Hankins Expects To Be First-Round Pick

Former Ohio State defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins believes he will not have to wait long to be selected during the NFL draft in April. The man they call "Big Hank" is slipping on some experts' draft boards, but the former Buckeye feels he will still be an early selection.

No Ohio State football player has been taken in the top 15 of the NFL draft since defensive back Malcolm Jenkins was tabbed by the New Orleans Saints with the No. 14 overall pick in 2009.

Johnathan Hankins hopes to change that. Whether he will or not remains to be seen.

When Hankins elected in December to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility and enter the draft, many projected him to be among the first dozen or so players taken. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. had him ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the draft at the time, and many other experts had Hankins elsewhere in the top 15-20 picks. Hankins also had good reason to think he'd be taken early because the NFL Draft Advisory Board projected him as a first-round selection.

But for some reason, as tends to happen with some players as the draft nears, Hankins finds himself not as highly-touted as he once was. FOXSportsNEXT.com had Hankins ranked as the No. 52 overall prospect in its NFL Draft Top 100, which was released March 4. CBSSports.com's latest list, updated March 8, has Hankins as the 28th-best prospect. Obviously there is some disagreement among experts on whether Hankins will be a first-round pick, but the 6-2, 320-pound DT believes he won't have to wait long to hear his name called.

"I expect to be a first rounder," Hankins said. "That's one of my goals. If it happens, it happens. If not, I'm going to keep working and get better."

If Hankins is slipping on some draft boards, it unlikely stems from his performance at the NFL combine. Hankins ran fairly well for a man with his frame, posting a 5.31-second 40-yard dash time to go with a 7.59 second three-cone drill and a 4.61 second 20-yard shuttle run. To go with those figures, Hankins posted a 26-inch vertical jump and a 104-inch broad jump.

Hankins chose not to run at Ohio State's recent Pro Day, electing to only participate in defensive line drills in front of scouts.

"I felt good with my numbers I had (at the combine)," Hankins said. "I just wanted to show them my position drills, (show) that I can move my feet and work my hands. That's what I did today."

As for what draft expects are saying about his status with NFL teams, Hankins said he isn't worrying about it because if teams want to know they'd be getting in drafting him, all they have to do is watch game film from his three years with the Buckeyes.

"If you sit down and watch the film, you will see," Hankins said. "I don't really take too much time thinking about what people are projecting me to go.

"I just look forward to working hard and playing."

Hankins said believe he can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense at the next level and can be a defensive tackle that can play anywhere on the line if called upon. Conditioning used to be a problem for the man they call "Big Hank," but Hankins added that he plans to prove he can be an all-down player in the NFL.

"I'm a big guy – 320 (pounds) – and I'm very athletic," he said. "I can move. I'm not just a first-, second-down person. I can play all downs. That's what teams have liked in what they see."

The NFL draft is scheduled for April 25-27 in New York, and until that time comes, Hankins will continue to work to impress scouts.

"I would be blessed just to be picked," Hankins said. "It doesn't really matter. First round? That's a blessing. Hopefully we'll see that happen."

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