A big week of Pro Days concluded Friday with the Ohio State Buckeyes putting their pro prospects on display.
Many NFL head coaches and big decision-makers were on display to see as many as 6-8 first-round prospects working out. Among those coaches were Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis; all 32 teams were represented and the Bengals had nearly their entire coaching staff on hand.
(Image via the NFL Snapchat account)
After one week of free agency, it's clear which two Buckeyes probably have drawn Cincinnati's interest the most. One of them is a prospect who's been mocked to the Bengals several times this offseason, and that's Braxton Miller.
The former All-Big Ten quarterback moved to wide receiver this past season and showed flashes of becoming a big-time pass-catcher. Miller continued that in January when he was arguably the best player at the Senior Bowl.
Miller has good size for the position at 6'1" and 204 pounds, but his inexperience at receiver and a lack of stats make him a risky prospect in the first round. He finished 2015 with 26 catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with 42 rushes for 260 yards and another score.
He did so after spending his first four college seasons (1 redshirt year included) as an All-Big Ten quarterback and Heisman contender, but switched to receiver this past season to take advantage of his best chance at making an impact in the NFL, not to mentioned OSU was loaded at QB.
Still, wide receiver is a big area of need for the Bengals after Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left in free agency. I don't think Miller goes in Round 1, but maybe he'll slip to the Bengals in Round 2.
Another Buckeyes receiver who could go in the late first or second round is Michael Thomas. Over the course of his college career, Thomas caught 113 balls for 1,602 yards and 18 touchdowns. He led Ohio State with 56 catches for 781 yards and nine touchdowns this season, despite the Buckeyes switching quarterbacks throughout the season and opting for an offense geared more toward the run.
As good as Thomas is, he's still a raw prospect who needs some work before he's ready to be an impact pass-catcher in the pros. He too is someone that's probably a reach with the 24th pick, but would be a great pick in Round 2. CBS Sports ranks him as this draft's 45th-best prospect while Miller comes in at 70th.
That same service as Buckeyes All-American Joey Bosa as the third-best prospect and top-ranked defensive end. He's a fantasy for the Bengals, but don't be surprised if the Browns (2nd pick) or Ravens (6th pick) bring him into the AFC North.
We also probably shouldn't expect Buckeye safety Vonn Bell to get picked by the Bengals. He's expected to go within the first two rounds, but after George Iloka re-signed, this isn't a position needing addressed before Day 3.
Another Buckeyes defender to watch out for is linebacker Darron Lee. He's actually someone who may fall to the Bengals at the 24th spot, but I doubt the Bengals spend a first-round pick on a backer. Lee has been a big part of the Buckeyes' 26-2 record since 2014. He recorded 146 tackles, three interceptions and 11 sacks over the past two seasons, and he should go somewhere in Round 1.
In the secondary, Buckeyes corner Eli Apple will likely go in Round 1 and right around where the Bengals are picking. You could argue this is a position of need with Leon Hall unsigned and Darqueze Dennard coming off a major injury, not to mention Adam Jones is 32.
At 6'1" and 199 pounds with great athleticism, Apple is the ideal prototype for an NFL corner. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compares him to Rams corner Trumaine Johnson, who was one of the NFL's best corners in 2016 before getting the franchise tag this offseason.
One other Buckeye who may be considered in Round 1 is defensive lineman Adolphus Washington. More likely a second-round prospect, Washington is a big-time talent with some off-field issues that will likely keep him from going in the first round.
He's a very versatile guy who can stuff the run and get a good rush on the passer. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein actually compares him to Wallace Gilberry, who had good success in this defense from 2012-13 before age caught up with him.
There isn't another Buckeye the Bengals should consider with the 24th pick, but linebacker Joshua Perry could be someone to look for in Round 2. He's a good inside backer who totaled 105 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks as a senior this past season.
Depending on how much longer the Bengals expect Rey Maualuga to be the man in the middle, Perry could be a good prospect to groom into a starting middle backer eventually.