Colin’s Corner: Best Fit For Every Draft-Eligible Buckeye
The NFL Combine is officially behind us, and it is now a downhill approach until the draft next month. Teams had a chance to see some preliminary drills to help access their prospects, and the pro days will cap off the necessity over the next several weeks. Draft boards are being adjusted and war rooms are filled with debate.
The fate of every team lies within the decisions they will make once commissioner Roger Goodell calls their team name at the podium. When they get to the point of a decision, their choice will involve a former Buckeye on many occasions. In anticipation of that moment, here are the teams that best fit each individual Buckeye in this year’s draft:
Denzel Ward, CB: Denver Broncos
There are two reasons why this makes sense: playing style and youth movement. The Broncos love to put their corners on an island and let them take on the challenge of shutting down their man. There is limited usage of zone defense, and it would match the man-to-man style Ward played during his years as a Buckeye. The youth movement is a new finding with the Broncos as a huge step back occurred on the defensive side in 2017.
The organization realized both Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. are getting older and their play showed it as teams gashed the defense through the air in the second half of the season. Talib was just traded to the Los Angeles Rams, creating an opening at the position. Pair Ward with fellow Buckeye Bradley Roby and you have another round of lockdown corners waiting to take over the first-team defense.
Billy Price, C/OG: Indianapolis Colts
Price needs to go to a team that is drastically short on talent on the interior part of the offensive line. I would not look for teams who need a specific position on the line because that would cause him to fall down the draft board. His flexibility is what makes Price so valuable, and it places him firmly on the front end of the second round.
The Colts have had historically bad offensive lines that have led to Andrew Luck getting injured often. Add another cornerstone to that line and save the future of the franchise quarterback. Price, of course, fits the bill. The first-team All-American is tough, strong and experienced – and knows how to make the calls up front.
Plus, the shoulder injury he suffered at the Combine appears to not be overly serious and he could be full-go this summer. The Colts would be wise to look at this option early in the second round.
J.T. Barrett, QB: New England Patriots
I know this looks completely insane, but think about it for a minute. First off, Bill Belichick loves to take late fliers on the important positions (see: Tom Brady). They need to get a new backup quarterback that fits the system, and Barrett carries every characteristic required. The intermediate passing game and quick releases are the secrets to Brady’s success, and it is an area that Barrett excelled at during his time in Columbus. He was never going to impress anyone with the deep ball, and the Patriots rarely ask that from the QB.
We have not seen that element used consistently from Brady since Randy Moss retired, so the team is used to dealing with an adjusted strategy. Barrett needs to go to a team that will know how to utilize him, and Belichick is the only coach I trust that can do it. You’re not drafting him to be the next Brady, but more so the next Jacoby Brissett.
There is speculation that Barrett may not even be drafted, and that may not be the worst outcome for him considering he would have choices as to which team to sign with as a free agent.
Jamarco Jones, OT: Cleveland Browns
It would be easy to file Jones under the Colts because their offensive line is that broken, but that may not time out well. Plus, there is another team with a big tackle need.
Joe Thomas is flirting with the idea of retirement, and the Browns have zero depth behind him. There are some higher-rated options, but I believe Jones would be a nice discount for a GM that loves to make picks based on value. Jones could take a similar career arc as Thomas, and that will rely on staying healthy.
The Browns had a surprisingly consistent line in 2017, and they should do everything in their power to keep that. At the very least, they need to keep their new QB – Tyrod Taylor – clean in the pocket for the most part, although Taylor can create on the move.
Will the Browns break recent tradition and actually pull the cord for a Buckeye? If so, Jones very well could be the right one.
Marcus Baugh, TE: Oakland Raiders
I came up with this one all due to the system and aging veteran at the position. Jared Cook is getting up there in age, but he is not necessarily on the way out yet. Tight end is a position this team should address in the middle rounds of this draft.
Pairing Baugh with Derek Carr is intriguing, and I feel he could be used heavy in their offensive style. Adding in Jon Gruden as the head coach, and you have a duo that could really utilize the athleticism of Baugh. Snagging him in the middle rounds is a steal because of his versatility as a complete TE.
Baugh excelled as a blocker, but his athleticism was an underrated aspect of his game as a Buckeye. Regardless of where he goes, he will be a great value pick for an organization.
Jerome Baker, OLB: Green Bay Packers
I’m not even a Packers fan, but typing this got me so excited about the possibilities in Green Bay if this happens. Just close your eyes and imagine Baker on the opposite side of Clay Matthews III and rushing the passer. Those two would wreak havoc on the NFC North for years to come.
The presence of Baker immediately would raise the quality of a defense that suffered in the last few years of the Dom Capers era. He needs to develop more in the pass-coverage aspect, but Green Bay’s 3-4 scheme would be a perfect match for Baker, who is comfortable standing up at the line and yet can make plays near the sidelines.
Jalyn Holmes, DE: Carolina Panthers
Here is another situation where a Buckeye could be drafted to replace the aging veteran. The best part is Holmes has the makeup to be a mirror image of the player. Pairing Holmes with Julius Peppers would be beneficial to his future in the league. Holmes has always excelled as an edge rusher, but learning under one the greats would propel his career arc.
Holmes could be a steal in the third-round area, and the Panthers need to pounce on the opportunity to get him. Holmes could stretch to an OLB spot, but his natural fit is a pure edge-rushing DE.
Sam Hubbard, DE: Pittsburgh Steelers
You could easily copy and paste the Holmes explanation into Hubbard’s description. They are such similar players, and would easily excel in similar situations. The Steelers provide an opportunity for Sam to become a star immediately. He is good enough to become their prime pass-rusher from the minute he arrives in the Steel City.
What they lack in historic veterans, they have open spots on the edges that Hubbard could win and start at in his rookie season. Projected to go in the second half of the first round, Hubbard could fall into their lap and become the stereotypical Steeler steal of the round.
Damon Webb, S: L.A. Rams
Webb presents the mid-round option that would fit the needs of the Rams. With The return of Lamarcus Joyner, Webb can either learn from or play with him depending on formations. The defense is the cornerstone of the team, and adding Webb could solidify a secondary that just added Marcus Peters and Talib.
I generally believe he is much better than his projected draft spot, so the Rams’ return on investment good be generous if they select Webb. Projecting which team will draft him is pretty difficult, but he fits the needs of Sean McVey’s defense, run by veteran coordinator Wade Phillips.
Tyquan Lewis, DE: Arizona Cardinals
I have to be honest, this is a complete shot in the dark. I feel Arizona is Lewis’ best fit because they need improvements everywhere except the secondary. They addressed linebacker in last year’s draft, so defensive line could be next on their list. Ever since they lost Calaius Campbell, the pass rush has been absent.
Lewis does not have the speed or power to blow you away, but his technique opens up all the success he saw in college. Chalk that up to Larry Johnson because Lewis made so many strides in development during his five years in Columbus. This is another value pick situation as I feel a team will get second-round talent in this (potentially) third-round or later selection.
Chris Worley, ILB: Cleveland Browns
Worley is a surefire Day Three pick, but has potential is a longtime starter with the right team. I chose the Browns because I see a lot of traits from Christian Kirksey in Worley. They both have an eye for the football and always seem to be around the pile each play.
Worley is the type of guy who could lead a team in tackles due to his instincts. Pairing him with Kirksey in the middle could help the Browns solidify the run defense that improved under Greg Williams.
The other aspect is bringing the hometown kid back to the city. The Browns did this with Donte Whitner, and it energized parts of the fan base. At this point, that has to be one of the many angles from John Dorsey.
It is pretty obvious that many, if not all, fail to happen in the draft next month. All of these scenarios would depend on where each individual team picks, but I have to imagine each team will consider the player I connected them with in this hypothetical projection. Regardless of where each player is drafted, there is a high possibility that all of them succeed. In the Urban Meyer era, the Buckeyes have been prepared for every situation once they have entered the league.