When Matthew Baldwin entered the NCAA transfer portal, and announced his decision to leave the Ohio State football program, it quickly left the Buckeyes with serious depth problems at the quarterback position. They had just two scholarship players, and a walk-on on the roster. A little more than a week later those depth problems were just as quickly solved. Within a matter of about 24 hours Ryan Day received word from not one, but two different quarterbacks of their intention to become Buckeyes. Friday evening LaVerne, California native J.P. Andrade announced he will join the Buckeyes as a preferred walk-on. But, the big one came Saturday night when Gunnar Hoak took to Twitter to say he will transfer from Kentucky to Ohio State. All of a sudden the Buckeyes have depth at quarterback.
Andrade threw for over 9,000 yards and 82 touchdowns in his high school career, but didn’t hold a scholarship offer from any of the Power 5 schools. He’s 6’3”, 205 pounds, and the 57th ranked quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class. Many of you are probably wondering why bother with a kid like this. Any of you remember Joe Germaine? When I first saw Germaine warming up before a game with the other quarterbacks I thought, “Who does this guy think he is coming here? He’ll never play a down.” Obviously I was VERY wrong about the eventual 1997 Rose Bowl MVP. So, I’m passing on making any judgement whatsoever on the prospects of Andrade someday being a starter. The best thing I like about him? He WANTS to be a Buckeye. He turned down scholarship offers from smaller schools, and a preferred walk-on offer from Florida because he wants to be at Ohio State. I love guys like that.
Hoak joins the Buckeyes as a graduate transfer, so he can play immediately. He has two years of eligibility remaining, and will be given the chance to compete with Justin Fields for the starting job. I like that Day is giving him a chance to compete with Fields because it will only make both of them better. I don’t doubt Fields will be the starter, but having Hoak ready to play is vitally important. I really thought he’d want to go to a school where he could start immediately. But, he’s from the Columbus area (Dublin), was born at OSU’s hospital, and his dad played for the Buckeyes. He said the opportunity to play for Ohio State is just too good to pass up. Hoak, who is 6’4”, 212 pounds, was 13 of 26 for 167 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in five games for Kentucky last season.
Ryan Day has once again shown he is an elite recruiter; Hoak may have been the best transfer quarterback available. The depth problem didn’t linger on for weeks. Day solved the issue in a hurry, and brought in two guys who are a good fit for the program. He also got a commitment on Tuesday from Philadelphia quarterback Kyle McCord for the 2021 recruiting class. He’s the number eight quarterback nationally.
Thanks to the New York Giants thinking Duke’s Daniel Jones is their franchise quarterback, and a few other teams getting a brain cramp, a couple of Buckeyes get a chance to play together again. The Giants took Jones with the sixth overall pick of the NFL Draft the other day, and passed on Dwayne Haskins. The Bengals did a typical Bengal thing, and passed on Haskins. The Dolphins decided to trade for Josh Rosen instead of taking Haskins. That meant Ohio State’s greatest single-season quarterback fell right into the lap of the Washington Redskins. They took Haskins with the 15th pick of the first round. In the third round they snagged receiver Terry McLaurin with the 76th overall pick. Haskins and McLaurin could not be happier. Buckeye fans are pretty happy about this as well. I know I am, and will make every effort to watch them any chance I get.
Shortly after the Redskins took him Haskins said, “The league done messed up.” He now has a chip on his shoulder. I think the Giants will live to regret passing on Haskins, but I stand by what I said the other day. I was more concerned about where Haskins was going rather then when he was picked. The Redskins are a better team than the Giants right now. Keep in mind they were 6-4 before Alex Smith was lost for the season last year. After he was injured they fell apart. Because the team has two veteran quarterbacks already (Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, who was originally drafted by the Browns), Haskins won’t necessarily be needed to play right away. But, head coach Jay Gruden said he’ll be given the opportunity to win the starting job in camp. That tells me he thinks Haskins can win the job, and be the opening day starter. As for McLaurin, the Skins’ receiving corps is hardly deep with talent. He may not be an immediate starter, but I think you can count on him seeing the field a lot. He could not have been drafted into a better situation.
Will the Jones rather than Haskins decision turn out to be the Giants’ version of the Browns taking Kellen Winslow, Jr. rather than Ben Roethlisberger? It could well be. If the Giants are still struggling in five years, and Haskins does what we expect him to do, New York fans will look back to the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and think what might have been.
Besides Haskins and McLaurin, a total of seven more Buckeyes were taken in this year’s draft. None higher than Nick Bosa, who went with the second overall pick to San Francisco. He’ll be an immediate starter, and impact player. Parris Campbell was taken in the second round by the Colts. They are very excited about his speed, and what he can add to their offense. Dre’Mont Jones was taken in the third round by the Broncos. A tackle for the Buckeyes, he will probably
move outside to defensive end in Denver’s 3-4 scheme. Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn wants a lot of speed on defense, and he got just that when the team drafted cornerback Kendall Sheffield in the fourth round. While he may need time to develop, many think he can be a starter at some point. Offensive lineman Michael Jordan was also taken in the fourth round. The Bengals need offensive line help, and Jordan may be able to play right way for them at guard. Miami took Isaiah Prince in the sixth round. While some think he will take a few years of development before becoming a starter, others think he is a dark horse to start at right tackle as a rookie. It took longer than expected, but Mike Weber was finally taken in the seventh round by the Cowboys. It was well known Dallas was very interested in Weber as a backup to former Buckeye Zeke Elliot.
Those Buckeyes who were not drafted were quickly signed to free agent contracts. Receiver Johnnie Dixon and offensive lineman Malcolm Pridgeon signed with the Texans. Linebacker Dante Booker with the Cardinals. Seattle signed offensive lineman Demetrius Knox. AAF refugees Tracy Sprinkle (defensive tackle), and Marcus Baugh (tight end) have found teams. Sprinkle was signed by the Chiefs; Baugh by the Panthers Who of this group can possibly make a roster or practice squad? My money is on Dixon because of his speed, and Knox because the Seahawks are lacking depth on the offensive line.
Got What They Needed?
There isn’t a team in the NFL that doesn’t go into the draft with a list of needs each year. Some need more help than others. The talk after each draft is how well did each team address those needs. So, just how did the two teams, which are located in the Great State of Ohio (yes Steeler fans, I’ll even take a quick look at your team), do?
The Browns basically used their first round pick on Odell Beckham, Jr., so they didn’t make a choice until the middle of the second round, but they made the most of it. They needed depth at cornerback, and were able to snag LSU’s Greedy Williams. Some thought he would be a certain first round pick, but questions about his tackling helped him to slide. Make no mistake, he’s a lockdown type of corner who will probably see a lot of action in certain passing situations. They got needed help at both inside and outside linebacker; Alabama’s Mack Wilson could turn into a good find in the fifth round. Safety Sheldrick Redwine of Miami is a guy they can move around a lot. He isn’t really excellent at any one thing, but does a lot of things well. I’m not crazy about selecting Oklahoma kicker Austin Seibert. I’ve come to believe NFL kickers should be able to hit field goals consistently from over fifty yards. Seibert was just one of three in his career from that distance. The consensus is the Browns had a good draft. I don’t think it will be as productive as the 2018 draft which produced four starters, but I believe in the choices GM John Dorsey makes for this team.
Ok, I’ll say this up front about the Bengals: I think they’re dumb for passing on a potential franchise quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, but they did address a glaring need by grabbing the best player in the draft at his position. Alabama tackle Jonah Williams was at the top of many lists as the best tackle in the draft, and will provide immediate help along the offensive line. As previously mentioned, Michael Jordan provides help along the line as well. They took a couple of running backs; Trayveon Willams from Texas A&M is one of those Darren Sproles types who can line up all over the place. N.C. State’s Ryan Finley is a quarterback they can develop into a viable option someday. However, no idea what they were thinking taking a blocking tight end in the second round. Drew Sample of Washington has good hands, but I don’t see him being that big of a receiving threat in the NFL. They’ve gotten good grades overall for their cholces.
The Steelers traded up to tenth to select Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. They gave up a lot, their second round pick this year, plus a third round pick next year. A steep price, but they got something they needed; an inside run-stopper. The problem is they also needed cornerback help. Especially since the Browns have added Beckham, Jr., and the Ravens drafted two guys who will really help them. They did get Justin Layne, a high school teammate of former Buckeye linebacker Jerome Baker, in the third round. He’ll help, and can eventually develop into a starter at corner, but I still think the team will struggle to consistently stop teams from throwing the ball. With the pick they received from the Raiders for Antonio Brown, they took wide receiver Diontae Johnson from Toledo. A bit of a head-scratcher to me because I don’t think he’s all that impressive, and there were still much better receivers left on the board at the time. Kentucky running back Benny Snell (4th round) isn’t going to break many long runs, but is a good between-the-tackles runner. Mammoth tight end Zach Gentry from Michigan is a project even when it comes to blocking. They received a favorable grade overall, but most have rated this draft a notch below the Browns and Bengals.
The Buckeyes have now had 81 players taken in the first round. That ties USC for the most ever.
WVU quarterback Will Grier was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round. He’s thought of as insurance for the seemingly often injured Cam Newton. That may be the plan, but I promise Grier has a more accurate arm than Newton.
WVU All-American receiver David Sills was not drafted. There were questions about his speed and ability to separate from a defender, and he was not impressive at Senior Bowl practices. There is a big difference between playing in a conference with bad defenses, and playing in the NFL. Buffalo signed him as a free agent.
Remember Michigan running back’s Karan Higdon’s guarantee of a Wolverine win over the Buckeyes? Well, we all know how that turned out. He then decided to sit out the Peach Bowl in order to protect his draft stock. That idea worked so well he didn’t even get drafted. He signed as a free agent with the Texans.
Speaking of Wolverines we love to hate (don’t we hate all of them?), Chase Winovich was drafted by the Patriots in the third round. Unfortunately many think he fits perfectly into the Pats defensive scheme.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley was drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round. I really believe if he is to make the roster it will be as a safety/special teams player. He’s just not accurate enough to be an NFL quarterback.
Dover’s Cory Contini has been invited to the Bengals’ rookie mini camp. He was a record-setting receiver at Ohio Dominican.
I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the national spotlight; it’s been such a long time coming. When legendary play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick shows up to do your games, you know you’ve arrived. If they continue to get the kind of goaltending they’ve gotten in their first seven playoff games, they have a chance to win the whole thing. Not an outside chance. A legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup. Don’t believe me? Just listen to what NHL insiders are saying. This is just too much fun.