Q: What do Ohio State fans and Crossfitters have in common?
A: You don’t have to ask, they’ll tell you.
Bill Belichick’s college scouting tour rolled through Columbus, Ohio on Thursday to THE Ohio State University, where his good buddy Urban Meyer’s coached the team to two Big 10 championships and a national championship since Meyer took over in 2012. Ever since, the Buckeyes have been the same old powerhouse as they were in the Jim Tressel days, and in 2016, Ohio State set a record with an absurd 10 players drafted through the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft.
The cliche of “we don’t rebuild, we reload” is, in Ohio State’s case, completely accurate.
And as such, the Patriots brought out the big guns to Ohio State’s Pro Day: Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio (who was previously seen at Toledo scouting QB Logan Woodside), safeties coach Steve Belichick, and scout Patrick Stewart were all in attendance.
Heavy Patriots presence at Ohio State's pro day today. Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio, Steve Belichick and scout Patrick Stewart all pictured here. https://t.co/eGK8Ea50Dl— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) March 22, 2018
And just like he’s been doing all week, Belichick hopped in to run some drills with the players.
BELICHICK AT OSU: The Patriots head coach was one of the NFL coaches who stopped in to Ohio State's Pro Day today, but Belichick went a step further. He actually ran some of the drills with players. pic.twitter.com/KoC8WINnm9— Jerod Smalley (@JerodNBC4) March 22, 2018
Similar to the University of Georgia’s prospects yesterday, Ohio State’s list of potential draftees reads like a grocery list you made when you were hungry, but with defensive players and offensive linemen, which, you may have heard, the Patriots are a bit short on at the moment. Check this list from NESN out:
Here are Ohio State’s top prospects this spring:
CB Denzel Ward, Round 1
DE Sam Hubbard, Round 1-2
C Billy Price, Round 2
LB Jerome Baker, Round 2-3
DE Jalyn Holmes, Round 3-4
OT Jamarco Jones, Round 3-4
DE Tyquan Lewis, Round 4
SS Damon Webb, Round 7
QB J.T. Barrett, Round 7
LB Chris Worley, Round 7
TE Marcus Baugh, Round 7
As with all the teams we’ve looked at this week, if a prospect is listed as a first-rounder, odds are he isn’t lasting until New England’s pick at 31, barring a whole lot of dominos falling the right way. With that buzzkill disclaimer out of the way, just about everyone except Denzel Ward (assuming he’s gone) could help the Patriots in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and linebacker depth beyond Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy is a must.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard, in particular, seems like he’s right up the Patriots’ alley - at 6’5’’ and 265 lbs, NFL.com calls him a strong edge-setter that also has multiple well-developed pass-rush moves and the classic “high motor”. Fellow defensive end Tyquan Lewis, at 6’3” and 265, also racked up 7 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss and potentially could be snagged on Day 2 or even Day 3 of the draft.
NESN also notes that the Patriots haven’t drafted an Urban Meyer Ohio State Buckeye in the entire era Meyer’s coached the team, and they also touch on the point that your humble columnist has written extensively about before - every Florida Gator the Patriots drafted, traded for, or otherwise picked up from Meyer’s program ranged from bust to unmitigated disaster. So, there’s that.
And now, moving on to one of the more “Well...OK then?” things you’ll hear today, the University of San Diego had a special guest at their Pro Day today: the man behind #comebackszn himself, former Cleveland Browns and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel threw at the University of San Diego's pro day today with 12 NFL teams in attendance pic.twitter.com/gdEjHJJgD4— ESPN (@espn) March 22, 2018
Much love to @USDFootball for letting me come out today. Also big thanks to @justinpriest8 and @RossDwelley for asking me to come throw. Far from perfect but enjoyed it fellas keep pushin #ComebackSZN @georgewhitfield— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) March 22, 2018
ESPN’s Eric Williams reported that 13 teams sent scouts to check out USD’s Pro Day, and of course, New England was one of them.
And according to some of those that were there, Manziel looked halfway decent - and by “halfway decent”, we mean “missed 2 of his 38 passes in a bit of rain”.
Johnny Manziel threw today at the University of Sam Diego.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 22, 2018
12 teams in attendance.
Strong day say those in attendance. pic.twitter.com/A8NAtSO5In
One random detail with Manziel as he relates to the Patriots: that infamous supposed leaked Patriots scouting report on Manziel that came right after the 2014 draft turned out to be fake, so don’t think that’ll factor into any kind of assessment now.
I mean, seriously: how does the entire football world fall for a “scouting report” from BroBible? Come on, guys, do better.
Finally, Notre Dame has not one, but TWO projected first-round picks on their offensive line, so who better than Patriots O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia to head over and see what the Domers prospects are up to?
Dante Scarnecchia and national scout DuJuan Daniels were both present at Notre Dame's pro day today. Two of the best linemen in the draft pictured here: guard Quenton Nelson and tackle Mike McGlinchey. pic.twitter.com/a0VRJeEpa0— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) March 22, 2018
Nelson (6-5, 329) is considered one of the best players in the draft. McGlinchey (6-8, 312) is widely regarded as the top tackle.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) March 22, 2018
Yes, both Nelson and McGlinchey are projected to be gone by the time New England gets on the board at pick 31, but given Scar’s eye for talent and Belichick’s first round drafting record generally favoring big men (on both sides of the ball), take that for what it’s worth.
We’ll keep you posted on where Belichick and the gang end up tomorrow to wrap up the week, at which point the Patriots scouting crew and all of us could probably use a beer.
Enjoy the weekend, everybody.