Bill Belichick’s Pro Day tour continued on Thursday, this time to meet players from Ohio State.
Considering Belichick’s ties to Urban Meyer, it’s a little surprising that Nate Ebner (2012) is the only Ohio State player Belichick has ever drafted. But a lot of the Buckeyes’ best talent is often unavailable to the Patriots because, well, they’re too high up.
The 2018 draft could be different for the Pats, who currently have the 31st and 43rd overall picks. There’s a glut of draft prospects that would not only fill some needs for the team but be readily available in the first three rounds. And some of those players play in the front-seven or the secondary – the two positional groups Belichick focused on during his visit on Thursday.
Like he has at other stops on his Pro Day trip – Georgia, South Carolina, and N.C. State among them – Belichick led players through drills as he coached them up while also doing his own personal scouting. Here he is working through a drill with the defensive linemen:
And here he is running a drill with the defensive backs, with help from old friend Matt Patricia and Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio:
Who Could Belichick be Scouting?
Well, technically everybody. The only Ohio State prospect who is consistently appearing too high in mock drafts is cornerback Denzel Ward, but you never know. The Pats could still be in the market for a future No. 2 corner to pair with Stephon Gilmore – but Ward looks likely to go in the top half of the first round, so it will take a major move for Belichick to get him.
Elsewhere in the secondary, Belichick got a look at cornerback Trevon Forte and safeties Damon Webb and Erick Smith. But those three aren’t projected to be drafted any higher than the late rounds, if at all.
On the defensive line, there’s going to be more for Belichick to choose from earlier in the draft. Defensive end Sam Hubbard, widely described as an intelligent, high-motor pass rusher, has landed late in the first round or early in the second in some mock drafts. Outside linebacker Jerome Baker may be an option in the second or third. And Jalyn Holmes and Tyquan Lewis should be available somewhere in the mid-to-late rounds if Belichick is interested.
Also, don’t sleep on inside linebacker Chris Worley. He’s a likely seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent, and won’t be a game-changer for the Patriots’ linebacker depth chart. But he certainly profiles as a Belichick kind of player.
We’ll see if this is the year for Belichick to finally take an Ohio State player. He’ll have no shortage of options, especially for front-seven help.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ohio State Pro Day participants via Eleven Warriors