new program record. But after he gets the ball in his hands, good luck bringing him down.

Thanks to that speed and some shifty moves, I personally deemed Campbell the “YAC King” after his crazy statistical season in 2018. Sure, he didn’t lead the team in yards per catch simply because a decent amount of his “catches” occurred on those pop passes behind the line of scrimmage. But as we saw early on in the season against Tulane, throughout the year and capped off with his long touchdown in the rivalry game, Campbell is extremely difficult to bring down in the open field when he gets going.

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Parris Campbell was a key player in the recent success of Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Parris Campbell can block

If there was a competition between the Ohio State offensive line or wide receivers and who could block the best, I truly think that Zone 6 could give them a run for their money. And that, in part, has to do with Campbell.

He may not be as well-known in terms of blocking compared to his teammate Terry McLaurin, but the Akron-native was a force of his own of the Ohio State offense. One of the main parts of the Buckeyes offense under Urban Meyer were the bubble screens at the line of scrimmage, which requires a few seal blocks from the wideouts to possibly spring a touchdown and Campbell worked to master that technique during his final season under Brian Hartline.

Now on his way to the next level with that ability, he just gives franchises another reason to take him early on in the draft.

Parris Campbell is a leader

It shouldn’t take long to think of good leaders when it comes to Ohio State football because the program has been lucky enough to have more than just a few just in the last decade. But if it comes down to just one, Campbell may be the epitome of leadership for the Buckeyes.

A two-time captain, Campbell was on the fence about coming back to Ohio State for a final season in pursuit of the NFL after 2017. He knew he had some things to fine tune before he was truly ready for the next level. And after one final run, Campbell led Ohio State to a second-straight Big Ten Championship, a Rose Bowl title and put his name in the Buckeyes record books multiple times.

Following a career day earlier last season against Tulane, Urban Meyer credited him for returning and how his game has improved because of it.

“Just his ball skills [have improved],” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He made a decision — he should have come back. I think he’s a top first-round draft pick at some point, but he had to improve his ball skills, especially down field.

“He’s improved the crossing routes and bubbles and those types of things. The execution today on that pause route was perfect. He’s really playing well.”

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Most quiet 1,000 yard receiving season I’ve ever seen.

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Nick is the producer at Lettermen Row. Born in Dayton, Nick recently graduated from Ohio State where he worked for The Lantern and the College of Veterinary Medicine. He also knows the city of Columbus and its love of sports well after interning with Columbus Crew SC and WBNS-10TV during his undergraduate education.

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