Choosing the winners and losers of Ohio States NFL Combine participants

Then-OSU quarterback Cardale Jones (12) on Oct. 3 during a game against Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorFor the past week, Indianapolis was transformed into the football capital of the world. More than 300 players, every NFL team and its army of scouts and a heavy media contingent descended on the Midwestern city for the league’s marquee pre-draft event: the NFL Combine.The combine, which officially concluded Monday, gives players a chance to show off in on-field workouts while also presenting front offices the opportunity to conduct preliminary interviews with prospects. Many on the outside seem to wonder how much stock to place in drills and other measurables, yet the reality is scouts do pay attention. Of the 332 NFL hopefuls in attendance, 14 played college football for Ohio State, the most of any school this year. Here’s a look at some Buckeyes’ performances, and what happened to their draft stock after a week in Indianapolis. Winner: Darron Lee Picking a clear-cut winner from the pool of OSU products is slightly challenging, as no one Buckeye really stole the show. With that said, a handful of players performed well. Darron Lee is one such guy. The linebacker, who left two years of eligibility on the table to turn pro, is slightly undersized, measuring at 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds. But it’s his athleticism that made him so effective as a two-year starter. He showcased his freakish ability in Indianapolis, turning in the fastest 40-yard dash time for linebackers with a 4.47-second sprint. His 33.5-inch vertical was No. 5 and his 11-foot-1 broad jump was the third longest of any player. The knock on Lee is his frame isn’t typical for a physically imposing linebacker, which leads to missed tackles. That plagued him at times at OSU and likely will at the next level if he doesn’t add weight. But with NFL teams committing to the spread offense, Lee’s athleticism makes him valuable in pass coverage. If Lee didn’t show scouts that he’s a top-tier athlete, he would’ve plummeted down draft boards.Since the opposite happened, and he confirmed his top-flight athletic ability, Lee solidified himself as a late-first-round talent, which is why he leaves Indianapolis as a winner. No change: Bosa and Elliott For both Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa, the combine presented a high-risk, low-reward opportunity. Many considered them to be the best players at their respective positions, which meant their workouts could, essentially, do nothing but hurt their stock.After running the 40-yard dash in a solid 4.47 seconds and catching the ball well in on-field drills, Elliott cemented himself as the most well-rounded running back in the draft. He didn’t hurt his stock, nor did he help it, which is why Elliott falls under the “no change” category.The same argument can be made for Bosa, with a slight caveat. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native posted a 4.86 in the 40, which was slightly slower than many expected — including himself, he later admitted on NFL Network. But in the other aspects, Bosa performed really well. His times in the three-cone and the 20-yard shuttle were second among defensive linemen, showcasing his agility. In the broad jump, he jumped 10 feet, tying him for fifth among D-line prospects and displaying more-than-adequate explosiveness. Questions about whether he is best suited for the 4-3 or 3-4 schemes are beginning to swirl, but most experts, including NFL Network’s Gil Brandt, still rank Bosa as one of the draft’s best players, which is all he can ask for on his way out of Indianapolis. Loser: Cardale JonesCardale Jones was hoping to use the combine to showcase to the NFL all the hard work he had been putting in with quarterback guru George Whitfield since the Fiesta Bowl. A pulled hamstring during his second run of the 40-yard dash desolated those plans. Instead of risking further injury, Jones opted to end his combine early, having completed only the vertical jump and 40-yard dash. He did tie for first among quarterbacks with a 36-inch vertical, while his time of 4.81 in the 40 is respectable for a 6-foot-5, 250-pound player. But after losing his starting job midway through the year following a raft of pedestrian performances, Jones’ draft stock could’ve really benefited from dazzling scouts in throwing drills. There is no confusion surrounding whether Jones has NFL arm strength — he does. The questions about Jones are predicated on his intermediate accuracy and if his mechanics are refined enough. He would’ve had the chance to exhibit the progress made in both categories had it not been for the hamstring injury. Jones, who many experts project has a mid-round pick, will now regroup and hope to cash in at OSU’s Pro Day on March 11. Out of all 14 Buckeyes in attendance, it was Jones who arguably had the most to prove, which is why him having to cut short his workout hurts.  Loser: Jalin Marshall When H-back Jalin Marshall added his name to the ever-growing list of Buckeyes forgoing remaining eligibility, head-scratching was at an all-time high. It was a move few saw coming. The combine was a perfect opportunity for Marshall to prove to the world that he’s a polished enough receiver with enough athleticism to get the job done in the NFL. Marshall falls into the category of “losers” solely based on the fact those questions remain. On top of starting the combine at a disadvantage from being only 5-foot-10, he posted a slower-than-expected 4.60 in the 40-yard dash.In the two agility-testing drills — the three-cone drill and the 60-yard shuttle — Marshall performed well, ranking in the top 10 for receivers. Even so, his overall performance wasn’t eye-popping enough to move the needle, keeping his stock relatively low. Marshall, along with his former teammates hoping to keep their value rising, are next set to take part in OSU’s Pro Day. The NFL draft is scheduled to begin April 28 in Chicago. read more

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