Despite Lack of Production, Sources See Early-Rounds for Ohio State Receivers
Updated Dec. 8, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
A year ago, the Ohio State Buckeyes sent three wide receivers to the NFL with Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller, and Jalin Marshall. Thomas and Miller were second-day picks who slid in part because the Buckeyes didn't give them a lot of targets in the passing game. Sources say that while production wasn't big for Buckeye receivers this year either, they see early-round potential for two Buckeyes if they declare for the draft.
Junior Curtis Samuel was a dangerous weapon for the Buckeyes, and sources have compared Samuel to Percy Harvin in terms of being a fast, explosive play-maker who is a hybrid wide receiver/running back. Samuel has played well for the Buckeyes this year with 65 receptions for 822 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. On the ground, he has averaged 7.7 yards per carry for 704 yards with eight scores. Team contacts feel that the late first round is still a possibility for Samuel, and he shouldn't last long if he falls to Day 2.
Samuel isn't alone in that portion of the draft, as team sources say that Noah Brown could go early on Friday night if he enters the 2017 NFL Draft. They feel that Ohio State's receiver rotation, running game, and the lack of passing skill at quarterback really hurt Brown's opportunities. Brown had only 30 receptions for 385 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. Four of those scores came against Oklahoma in Week 3. They feel that the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Brown could have a better skill set than Thomas, who has been enjoying an impressive debut for the Saints after being a second-round pick.
Beyond Samuel and Brown, there are other receiving talents at Ohio State. Sources from multiple teams have said that sophomore Parris Campbell has the skill set to be a stud receiver and wowed scouts watching Buckeyes practice.
Some theorize that the lack of production is in part by design to try to get players to stay for all four years because they don't have a big season to push them towards entering the draft. Regardless of that, J.T. Barrett was a running quarterback, and the Buckeyes featured their ground offense. Samuel was their leading receiver, but didn't even break 900 yards or 70 receptions. Eight different players had double-digit receptions, so the Buckeyes really spread the ball around. The lack of production could hurt Samuel and Brown in the draft, but they are so physically gifted that NFL scouts still see them being early-round picks.