Pro days are bittersweet.
For players, it’s the last time playing on their familiar practice field. As they try to impress NFL personnel, they know they are leaving one life behind as they pursue their dream.
“Coming back this week, I was kind of sad,” quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. said after Ohio State’s pro day Wednesday. “I missed my guys, missed the locker room, missed the team.”Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
That doesn’t mean that Haskins regrets his decision to enter the NFL draft. He doesn’t. That’s not surprising for someone who is a lock to be an early first-round draft pick. But he knows that one chapter is ending, and he, like his 13 Ohio State teammates at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, wanted to leave one final strong impression.
He did. Of approximately 50 sharp and often majestic passes that Haskins threw in front of more than 100 NFL coaches or executives representing every team, only two were off-target. Haskins was disappointed in himself for those two, rating his play only as “solid.”
During Haskins' record-breaking sole season as a Buckeye starter, senior captains Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell made his life much easier. That was the case again Wednesday, although Campbell suffered what is considered a minor injury catching a pass and ended his workout early. McLaurin and Dixon each made several nifty catches as they found an extra gear to track down some of Haskins’ deep balls.
Asked if McLaurin and Dixon made themselves money with their performance Wednesday, Haskins didn’t hesitate.
“A lot of it,” he said. “Terry did great. Johnnie did great.”
Ohio State coach Ryan Day agreed.
“I thought it looked natural,” he said. “It didn’t look forced. Dwayne threw the way Dwayne throws. Our receivers caught the way they catch. You saw Terry McLaurin and Johnnie and those guys work hard to catch the ball and run really fast.”
Day came to Ohio State from the NFL. He understands the significance of having a packed house for pro day.
“It shows you where we’re at in the development of guys,” he said. “The fact we have this many people here in the NFL and the personnel we had in the building today and the show they put on today was very impressive.”
The passing drills were the highlight of the day. The only Buckeye who ran the 40-yard dash was offensive lineman Malcolm Pridgeon.
The rest were content to let the times they put up at the NFL combine stand. Defensive end Nick Bosa, who’ll almost certainly be the first or second overall pick of the draft despite missing most of last season with a core muscle injury, didn’t do any drills after doing them in Indianapolis.
Haskins was long pegged as a likely selection of the New York Giants with the sixth pick. After conflicting reports about the Giants’ interest in him surfaced recently, his destination is more uncertain. Haskins, who spent his pre-teen years in New Jersey as a Giants fan, is taking everything in stride. He said former Buckeyes in the NFL have told him that it’s less important to be drafted early than to go to the team that’s the right fit.
“I’m not really worried about being first or 32nd,” he said. “I just want to go to a great spot, a great team.”
But Haskins’ confidence remains as strong as ever.
“It’s up to the team that wants to pick me, but I feel I’m the best player in the draft,” he said.