Although the Buckeyes will not be playing football this fall, they are certainly drawing attention of NFL scouts and national media projecting draft prospects.
ESPN NFL Draft Analyst and College Football Sideline Reporter Todd McShay released his preseason top 50 rankings for the 2021 draft class today and Ohio State had five players represented.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence headlined the list, with fellow quarterback Justin Fields checking in as the first Buckeye at No. 6. Fields passing ability stood out most to McShay.
“Fields is very accurate throwing downfield and throws effectively off-schedule and off-platform,” McShay wrote. “There is some zip on his ball, and he displays a quick release.
Ohio State had two other players listed in the top 25. Cornerback Shaun Wade was McShay’s second ranked defensive back and No. 13 overall player. Wide receiver Chris Olave earned No. 17 in the rankings and the fifth receiver in a loaded pass catcher class.
“He shows quick feet, fluid hips and good closing burst,” McShay wrote of Wade. “His recognition skills are stronger in zone than man coverage, and he is still improving his finishing ability when playing the ball. But he is a strong open-field tackler and brings versatility to the table.”
McShay noted that the Buckeyes had two of their defensive backs drafted in the first round next season. Wade could be the eighth OSU defensive back selected within the first 32 picks within the last six years.
Olave received a grade of ‘90’ by McShay and was slotted as the second ranked receiver from the Big Ten.
“He is explosive and fast ... It helps him generate vertical separation, something he does better than any other receiver I've watched on tape for this class,” McShay noted. “Olave also has soft hands and transitions upfield well after the catch.”
Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis is considered a first round talent based on McShay’s rankings. Davis was given the No. 30 spot and third ranked interior offensive linemen.
“Davis' size and mobility are pretty ideal for a guard prospect. His foot quickness is above average, and his awareness is very good. In 2019, he did not give up a sack or hit on the quarterback in 400-plus pass pro reps. He takes good angles and has the strength to consistently get movement in the run game,” said McShay.
Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater was slated two ticks ahead of Davis.
Rounding out the list for Ohio State was inside linebacker Pete Werner. McShay marked Werner as his No. 36 player and liked his all-around ability to defend.
“In coverage, Werner has the length and athletic traits to hold up against most tight ends and running backs, and his recognition skills stand out,” he said. “As a run defender, he diagnoses quickly, doesn't take many false steps, closes well and is a tough tackler. Last season, he had 64 tackles and broke up three passes.”
Only Alabama (6) had more players ranked than Ohio State. The Buckeyes had the most players represented within the top 40.