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Buckeye Bonanza

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Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual - Washington v Ohio State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

As difficult as this may be to imagine, the Arizona Cardinals do not have one Ohio St. Buckeye on their current roster.

Equally difficult to imagine is that the Cardinals have not drafted a player from Ohio St. since they selected RB Beanie Wells in the first round of the 2009 draft.

To find another Cardinals’ draft pick from Ohio St. you have to go back to the year Larry Fitzgerald was drafted in 2004 when the Cardinals took C Alex Stepanovich in the 4th round.

Prior to that you have to go all the way back to 1999 when WR David Boston was the team’s 1st round pick.

Well, this year the Cardinals may end the drought, because they now have two coaches on their staff who were with Ohio St. last year in Billy Davis (linebackers) and Peter Badovinac (asst. wide receivers).

Billy Davis has made it clear that he wants the Cardinals to take DE Nick Bosa with the #1 pick.

And one would imagine that Peter Badovinac would be delighted to see the Cardinals draft one of the Buckeyes’ talented WRs, Parris Campbel or Terry McLaurin.

For well over a decade now, the guy whom I consult about the Buckeyes’ prospects is a long-time fan and OSU supporter who goes by the name of Buckeye Joe. Buckeye Joe manifests keen insights on the program, their coaches and the players. And when it come to evaluating the players for the draft, I have found that he is not your typical homer. He is very discerning.

Plus, Buckeye Joe is good friends a couple of NFL scouts, thus he is often privy to some inside info on players and coaches.

I caught up with Buckeye Joe recently and asked him about the bonanza of Buckeyes headed to this year’s draft and these are his exact words:

DE Nick Bosa : probably the best football player in the draft. Not a high end athlete, non-stop motor and does everything well. Everybody talks about his pass rush but also plays the run great. Would be a great pick for the Cards IF they leave him at DE. He’s not a LB and never has been. I doubt he’ll be able to cover anybody. If the Cards plan on playing him at LB, they are setting themselves, and Bosa, for failure.

Buckeye Joe’s Cardinals projection: 1st overall (but leave him at DE)

QB Dwayne Haskins: my favorite player in the draft. I think he has elite talent and the sky is the limit. He throws as good a ball I have seen since Jeff George (without the baggage). He has arm strength, touch, good feel in the pocket and is only going to get better. Also is unflappable. Watch the 2017 OSU/Michigan game where he gets thrown into the fire and responds by leading OSU to the victory. He could have better footwork under pressure and can make bad decisions but that will improve with experience.

Card projection: I would take him at 1 but doubt the Cards do.

DT Dre’mont Jones: I don’t think he’s the 1st round talent they are projecting for him. I think he’s benefited from the talent around him. He’s undersized and wasn’t the same player, effect-wise, when Bosa was out with injury. He can generate inside pressure but I think he’s overrated.

Cards projection: don’t draft him

WR Parris Campbell: as seen at the combine, he’s a tremendous athlete and I’ve been saying he’d be THE perfect fit for the Cards offense. The main concern with Campbell is his hands. He had the drops early inhis career at OSU and, while his hands have improved, they still can be an issue as he’ll drop the easy pass on occasion. Still, he can score from anywhere on the field.

Cards projection: would grab him at the top of round 2

G Mike Jordan: Whoever drafts this guy is going to be extremely happy. He started from day 1 at OSU (not easy to do) and has been a very good player every year. They moved him to C this year but I think he’s a better OG. I’d compare him to Mike Pouncey. If he’s hanging around in round 3, he’ll be a steal.

Cards projection: Would take a strong look at him at the top of round 3 but may be a guy to trade for later in round 3 and would be great value.

WR Johnnie Dixon: Another tremendous athlete but that’s it. He’s more athlete than football player. He’s one of those guys that are going make the coaches drool but his production won’t match his physical ability.

Cards projection: don’t draft him

WR Terry McLaurin: Great sleeper prospect and it wouldn’t surprise me if he turned out to be the best WR in the group. For one, he was a team captain (not easy for a WR) and is an all around solid player. Great special teams player too and it’s really hard to find many negatives on him. Fast and plays physical.

Cards projection: much like Mike Jordan. If he’d happen to be there at the top of round 4, run to the podium.

CB Kendall Sheffield: He’s reportedly a great athlete but that hasn’t transferred to the playing field. He’s been a solid but unspectacular player. To his credit, the defense played much better when he was on the field but battled injuries because he’s pretty small.

Cards projection: 5th round or later

RB Mike Weber : highly recruited out of Michigan but was only meh at OSU. He did rush for over 1000 yards one year but I don’t see anything special about him. If there’s a hole, he’ll make yards but he doesn’t have a lot of wiggle or breakaway speed.

Cards projection: do not draft

T Isaiah Prince : also know as the enigma. Ultra talented but only plays like it sparingly. He constantly got beat off the edge by lesser players but played really well versus Rashard Gary and Chase Winovich from Michigan. That tells me it’s a motivation problem. When he wants to play, he’s great. He just doesn’t want to play that way nearly enough.

Cards projection: late 4th and below.

2 OL guys that are likely FA material are T Malcolm Pridgeon (6-7, 310) and G Demetrius Knox (6-4, 313). Pridgeon actually has a chance to be a quality addition to a team while Knox has just been to injured and too inconsistent to think he’ll make a roster.

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Having done a fair share of tape analysis on these Buckeye players, I concur with Buckeye Joe with the vast majority of his assessments. The biggest surprise for me is how high Buckeye Joe is on QB Dawyne Haskins. Not because Haskins doesn’t deserve it, but because Buckeye Joe is rarely confident about the pro prospects of the Buckeyes’ QBs as they head into the draft.

I rate Kyler Murray higher than Haskins because I believe that Murray has a stronger arm and quicker feet. And because of Murray’s outstanding touch and smooth release, his throws are easier to catch.

Would I rate Dwayne Haskins higher than Josh Rosen? To me, it’s a close call. Josh, imo, is a more natural passer. But, I think Haskins is more patient than Josh. He does a better job of taking what the defense gives him. I like Haskins’ vision and his ability to read defenses and if a coach can help him smooth out his delivery and follow-through, Haskins might turn out to be a star. Plus, Haskins’ clutch play versus Michigan and Washington (Rose Bowl), two of the strongest defenses in the major 5 conferences, are game tapes that exceed Rosen’s at UCLA.

Here is Zac Shomler’s film analysis of Dwayne Haskins:

Zac does a great job of identifying the improvement areas of Dwayne Haskins’ game—-and like Buckeye Joe and Zac, I believe that with good coaching, Haskins can become a very good starting NFL QB.

The Buckeyes who excite me the most are WR Parris Campbell (Round 2), G Mike Jordan (Round 3) and WR Terry McLaurin (Round 4).

The dilemma I have with Parris Campbell is rating him a better fit for the Cardinals in early round 2 than A.J. Brown, Hakeem Butler or Andy Isabella, primarily because, while I love Campbell’s feet, he seems to thrive much more on the perimeter than in routes over the middle. Thus, I see Brown, Butler and Isabella as more versatile and better RAC WRs.

One might think that the early 2nd round is too early for Andy Isabella—-but, that all changed when he ran a 4.3 at the Combine. Isabella’s off-the-charts production is difficult to ignore.

In Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, he loves to feed RAC WRs who can catch a variety of short to intermediate passes and turn them into chunk yards.. That’s why I believe that Terry McLaurin, because of his toughness and versatility might actually be a better fit for the Cardinals than Campbell.

As for G Mike Jordan, it would be a coup to land him in the 3rd round. He has a nice combination of size, strength and feet. He’s a feisty competitor, a spirited leader and an all-around good athlete. My only knock on him is that he tends to come out of his stance too quickly on plays where he needs to be more explosive off the snap. But even so, he plays with good leverage, fluid feet and strong hand placement.

If Isaiah Prince is still on the board at the beginning of Round 5, he would be excellent value there and a superb project for offensive line coach Seam Kugler. Prince has the size, athleticism and feet to be a good fit in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. But, as Buckeye Joe said, he needs to play with greater consistency and a stronger command of the fundamentals.

The other Buckeye I like as a Round 6 or 7 pick is RB Mike Weber. Weber reminds me of the Patriots’ RB James White. Not a lot of flash, but a lot of substance as a versatile runner and receiver. They are both in the 5-10, 205 mold and Weber (4. 47) is a tad faster than White (4.57), although both of them lack true breakaway speed. However, they hit the holes hard between the tackles, can bounce plays outside when need be and are reliable playmakers as receivers.

My thanks to Buckeye Joe, as usual, for his excellent assessments of the Buckeye prospects.