Led by receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, 7 Ohio State football players off to NFL combine

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch
Most NFL mock drafts forecast receiver Garrett Wilson to go in the top half of the first round.

After its COVID-caused cancellation in 2021, the NFL combine returns to Indianapolis this week.

A smaller-than-usual group of seven Ohio State players will participate, headlined by wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

Wilson and Olave are the only Buckeyes projected to be first-round picks. Most mock drafts forecast Wilson to go in the top half of the first round, with Olave projected to go sometime in the middle or late in that round.

Both are considered polished players who can make immediate impacts. Wilson caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, his junior season. He’s known for his ability to make acrobatic catches look routine and elusiveness after the catch.

“I think he's the best receiver in the draft,” said Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout who is a draft expert for the NFL Network. “He can do everything.”

Olave, a superb route runner and deep threat, had 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season.

The other five Buckeyes at the combine are all projected to be drafted, with left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and tight end Jeremy Ruckert most likely to be taken after the wide receivers.

Chris Olave is projected to be picked in the middle or late part of the first round of the NFL draft.

Petit-Frere was superb last season, though his performance against Michigan — like that of his fellow linemen — was a disappointment and hurt his draft stock. He, like Wilson and Olave, chose not to play in Ohio State’s Rose Bowl victory over Utah.

“He's got real quick feet,” Jeremiah said. “He can really work his hands. I thought he just needed to play with a little more strength. He gives a little ground vs. power. But he's got a lot of athleticism. There's a lot of stuff to work with.”

Ruckert is an interesting case. He entered Ohio State as a receiving tight end but worked hard on his blocking and became a complete player. But with the talent at wide receiver, Ruckert was an afterthought in the passing game. He caught 26 passes in 2021 and only 54 in his four-year career.

“He only had 42 targets this year,” Jeremiah said. “He’s not real flashy, not real explosive. But he can help you out in the run game and he's a reliable pass-catcher. I gave him a grade that kind of puts him in that fourth-round range for this draft.”

Tight end Jeremy Ruckert is projected to be picked in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

That also could be near where defensive linemen Tyreke Smith and Haskell Garrett and offensive lineman Thayer Munford go.

Smith has the pass-rushing ability NFL teams covet, but injuries hampered his production. Garrett also battled through injuries last year.

Munford showed his unselfishness and versatility by volunteering to switch from left tackle to left guard in 2021 and had the honor of being OSU’s “Block O” recipient.

But much can change from now until the draft in late April. Players will move up or down draft charts. Next week is a prime opportunity for the seven Buckeyes to make their case.

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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