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Ohio State football: Buckeyes' pro day showcases 22 players

By Doug Bean, The Sports Xchange   |   March 11, 2016 at 4:54 PM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- NFL personnel came en masse to Ohio State on Friday to watch what might have been an unprecedented collection of talent from one college football program.

Ohio State's version of the NFL Scouting Combine played on its Pro Day at Woody Hayes Athletic Center under the watchful eyes of 133 representatives from all 32 NFL teams and live cameras from ESPN and NFL Network. Among the observers were six head coaches, including Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals.

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They were on hand to see 22 former Ohio State players lift and run and throw and catch. At least 14 Buckeyes have a realistic shot at being drafted next month and possibly six could be selected in the first round.

Of particular interest were several players who are high on draft boards but left the combine in Indianapolis last month with question marks after their performances.

Those with something to prove -- defensive end Joey Bosa, wide receivers Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller and quarterback Cardale Jones -- appeared to do so in the familiar confines of Ohio State's indoor facility.

"Our guys that maybe there were question marks, I think they helped themselves," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

Bosa, ranked the No. 3 overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, improved upon a somewhat underwhelming effort in Indy with four more reps on the bench press to 28. The pass rushing prospect ran the 40-yard dash in the mid-4.7 range, a slight improvement from the combine, and also jumped in with the linebackers during position drills.

Bosa's brother, Nick, an incoming Ohio State recruit, was on hand dressed in Tennessee Titans gear for the occasion, providing a hint about where Joey could end up or at least wishing that his older sibling will be the No. 1 overall pick.

"I think he's done a great job presenting himself to teams," Bosa's father, John, a former first-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins, said. "It was interesting from when I watched him at the combine I could see when I looked at his face there was a lot of stress. I think he looked great today. He looked different; he looked great in drills."

Jones' stock declined to No. 140 overall in the NFLDraftScout.com rankings from as high as the top 20 after he lost the starting job with the Buckeyes during the season and then had to pull out of the Combine in February when he injured a hamstring.

NFL teams have concerns about his leadership and experience, but the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Jones displayed all the necessary physical tools during the workout. He made a variety of throws with quarterback guru George Whitfield looking on, missing only on several deep routes that were overthrown.

The consensus among teammates and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was that Jones made a statement.

"I think Cardale had a great day," Thomas said.

Jones showed no lingering effects from the hamstring injury but was a little more critical of his day.

"I thought I had a B-plus," Jones said. "I missed a couple of passes."

Thomas, another potential first-rounder, appeared faster than at the combine and ran in the 4.4 range after clocking 4.57 in Indianapolis.

"I thought Mike Thomas did outstanding," Meyer said. "I thought Cardale had a great day. His skill set is incredible. He's much more talented than people realize. The bigger issue with him is lack of experience."

Miller was one of several receivers who caught Jones' passes at the end of the session. The converted quarterback continues to work on his pass catching and route-running skills but was most pleased with lowering his 40 time from the combine from 4.50 electronically to 4.35 hand-held.

The former Big Ten player of the year is a wild card of sorts as NFL teams size up his potential. NFLDraftScout.com rates Miller at No. 70 overall and a potential second- or third-round pick based on his talent.

"I'm hearing good things (from scouts)," Miller said.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who clocked a blazing 4.47 40 at the combine, chose not to run again but participated in drills and caught passes from Jones while wearing a warm-up suit. As the top-rated player at his position, Elliott is projected to be drafted in the top 20 and possibly the top 10.

"I won't say I deserve to be a top 10, top 15 pick. That's not my decision," Elliott said. "All I can do is to do what's in my power and that's to go out there and show my ability."

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