The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, with several Ohio State players reportedly impressing various NFL general managers, coaches and scouts. While the Combine is the not the last opportunity to impress NFL decision-makers before the draft, the conventional wisdom is that it is important to make a strong first impression, if at all possible.
Among the impressive performers was Ezekiel Elliott. Running a 4.47 40-yard dash, Elliott maintained his pre-Combine status as the top player at the running back position headed into the draft. Elliott should be taken sometime in the first round, but it is debatable how high at this point.
Another player who turned heads in a positive fashion was linebacker Darron Lee. Just like his former teammate Elliott, Lee ran a 4.47 40. Lee was considered a borderline first-round selection, but the impressive performances in both the 40 and 20-yard shuttle run at the Combine may push Lee's stock more into the category of a definite Day 1 pick for NFL teams seeking a speedy difference-maker at the linebacker position.
While some Buckeyes leave the Combine on a positive note, others will be looking forward to the designated Ohio State Pro Day on March 11 in Columbus for a chance to impress. Quarterback Cardale Jones was eagerly looking forward to showcasing his powerful throwing arm, but suffered a pulled hamstring on his second 40-yard dash. Jones did not throw, and will need a strong performance at his pro day to regain some positive momentum for his draft stock.
Jalin Marshall ran a slower than expected 40 of 4.60. Marshall is already considered a raw wide receiver prospect, so Marshall also will need to rebound strongly and impress at Ohio State’s pro day.
Braxton Miller falls into a category of both impressing and underwhelming at the Combine. Miller ran a decent 4.5 40-yard dash, but scouts had anticipated an even better time. Miller was the top performer in three other drills (6.65 seconds in the 3-cone drill; 4.07 in 20-yard shuttle; 10.84 in 60-yard shuttle), and scouts were impressed with these results that demonstrated Miller's tremendous agility and change-of-direction skills.
Like Miller, Joey Bosa seemed to both impress and underwhelm. Bosa ran a slower than expected 40 (4.86), which disappointed scouts and the player himself. Bosa had hoped to run in the 4.6 or 4.7 range, and could possibly do so at his upcoming pro day.
Former Dallas Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt seemed pleased with Bosa's overall body of work at the Combine:
Other NFL personnel types, such as Todd McShay and former Bills/Panthers/Colts general manager and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian, were not as swayed with Bosa's performance. NFL Network's Mike Mayock referred to it as a "good day, not a great day."
Again it should be pointed out that the Combine is only one piece of a considerably lengthy pre-NFL Draft process. For several Buckeyes, the process is off to a promising start, while others must continue to work on honing their craft in hopes of making their NFL dreams a reality.
— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.