The collegiate Pro Day circuit is in full swing. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin have been making their rounds to the premier schools to evaluate some of the top talent for this year’s NFL Draft. Recently, both Tomlin and Colbert appeared at The Ohio State University’s Pro Day. The significance of this is that the last 10 first round draft picks by the Steelers all had both Tomlin and Colbert in attendance at their Pro Days. Additionally, Ohio State’s run to the National Championship Game ended their season ranked in the Top 10 in the AP Poll. In Kevin Colbert’s tenure, 16 of the 20 first round picks have come from schools that finished the year in the AP Top 25. Here is a look at the 15 prospects that took part in Ohio State’s Pro Day, which has an extra importance this year with no Combine.
Baron Browning – LB
6’2″ 245 lbs
Browning was a versatile linebacker who comes from athletic bloodlines. His father was a defensive back at TCU and his brother played at Stanford. During his tenure in Columbus, he played both inside and outside linebacker in the Buckeyes 4-3 scheme. He displayed the ability to do everything asked of him in both run defense and pass defense. He attacks the run from the outside and recorded a number of forced fumbles over his career by . Browning may be a bit of a “tweener” for the NFL – he could either add some bulk and play as a 3-4 outside linebacker or trim down and play on the inside. He showed the ability to cover tight ends and drop into short zones and can chase the ball all over the field. Browning tested very well at the Pro Day, running a sub-4.6 40-yard dash and turning in a 3-cone drill under 6.8 seconds. Browning’s athleticism will get him drafted, but NFL teams will need to find a place for him. He can be a little tentative rather than taking contact head-on. Browning’s athleticism hasn’t matched his instincts and he can be a little slow to react at times.
Projection: Late 3rd/Early 4th
Blake Haubeil – K
6’3″ 230 lbs
Haubeil is a strong-legged kicker who was the kickoff specialist as a freshman before stepping into the placekicker role for the Buckeyes. During his career, he was perfect on all 146 extra point attempts. His best year came as a junior when he went 13-for-15 on field goals including a career long of 55 yards. In the COVID-shortened season of 2020 he attempted just 7 field goals and made 5, the lowest percentage of his career. He did miss a few games while battling throw a groin injury. The concerns are that with Ohio State’s explosive offense he did not attempt many long field goals.
Drue Chrisman – P
6’2″ 209 lbs
Chrisman averaged a solid 45 yards per punt for Ohio State this past season. Additionally, he showed off his leg on kickoffs, taking a turn in the rotation as a kickoff specialist. Granted, Ohio State’s high-powered offense did not call upon him to punt very often (just 27 punts in 2020). Chrisman has been the punter since his freshman year, and of his 185 career punts, 72 were downed inside the 20. Impressively, 10 of his 27 punts in 2020 were downed inside the 10. He does have good size and a strong leg, which won’t be enough to get him drafted but could see him garner a training camp invitation from a team looking to have competition at punter.
Jake Hausmann – TE
Hausmann saw a lot of time on special teams during his tenure at Ohio State. He was lightly used in the passing game but did see time as a blocking tight end. He had just 3 career receptions and 1 touchdown. If he attracts any attention, it will be for his blocking abilities as an undrafted free agent.
Jonathon Cooper – EDGE
6’2″ 253 lbs
Cooper was an edge rusher in Ohio State’s 4-3 scheme who started as a senior but was part of a rotation due to the Buckeyes depth along the line. Nevertheless, he led the team with 3.5 sacks in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Due to playing in a rotation for nearly his whole career, Cooper does not have very refined pass rush moves. He lacks explosiveness off the ball and wins primarily with his strength and toughness. Cooper is physical at the point of attack and can push the pocket with a strong upfield rush.
Projection: Late Day 3 – 7th or UDFA
Josh Myers – OL
6’5″ 310 lbs
He is recovering from a foot injury so did not do any tests at the Pro Day. Myers stepped into the starting role in 2019 and excelled in 2020, earning first team All-Conference honors and being named a finalist for the Rimington Trophy. He is a large presence in the middle of the line and uses his size and strength to his advantage to control the center of the field. He did a very good job with communicating in the middle of Ohio State’s line and was able to handle stunts and twists as well as getting out in space to pave the way for the ground game. He doesn’t have the footwork to pull around the edge but can be an effective blocker in either a power scheme or moving horizontally in an outside zone scheme. Myers has the size, consistency, and football intelligence to carve out a solid career in the league.
Projection: 3rd round
Justin Fields – QB
6’2″ 227 lbs
Fields is one of the “Big Four” quarterbacks and will likely be taken in the Top 10 (possibly Top 3) of the Draft. Trevor Lawrence is nearly guaranteed to go first overall, then after him it is a conversation between Fields, BYU’s Zack Wilson, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. There was some talk after Ohio State’s Semifinal thumping of Clemson that Fields should be in consideration for the top pick. He is a dual-threat quarterback prospect who is capable of slinging it down the field as well as making things happen with his feet. Fields ran a blistering 4.45 40-yard dash at his Pro Day after a season where he was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and a Heisman Trophy finalist. Fields has the arm and accuracy to make big plays down the field, and even with his athleticism he keeps his eyes down the field looking for a throw and only runs as a last resort. He will need to work on diagnosing blitzes and coverages at the next level. Occasionally, he can run himself into more trouble when trying to escape the pocket.
Projection: Top 5 pick
Justin Hilliard – LB
6’0″ 229 lbs
Hilliard was a heralded high school prospect who had to battle through injuries during his career in Columbus. He had to redshirt in 2015 with torn biceps then suffered the same injury again in 2016. Hilliard suffered an Achilles injury in the spring of 2019 but was able to return to play during the season. Due to his injuries he was granted a 6th year of eligibility and finally stepped into the starting lineup in 2020. He is a high-energy player who could excel on special teams in the NFL but does not have the athleticism to be a consistent contributor on defense.
Projection: 7th or UDFA
Luke Farrell – TE
6’5″ 251 lbs
Farrell was not used heavily in the passing game, but did display strong hands when called upon. He showed good awareness in his route-running and the ability to work open and find soft spots against zone defenses. Most of his snaps came as an in-line blocker, where he is adequate, but will need work on refining his blocking technique. He did have a strong Pro Day and his testing profile is more athletic than his tape shows. Farrell is likely either a late-round flier or a UDFA that teams will try to develop into a blocking tight end.
Pete Werner – LB
6’2″ 238 lbs
Werner stepped into the starting lineup as a sophomore and capped off his collegiate career with first-team All-Conference honors as a senior. In the COVID-shortened season, he recorded 54 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1 sack and 2 forced fumbles. He looks best suited for an off-ball linebacker position in either a 3-4 or a 4-3. He played all three linebacker positions in Ohio State’s 4-3 scheme and excelled in run defense. Werner showed an innate ability to navigate through traffic and stay clean to find the ball. That said, he could get over-aggressive and either over-run the play or take a poor angle to the ball. Werner has the ability to match up in coverage, which will be an asset at the next level. His tackling form needs some work but his elite athletic testing will be good enough to get him drafted.
Projection: Early Day 3 – 4th or 5th round
Shaun Wade – CB
6’0″ 196 lbs
Wade is recovering from a turf toe injury and did not take part in any of the athletic testing drills at the Pro Day. His medical testing is going to be essential to his draft stock, as turf toe injuries can linger for a long time. Wade put together a great 2020 season, earning Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honors along with being named a first-team All-American. He had 35 tackles, 2 interceptions (one a pick-six), and 4 passes defended. Wade started his career at Ohio State in the slot but his size gives him the ability to play on the outside as well. He is a physical corner that uses his size to his advantage in coverage, but can also be a bit slow in his transition. He lacks the long speed to keep up with faster receivers down the field but has been an impressive play-maker throughout his career whose technique and footwork needs some refinement.
Projection: Day 2 – 2nd or 3rd round
Tommy Togiai – NT
6’1″ 296 lbs
Togiai stepped into the starting lineup for the Buckeyes this past season. His strength is his biggest asset and he can plug up the middle of the line. He is not a great pass-rushing interior lineman and seems better suited to anchor the center of the line. Togiai could use some more mass on his frame to make it harder for double-teams to uproot him from the spot. As just a one-year starter, his hand placement needs some additional work. Togiai showed off his all-around strength with a solid vertical jump for a man his size as well as putting up 40 reps on the bench press.
Projection: Late 3rd/Early 4th
Trey Sermon – RB
6’0″ 215 lbs
Sermon initially signed with Oklahoma and put up some solid numbers as a freshman, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scoring 7 times (5 times on the ground and twice through the air). He found the end zone 13 times as a sophomore. In 2019 he played through some injuries and still managed five total touchdowns. Sermon transferred to Ohio State for his senior season and ran for 870 yards and 4 TDs before exploding for 331 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game and 193 yards in the Semifinal against Clemson. He was limited in the National Championship game after suffering a shoulder injury, and his medical evaluations will be important for his draft stock. Sermon did not turn in a great 40-yard dash time but he showed off his explosiveness in the vertical and broad jumps as well as his quick cuts in the 3-cone drill. This matches Sermon’s tape that he does not have the long speed to break off long touchdown runs but has the burst and elusiveness to be hard to bring down in tight quarters. He looks at his best in an outside zone scheme and is best when he can run in space rather than navigating through traffic on the inside. Sermon has also been an effective receiver out of the backfield and proved he was a capable pass protector as well.
Projection: Early Day 3 – 4th or 5th round
Tuf Borland – LB
6’0″ 229 lbs
Borland’s college career was capped off by Ohio State leaving him in coverage down the field against Heisman Trophy winner Davonta Smith multiple times in the National Championship Game. That matchup went about as well as you’d expect with Smith finding the end zone multiple times. He is a strong, downhill inside linebacker that is a thumper against the run. He doesn’t have the speed to play on passing downs but is a consistent tackler and three-time team captain hailed for his locker room leadership. Borland had a tough Pro Day. His athletic measurements were well below average for an NFL linebacker. He can likely be a special teams contributor but will likely be limited to a 2-down linebacker in the pros.
Projection: 7th round or UDFA
Wyatt Davis – OG
6’3″ 315 lbs
Davis did not start a game until 2019 but made an immediate impact for the Buckeyes. He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-Conference in each of the last two seasons. Davis is a road-grading offensive lineman who has a very strong base and powerful hands. He would likely be best in a power blocking scheme and he does not have great lateral agility to pull around as a lead blocker. Davis will be better suited to have the ground game run behind him where he can just bully defenders out of the way.
Projection: Day 2 – Late 2nd / Early 3rd