Ohio State tends to produce a ton of NFL talent every year, though the Bengals somehow manage to rarely land Buckeyes in the draft.
The latter part of that concept could change this year with a loaded crop of Buckeyes set to hear their names called during April's draft, possibly in the top 10.
On Thursday, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis traveled the short distance from Cincinnati to Columbus of Ohio State pro day. There, he got to see a number of his fellow head coaches and the abundance of talent on display.
Marvin Lewis, Bill Belichick and Jim Caldwell chatting it up at OSU pro day. pic.twitter.com/CltZDh5K6Q— Pat Chiesa (@PatChiesa) March 23, 2017
NFL HCs at OSU Pro Day:— Eric Seger (@EricSeger33) March 23, 2017
Who the first former OSU player to be drafted will be looks like a great debate between cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Malik Hooker. Both players have been argued as one of, if not the best prospect at their respective positions, and both could hear their names called very early on Day 1 of the draft.
However, safety and cornerback are two positions the Bengals are unlikely to address with the No. 9 pick, though if the Bengals feel either is the best player available when the team is on the clock, that could change.
Still, there are intriguing Day 2 prospects out of OSU, too. Among them is linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who the Bengals have already met privately with.
The Bengals figure to draft a linebacker at some point in this year’s draft, possibly as high as No. 9, though that’s looking somewhat less likely after the Kevin Minter signing. Getting a guy like McMillan in Round 2 would be more ideal so the Bengals could use that No. 9 pick on a bigger position of need.
Another Buckeye who could be in play for Round 2 is Curtis Samuel. The do-it-all running back recorded a team-high of 1,655 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns in his junior season. He was used in a similar role that Urban Meyer once used Percy Harvin for at Florida, so calling Samuel a running back in the NFL might be premature.
And with his 5’11”, 196-pound frame, it’s possible wide receiver is his full-time position in the pros, though he’s far too versatile to contract to just one position. The Bengals ran Samuel’s drills at the pro day, per Katherine Terrell. For what it’s worth, he ran for 771 yards and eight scores on 172 carries this past season in the physical Big Ten.
Another Buckeye in play for a Round 2 pick is cornerback Gareon Conley. The 6’0”, 195-pound Conley, finished his career with six interceptions, 91 tackles and 1 pass deflections. He was a full-time starter over the past two years and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick in 2015.
It’s hard to see the Bengals spending a first or second-round pick on a corner in this draft, but Conley could be someone to watch for on Day 2 if they want one.
The Buckeye that should be drawing the most interest from Cincinnati is Pat Elflein. The versatile lineman received second-team AP All-American honors while starting at right guard in 2015. The team needed him to move to center as a senior, and his play earned him first-team All-American honors, and netted him the Rimington Trophy winner as the best center in the country.
Needless to say, there's a decent chance Elflein ends up being an upgrade at center over the enigmatic Russell Bodine if the Bengals finally address that position. Elflein also has the ability to make an impact at guard, which makes him valuable to a Bengals team that lost Kevin Zeitler this offseason.
One other Buckeye to keep an eye on is wide receiver Noah Brown. He’s projected to be a Day 3 pick and would give the Bengals more depth at wide receiver. He caught 32 passes for 402 yards and seven scores in 2016.
Brown’s frame (6’2”, 218 pounds) makes him a big red-zone target, which the Bengals could use more of in their receiving corps.
Lewis also spent some time today at Lucas High School with their football team today (gotta scout them early!).
But back to the topic at hand, which Buckeye(s) would you like to see the Bengals draft in April?