NFL draft | Three Ohio State wide receivers could be within Browns' reach

Steve Doerschuk, Canton Repository, GateHouse Media Ohio
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) breaks a tackle by Oregon State Beavers cornerback Dwayne Williams (4) during the first quarter of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Sept. 1, 2018. [Adam Cairns]

John Dorsey came in like a lion, trading for Jarvis Landry in March of 2018 and for Odell Beckham in March of 2019.

Dorsey took a shot at a 2018 draft steal with Antonio Callaway in Round 4, then got some production out of both Callaway and 2016 fifth-rounder Rashard Higgins.

But what if a wide receiver the Browns' GM really likes is available as he imagines making Beckham and Landry all the more dangerous? Might he take a dip in the Olentangy?

Between two highly-rated Ohio State wideouts, former Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary star Parris Campbell is likely to get picked before Terry McLaurin, although the latter has some staunch supporters. A third Buckeye burner, Johnnie Dixon, could be available in Rounds 4-7.

The 6-foot, 210-pound McLaurin offers durability (54 consecutive games), leadership and big-play intrigue. The former Indiana Mr. Football averaged 20 yards across 35 catches in 2018. The low catch number might make him available when Dorsey is on the clock with the 80th overall pick in Round 3. Campbell is poised to go closer to the range where Dorsey has a pick at No. 49.

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McLaurin, who was in the 4.3s with his 40s at the Combine, can fly. Campbell is even faster. In a 2017 article in Ohio State's The Lantern, Campbell's high school track coach, Dan Lancianese, reminisced about watching Campbell run 40-yard dashes as a St. V freshman.

“I had him run it three or four different times," Lancianese said. "He was consistently hitting 4.3. It was insanely quick. Then I wanted to see how reactive his speed was, so I timed him for the 20, and that was even quicker.”

In the 2018 Michigan game, Campbell turned a little dump pass into a 78-yard touchdown. For the season, he caught 90 passes for 1,063 yards and 12 TDs. Like McLaurin, he was a Buckeye captain in 2017 and '18.

NFL Network mock drafts presented by four analysts sprinkle six different wide receivers in the middle to late part of Round 1.

Analyst Chad Reuter doesn't see Campbell lasting anywhere close to the Browns' pick at 49, sending him to the Ravens at No. 22. Reuter and the three other mock drafters (Charley Casserley, Charles Davis, Peter Schrager) all have Mississippi's D.K. Metcalf as the first wideout off the board, in the 15-21 range.

Davis has Oklahoma's Marquise Brown going to the Ravens at 22. Schrager (Georgia's Riley Ridley) and Davis (Mississippi's A.J. Brown) see receivers going to the Packers at No. 30. Reuter pairs Iowa State's Hakeem Butler with the Patriots at No. 32.

But remember this: The last time as many as five wideouts went in a first round was 2014. A total of six have been taken in first rounds across the last three drafts. Someone will slide.

The 6-foot-5 Butler would present a tall target in a mix with Beckham and Landry (both measured slightly under 6 feet at the 2014 Combine).

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell (a Perry High grad) scoffed at Butler not being named as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, telling the Des Moines Register, "Hakeem is as good as anybody in the country."

In 2018, Butler caught 60 passes for 1,318 (22.0 average). In 2017, he had a 54-yard catch (from former Massillon QB Kyle Kempt) in a 38-31 win over Baker Mayfield's Oklahoma team. In the 2018 Oklahoma game, Butler scored on plays covering 51 and 57 yards.

You never know with Dorsey, but the guess is he fills a need at some other position at 49 and thinks about a wideout with one of his seven other picks, starting at 80.

Six-foot-4 Miles Boykin never had a 100-yard game at Notre Dame until a bowl win over LSU capping the 2017 season. Early in the 2018 season, he racked up 23 catches for 345 yards and four TDs in consecutive wins over Stanford, Virginia Tech and Pitt.

Analysts agree Boykin has some of the best hands in the draft and a good head on his shoulders.

A candidate of local interest is 6-2 Ashton Dulin, who will go down as the only Malone player ever invited to the Combine now that the Pioneers have discontinued football. Dulin had 11 receiving touchdowns in 2018, when he ranked second in NCAA Division II with a per-game average of 194.7 all-purpose yards.

A MAC prospect to watch is 6-2 Anthony Johnson of Buffalo. His 2018 season included a 238-yard, three-TD game against Miami.

Known for taking chances, Dorsey has a full dossier on 6-foot-5 sleeper Jazz Ferguson, who began his career at LSU and finished at Northwestern State.

Ohio State's Dixon got lost amid knee injuries before 2017, then made 16 TD catches across the 2017 and '18 seasons. In the 2018 Big Ten title game against Northwestern, he caught seven passes for 129 yards, a week after delivering a 31-yard TD catch against Michigan.

Georgia State's 5-8 Penny Hart paid a pre-draft visit to Berea and could be a late pick targeted for punt-return duty.

Others to watch include 6-2 Kelvin Harmon of N.C. State, 6-3 David Sills of West Virginia, 6-5 Jalen Hurd of Baylor, 6-2 Emanuel Hall of Missouri and 5-11 Deebo Samuel of South Carolina.

Dorsey is known for spending a fifth-round pick on Tyreek Hill, who hit the 2016 draft tainted by off-field issues. Hill, who made first team All-Pro in 2018, was picked at No. 165 overall. Dorsey has picks at 144, 155 and 170 in this year's fifth round.

In other words, there's lots of wiggle room to take a chance on a wideout who might have fallen for one reason or another.


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