NFL Draft 2022: Looking at the top Ohio State football prospects

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson, here leaving the field after the spring game April 17, has caught 73 passes for 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons.

The most recent draft class from Ohio State was deep.

Ten former Buckeyes were selected over the seven rounds of the NFL draft last month, only the seventh time in the common draft era that the program had double-digit selections.

But it wasn’t top-heavy. Outside of quarterback Justin Fields, who was picked 11th overall by the Chicago Bears, no other player went in the first round. It was the first time since 2015 that Ohio State didn’t have multiple prospects taken among the first 32 selections.

Could that change in 2022? Though the Buckeyes won’t have a draft-eligible quarterback, there are a few names that could be called on the first day or soon after.

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson is expected to be a first-round pick if he leaves Ohio State after next season.

Garrett Wilson, WR (junior)

Wilson left a memorable impression on NFL talent evaluators while catching passes from Fields at the passer’s first pro-day workout in March. In one particularly acrobatic grab on the sideline, he leapt in the air to snag the ball, keeping both feet in bounds. It was a sequence that replayed often on ESPN and the NFL Network in the workout’s aftermath.

Those ball skills and leaping ability are expected to make Wilson arguably the most coveted prospect from Ohio State in next year’s class, provided he enters the draft following his junior season. Through two seasons with the Buckeyes, the 6-foot receiver has caught 73 passes for 1,155 yards and 11 touchdowns and made his share of plays in the slot and outside, where he will line up this fall.

Chris Olave caught seven touchdowns in seven games last season, including two in a College Football Playoff semifinal win over Clemson.

Chris Olave, WR (senior)

Had he entered last month's draft as once expected, Olave might have joined Fields in the first round. But he said he wanted to return to Ohio State for his senior season to pursue a national championship and develop into a more well-rounded receiver, looking to become stronger in the weight room and “play with more strength.” He called it his biggest area of improvement.

But Olave is held in high regard as a prospect for his smooth route running and big-play ability. He caught seven touchdowns in seven games last season, including two in a College Football Playoff semifinal win over Clemson. With two more grabs in the end zone, he’ll move into the top five of Ohio State’s career leaders in touchdown receptions.  

Zach Harrison was a top-15 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class coming out of Olentangy Orange.

Zach Harrison, DE (junior)

A former top-15 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class, Harrison’s production through two seasons has not matched his billing coming out of high school at Olentangy Orange. But that might change this fall as Ohio State’s staff has identified Harrison as a prime candidate for a breakout season as a junior, and it’s not uncommon for past Buckeyes pass rushers to make sizeable leaps between their second and third seasons.

Coaches see greater determination from Harrison. If he can put it all together in a big third season, there’ll be a lot for NFL teams to like. Listed at 6 feet 6 and 268 pounds, he has the size and lines up at one of the most coveted positions other than quarterback.

Haskell Garrett is returning for a fifth season.

Haskell Garrett, DT (senior)

Taking advantage of the additional year of eligibility given to all players due to the coronavirus pandemic, Garrett has returned for a fifth season, where he could boost his stock after debuting as a starter last fall and only months removed from recovering from a gunshot wound.

One advantage he’ll have over fellow interior lineman Tommy Togiai, who declared early and was drafted in the fourth round, is size. The Buckeyes' spring roster listed Garrett as 6-2 and 300 pounds, which is an inch taller and nearly 10 pounds heavier than Togiai.

Cornerback Sevyn Banks allowed only one touchdown prior to January’s national championship game loss to Alabama.

Sevyn Banks, CB (senior)

Banks stepped into a starting role last season and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. He’ll need more experience as a senior to develop into a high-round selection, and he missed spring practice because of an undisclosed injury, but mock drafts from multiple news outlets have included him in the first round.

Banks’ size is promising for a prospect at 6-1 and 200 pounds, and he allowed only one touchdown prior to January’s national championship game loss to Alabama.

Tackle Thayer Munford is 6-6 and 321 pounds and is regarded for his pass protection.

Thayer Munford, LT (senior)

A so-called “super senior” like Garrett, using additional eligibility to remain for another season, Munford checks a few boxes as a prospect. He has size at 6-6 and 321 pounds and is regarded for his pass protection.

But he’ll likely have to address questions about past back injuries in the leadup to the draft following surgery in 2019. He has been largely healthy for the past two seasons.

Defensive end Tyreke Smith laughs on the sideline during the Ohio State spring game on April 17.

Tyreke Smith, DE (senior)

Pass-rushing defensive ends are always in high demand, and Smith is a defensive lineman like Harrison who received high praise from coaches during spring practice, a sign he could be on the cusp of a breakout season this fall. Injuries have limited him in the past, but a standout senior season could boost his profile.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman

Inside

Fields gets to work with Bears.