Buckeye Seniors All Over NFL Draft Board

Seventy Ohio State players have been selected in the previous 10 NFL drafts, but only three of those former Buckeyes heard their names called last April. Vernon Gholston, Kirk Barton and Larry Grant likely would have had company had not several Buckeyes chosen to put off the draft for one more season and return to school.

Scout.com NFL draft analyst Chris Steuber assures BuckeyeSports.com the draft is certainly still in the future for several Ohio State seniors.

Steuber projects linebacker James Laurinaitis and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins as potential top-10 picks and rates both the best senior in the nation at his position.

"What's there not to like?" Steuber said of Laurinaitis, who reminds him of a Chicago Bears Pro Bowler. "He's Brian Urlacher, but with better coverage skills. Laurinaitis is a complete linebacker. He's extremely instinctive and has above average ball skills. He's a tremendous force and a sure tackler, a sure top-ten pick."

Steuber calls Jenkins, a three-year starter like Laurinaitis, a pure cover corner and the best player available at a premium position.

He believes the New Jersey native will hear his name called in the top 10 because of the demand for corners with Jenkins' ability, but would like to see Jenkins be more consistent.

"He plays great in a lot of games, and then he will have a stretch where he tails off," Steuber said. "He misses a lot of tackles and I'd like to see him be more physical. He has spurts of physical play, but doesn't challenge consistently.

"I think if Jenkins becomes more aggressive and buys into an NFL defensive scheme that forces him to play up on the line, he will be fine," Steuber added. "But if he goes through the motions and thinks he's going to get 10 picks, he will struggle."

But unlike last year, when Gholston went No. 6 overall to the New York Jets and no other Buckeyes were selected until the seventh round one day later, OSU fans should have plenty of reason to keep watching the 2009 draft even after the first round concludes.

Marcus Freeman, whom Scout rates the No. 4 senior outside linebacker in the nation, projects as a second or third round pick but could move up with an excellent pro day or NFL combine performance.

"I think he's still a work in progress, which is a scary thought," Steuber said. "I think once he's a finished product, he's going to be special, but the inconsistency is there and he has to tighten it up."

In his time at Ohio State, Freeman has played all three linebacker positions, versatility that should serve him well in the NFL.

"He's the kind of freak that could impress in workouts and end up making millions on his 40 time, bench press and action figure physique," Steuber said.

The next Buckeye off the board could be Brian Robiskie, whom Scout ranks the No. 3 senior wide receiver behind Juaquin Iglesias of Oklahoma and Penn State's Derrick Williams.

"He's truly a deep threat," Steuber said. "I don't think he's physical and I don't think he challenges defenders over the middle. I think the team that drafts him has to get him in space. Put him in the slot. Move him around. Find mismatches that take advantage of his skills."

Steuber believe Robiskie could be a late pick in the second round or a third rounder. That is where Steuber ranked OSU left tackle Alex Boone before this season, but a sub-par senior year to this point has Boone sliding on Steuber's board.

"He was better last season," Steuber said. "This season he looks like he's moving in quicksand."

Steuber rates Boone a fourth-round pick and declares that the northeast Ohio native will have to move to right tackle in the pros. Scout ranks Boone the No. 6 senior offensive tackle in the country.

The last of the six Buckeye seniors to appear in Scout's current draft rankings is something of a mystery, too.

Todd Boeckman rates 12th among senior quarterbacks, but Steuber still believes he could be drafted, citing the example of New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, who was picked in the seventh round in 2005 despite serving as a backup at USC.

"Prior to the season, I thought Boeckman would be a third-round pick," Steuber said. "Obviously that's changed. I think he's a seventh-round pick now. I think he has a good arm, not elite, but he can get the job done."

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