Marvin Harrison

Don’t Mock The Early Mocks

The 2023 NFL Draft has been in the books for nearly a week and all attention for NFL Draft personnel is looking ahead to the 2024 edition, set to take place in Detroit.

Ohio State’s six draftees may have been a lower number than many people expected, matching the six that were taken in the 2022 draft class. Even with just 12 players drafted over the past two seasons, five of them have been in the first round and 2024 looks to be the big windfall that fans have come to expect.

These way-too-early drafts have become a must read for many NFL and college fans alike, giving an idea who the draft experts like going into the next season.

Last season there were no brainer hits like CJ Stroud, Will Anderson and Bryce Young, but there are plenty of misses as well, either with a player not declaring or just a bad season or testing session leading to a fall. We’re looking at you who put Eli Ricks into the first round.

What is the floor for the fewest number of Buckeyes to make the first-round next season? What about the ceiling? Names could come and go as the year goes on and at some positions, a strong year for one player could mean less opportunity for another player.

While we are not here to endorse any of the way-too-early drafts, we read them just like you do. Here are many of the names that are being mentioned as having potential of being a first-round pick. Agree? Disagree? Join us over in The Huddle message board and let us know your thoughts.

Marvin Harrison Jr. – This is about the surest of locks on the entire board. MJH will be going into his third and assuredly final season as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Harrison is coming off a 77-reception season for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns and will be Ohio State’s main offensive target this upcoming season.

We are still puzzled how Harrison Jr. did not win the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top wide receiver, a snub that should fuel MJH this upcoming season, even if all the goals are team goals.

There seems to be a consensus in the early drafts that Harrison Jr. will be the No. 2 overall pick, going only behind USC quarterback Caleb Williams. A wide receiver has not gone No. 1 since Keyshawn Johnson did it for USC in 1996.

J.T. Tuimoloau – This is another player that seems to be a consensus pick for being in the 2024 1st round, even if JT has not given any indications that this will be his final season as a third-year junior.

Last season’s numbers overall don’t jump off the page because of the way that Ohio State and Larry Johnson rotate players in-and-out of the lineup, but the NFL saw the Penn State game and know that type of play is there.

2023 could shape up to be a year where we see a lot of Tuimoloau on the field and the sack numbers (3.5 in 2023) should go up, especially with some minor tweaks to the defensive scheme.

Most mock drafts have had Tuimoloau in the upper teens.

Jack Sawyer – We will stay at the defensive end position and now we can truly talk about Sawyer as an end rather than playing the Jack or some sort of hybrid position. This will be the year that Sawyer will be able to put his hand in the dirt and play his more natural position, something more in line with the instincts that he has developed in the game over the years.

Sawyer had more sacks that Tuimoloau last season but if the defense allows both players to get after the quarterback, it stands to be a very productive year at the position.

The barrier on this one is if Sawyer is not able to make that quick transition back to defensive end and put up those big numbers. He still will have a year of eligibility on the table after this season and is a local son (Pickerington).

Stranger things have happened but many mock drafts like Sawyer in the mid-late teens.

Emeka Egbuka – While so much attention was put on MJH last season, many people forget that Egbuka had a 1,000-yard receiving season, something that used to be rarer than rare in the Ohio State offensive system.

Now? Not as much.

Egbuka had 74 grabs for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns as Ohio State’s second option in the passing game. If Egbuka can mirror that number this season, especially with a new quarterback throwing the ball to him, he will find himself in the upper cut of receivers nationally.

Ohio State’s run of receivers in the league surely doesn’t hurt and the production of his predecessors including Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave carry weight as well.

Early drafts have been placing Egbuka in the early-mid-teens.

Denzel Burke – This should be a great predictor for the season. If Burke is being talked about as a first-round pick, that has to bode well for the team.

If not? Then not so much.

Burke came on to the scene as a first-year player and seemed to be one of the banner carriers for the BIA (Best In America) secondary, even if things were not entirely right as a unit.

2022 on the other hand was a mess for all involved in the cornerback room. Injuries along with some poorly timed mistakes left the Buckeyes vulnerable and it cost the team in the biggest games.

2023 should be a different year, Burke looks like his old self at least through spring and the hopes remain that the secondary will get a few things sorted out.

With the demand for corners, we have seen Burke all over the boards of the early drafts, from the early teens to the late 20s.

TreVeyon Henderson/Miyan Williams – We will put both players together here because we have seen mock drafts each include one or the other.

Is this a case of one evaluator or another picking a running back to win the derby? Ohio State has three backs who will all be likely in their final years when you add Chip Trayanum to the mix.

The one question I really have is are we back to valuing running backs in the first round? Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs bucked the trend in the first round, will an Ohio State running back get the same treatment?

We saw one or the other in late first round picks on several of the mocks that we looked at but not all of them as people still are not sure where the role of running back is in the NFL Draft.

Mike Hall/Tyleik Williams – We put the two defensive tackles together, not for the same reason we did at running back though.

Mike Hall has been on many of the mock drafts for the Buckeyes while Tyleik Williams has made one here or there.

I personally feel that if one succeeds, they both will succeed this year.

Each have their own battles for getting more reps, being either maintaining the proper weight, avoiding the trainer’s room, or just really selling to Larry Johnson that they need more reps and will be good to go for four quarters.

I would not be surprised to see Hall go in the first round with a strong season and if that happens, keep an eye out for Williams who could maybe be a fringe guy if all goes well, and the testing process keeps his stock high.

And finally, a name that I have not seen anywhere but we will see it if the Buckeyes do well this year… and he wins the starting job.

Kyle McCord – Ohio State has not named a starting quarterback as of yet and likely won’t until the fall and going into the Indiana game.

Kyle McCord seems to be the favorite of those who watch the team in terms of being the older player with some experience starting a college game. Additionally, McCord could start in 2023 and with a good year, move on and open the door for Devin Brown.

Is an Ohio State quarterback going to be ignored in the NFL Draft? There was a day and age where the answer was a resounding YES.

Those days are gone now as Ohio State is a quarterback destination.

As a first-year starter, CJ Stroud threw for 4,435 yards with 44 touchdowns on 441 attempts during the 2021 season.

It is not fair to put that kind of pressure on McCord, but we have seen what a first-year starter can do in this system. And we know what is going to be around McCord.

It is rare to end a piece with another sure thing, but I feel extremely sure that if Ohio State wins 10 games next season (a low number in the eyes of Ohio State fans) that McCord will be seeing himself mocked in the middle or higher of the first round of the 2024 draft.

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