If the Ohio State Buckeyes are to return to the college football playoff in 2023, their 2024 NFL Draft class will be instrumental in that development. Read on to learn more about the Buckeyes’ best, most impactful players heading into the 2023 campaign.
Ohio State Buckeyes Roster and Depth Chart Changes
Ohio State’s biggest changes undoubtedly came on offense, with the most notable departure being QB C.J. Stroud. Stroud was selected second overall in the 2023 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, and his loss will force Ohio State to once again transition and adapt at the most important position.
Outside of Stroud, Ohio State also lost its premier slot weapon in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, as well as its starting tackle duo in Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones. The trio of Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming should carry over well at WR, and at tackle, transfer addition Josh Simmons and home-grown veteran Josh Fryar are expected to take over.
On defense, the Buckeyes’ losses were minimal, although the departure of Zach Harrison may sting. Harrison, at his best, was a disruptive force with top-end traits, and there’ll now be pressure on J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer to fill the void.
Opposite Denzel Burke, a young cornerback is expected to succeed Cameron Brown. And at safety, Tanner McCalister and Ronnie Hickman left, leaving Latham Ransom and transfer Ja’Had Carter to reform the unit.
Ohio State Buckeyes NFL Draft Prospects
Kyle McCord, QB
Kyle McCord is unproven, but so was C.J. Stroud before he took the reins from Justin Fields. Ryan Day has proven his mettle as a QB developer, and McCord was a highly regarded recruit coming out of St. Joseph’s Prep. At 6’3″, 215 pounds, McCord fits the prototypical mold and has a big arm, and he was a high school teammate of Marvin Harrison Jr. That QB-WR chemistry could help McCord enter the 2024 NFL Draft conversation.
TreVeyon Henderson, RB
TreVeyon Henderson’s 2021 film paints him as a bona fide first-rounder. Even in 2022, he had many quality reps, but that same elite explosiveness wasn’t always present due to a lingering foot injury. The expectation is that Henderson will be healthy in 2023, and thus, excitement is mounting. At 5’10”, 213 pounds, Henderson has the contact balance, quick vision, vertical improvisational ability, and receiving value to be a strong RB1 candidate.
Miyan Williams, RB
While Henderson battled injury, Miyan Williams thrived in 2022, putting up 128 carries for 825 yards and 14 touchdowns. Williams doesn’t quite have the lateral freedom or receiving upside that Henderson has, but at 5’9″, 226 pounds, Williams is legitimately a bowling ball at contact, with superb balance through tackle attempts. And as his touchdown output shows, that same stubborn contact balance makes him an exceptional goal-line back.
Chip Trayanum, RB
Chip Trayanum was viewed as an ascending prospect coming off his 402-yard, six-touchdown campaign at Arizona State in 2021. A short-lived switch to linebacker in Columbus stalled his development, but Trayanum is still a respectable part of Ohio State’s RB room. At 5’11”, 233 pounds, Trayanum has truly rare mass to go along with very impressive vertical athleticism through lanes, and he can finish runs with physicality.
Marvin Harrison Jr., WR
On my preliminary 2024 NFL Draft board, Marvin Harrison Jr. is the highest-graded prospect, and it isn’t particularly close. The 6’4″, 205-pound pass catcher, who hauled in 77 catches for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2022, is one of the most impressive WR prospects to come out over the past decade. At his size, he’s an unnatural separator with elite burst, sink, and nuance, and he exhibits high levels of control in contested situations.
Emeka Egbuka, WR
In any other class, we’d be talking about Emeka Egbuka as a potential WR1 candidate. His teammate Harrison makes that difficult to entertain this year, but Egbuka himself is also an arguable top-five prospect and an extremely exciting three-level threat at the WR position. The 6’1″, 205-pound Egbuka has all-encompassing alignment versatility and stellar RAC ability with his explosiveness and balance, and he’s also a surgical route runner.
Julian Fleming, WR
Relative to his five-star billing, you could say Julian Fleming has underperformed thus far in his collegiate career. But nonetheless, the 6’2″, 205-pound pass catcher has carved out a place as a respectable complementary threat to Harrison and Egbuka. In 2022, he was able to funnel in 34 receptions for 533 yards and six touchdowns. Fleming has impressive vertical ability with his stride freedom, but he’s also shown promise with his stem work.
Xavier Johnson, WR
He won’t be a premier target in Ohio State’s offense, but Xavier Johnson is, at the very least, an intriguing depth option in the 2024 NFL Draft, especially if he tests well. At 6’2″, 215 pounds, he has special teams experience, as well as proven versatility on offense. In 2022, he caught 13 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns and also added 12 carries for 146 yards and an additional score.
Cade Stover, TE
Cade Stover could go on to be one of the highest-drafted TE prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft, outside of Brock Bowers. At 6’4″, 251 pounds, he has great size, and he’s an exceptional blocker with his angle awareness and physicality. But he shows even more promise as a receiving threat. He can adjust for high passes in stride, and he’s a phenomenal run-after-catch weapon with his lateral fluidity and constant leg churn.
Josh Simmons, OT
Set to take one of Ohio State’s starting tackle jobs, Josh Simmons could be a big riser with the Big Ten stage now beneath him. He was the starting right tackle for San Diego State in 2022. In that role, the 6’6″, 305-pound blocker showed a lot of promise. He’s quick out of his stance, explosive on his kick, and fleet-footed when matching rushers, and he also has the swathing length and flexibility to win leverage battles.
Josh Fryar, OT
It remains to be seen where Josh Fryar will ultimately settle in for the long haul in the 2023 season. The 6’6″, 320-pound blocker took reps at both guard and tackle in 2022. He has the easy athleticism out of his stance to play at tackle, but his length and power drive may translate better on the interior. The difference will come from whether or not he can fix his high pad level. If he can more effectively acquire leverage, he can be a starting tackle.
Donovan Jackson, G
A 13-game starter and a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2022, Donovan Jackson returns as one of the highest-rated interior blockers in the initial 2024 NFL Draft crop. Given his five-star recruit background, it’s no surprise that Jackson is making quick work of his NFL ascent.
Beyond having the necessary temperament and physicality, the 6’4″, 320-pound Jackson also has an incredibly unique frame, with elite natural leverage and proportional length.
Matthew Jones, G
Back at Ohio State for a sixth season, Matthew Jones is on track to play in over 50 games for his collegiate career. Twelve of his 17 career starts came last year at right guard, and that’s where Jones will remain. Even with his experience, Jones is still a fairly inconsistent blocker who also lacks elite physical tools. But if he can improve his balance and tighten his hands to minimize error, he could field interest as a depth lineman at the next level.
Michael Hall Jr., DT
For Michael Hall Jr., production and traits best accentuate his 2024 NFL Draft projection. Hall is coming off a 4.5-sack, 7.5-tackle-for-loss campaign, and he still hasn’t reached his ceiling.
At 6’2″, 290 pounds, he’s very well-leveraged and exceedingly flexible — able to disrupt from 3-tech or 5-tech with his bristling explosiveness and ankle flexion. His ability to both win and capitalize on the leverage battle makes him very dangerous for blockers.
Tyleik Williams, DT
Tyleik Williams fits a different archetype than his teammates Hall and Hamilton, but that could ultimately play to his benefit in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle. At 6’3″, 320 pounds, Williams has the leverage and mass to play 0-tech and 1-tech. But as his career thus far has shown, he’s an exceptional athlete and an able pass-rushing threat at that size, with six sacks and nine TFLs to date through 2021 and 2022.
Ty Hamilton, DT
The younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars lineman DaVon Hamilton, Ty Hamilton is a worthy 2024 NFL Draft prospect in his own right for the coming cycle. At 6’3″, 295 pounds, Hamilton is more streamlined and compact than his brother, and he’s ultimately a different mold of lineman. He can hold up against the run with his well-proportioned frame and absorbent density, but some of his best plays come when he’s able to drive power.
J.T. Tuimoloau, EDGE
J.T. Tuimoloau is a rare type of edge rusher who specializes as a high-level playmaker, not just a high-level pass rusher or run stopper. He has a nose for the football when on the attack, but his unique athleticism at 6’4″, 277 pounds also enables him to stay in playmaking positions. Tuimoloau is still learning how to maximize his power exertion, and without elite bend, that’s key. But he has first-round potential at his ultimate ceiling.
Jack Sawyer, EDGE
Tuimoloau is far and away Ohio State’s top EDGE prospect on the preliminary board, but Jack Sawyer also has early-round upside if he can keep refining his pass-rush arsenal. At 6’4″, 265 pounds, Sawyer’s athletic gifts are visible. He’s quick and fleet-footed, but he doesn’t have elite hip flexibility at the apex, and he can struggle to stack counters quickly. 2023 will be his chance to put it all together opposite Tuimoloau.
Tommy Eichenberg, LB
The arrival of Jim Knowles was great for Ohio State’s defense overall, but perhaps no defender was impacted more positively than Tommy Eichenberg. Eichenberg took massive strides in 2022, racking up 120 tackles, 12 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, a pick, and three deflections. Eichenberg’s explosiveness as a gap-shooter and blitzer is eye-catching at 6’2″, 239 pounds, but he also improved his discipline tracking plays laterally in his junior season.
Steele Chambers, LB
Back for a third straight season as one of Ohio State’s starters at linebacker, Steele Chambers profiles as a potential depth option in the 2024 NFL Draft. He has decent size at 6’1″, 232 pounds, and even though he isn’t the most explosive or fluid athlete, his urgency as a second-level defender shows up. He racked up 77 tackles and 6.5 TFLs in 2022 and should again be one of the first responders vs. the run for the Buckeyes’ unit.
Cody Simon, LB
Chambers has earned more starting reps, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cody Simon’s superior athletic gifts eventually earn him more playing time in 2023. Simon had opportunities as a run-and-chase linebacker in 2022 and flashed extraordinary speed and range for his 6’2″, 239-pound frame. He’s still growing as a player even now, but that combined speed and mass gives Simon tons of untapped potential.
Denzel Burke, CB
There’s no skirting around the fact that 2022 was a slight regression for Denzel Burke, who exploded onto the scene with a tremendous freshman campaign in 2021. But the 6’1″, 190-pound Burke is still very much a CB to watch in the first-round conversation. He can be tighter and more disciplined with his technique, but he offers high-end explosiveness, twitch, and natural ball skills to go along with his length at 6’1″, 190 pounds.
Lorenzo Styles Jr., CB
Quietly, Lorenzo Styles Jr. has one of the most intriguing storylines for the 2024 NFL Draft cycle. Through 2021 and 2022, he was a WR at Notre Dame, accruing 54 catches for 684 yards and two touchdowns over that span. But now, the 6’1″, 192-pound prospect has transferred to Ohio State — his father’s school — and is also switching to CB. His ball skills and disruption radius should translate well, and he also has the speed to carry upfield.
Ja’Had Carter, S
The Buckeyes may have lost Ronnie Hickman in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, but they might’ve gotten an upgrade back in the transfer portal in Syracuse safety Ja’Had Carter. Carter made the move to Ohio State after putting up 36 tackles, three interceptions, and three pass deflections in 2022. The 6’1″, 203-pound Carter shows glimpses of impressive conversion ability at the catch point, and his starting experience yields good football IQ.
Lathan Ransom, S
As a prospect, Lathan Ransom’s ceiling is more appealing than his current state after the 2022 season. While he’s an exceptionally free-flowing athlete at 6’1″, 207 pounds, he can be prone to lapses in coverage, as well as faulty angles in pursuit. Ransom will need to tone down his volatility in 2022, especially at such a consequential position. Nevertheless, he has the coverage athleticism and support ability to be a good player in time.
Josh Proctor, S
Carter and Ransom should be the primary contributors at safety for Ohio State, but Josh Proctor will likely once again factor into the rotation. Proctor is now a sixth-year senior who’s had a unique career — rising as high as an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2020. Since then, he’s mainly been a rotational defender and special teams contributor, but the 6’2″, 205-pound Proctor’s hard-hitting style provides value in both phases.
Parker Lewis, K
With Noah Ruggles gone, the next man up for the Buckeyes at the kicker position is Parker Lewis. Lewis was a kicker for USC for two seasons before transferring to Ohio State in 2022. His best year came in 2021 when he converted on 17 of his 22 attempts (77.1%). He missed only one of his attempts below 40 yards and had a long of 52 yards. At Ohio State, his leg and his ability in clutch moments will be put to the test.
Jesse Mirco, P
The hyperefficient Ohio State offense doesn’t always allow punters to shine, but Jesse Mirco has enough experience to be tracked as a potential option in the 2024 NFL Draft. In 2022, Mirco punted 49 times, with a long of 77 yards and a net average yardage of 41.2. To date, Mirco — a former Australian rules football player — has had 37 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, and he’ll be on the lookout for more coffin corners in 2023.
Ohio State Buckeyes Schedule
- Week 1
- Week 2
Sept. 2: at Indiana Hoosiers
- Week 3
Sept. 9: vs. Youngstown State Penguins
- Week 4
Sept. 16: vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
- Week 5
Sept. 23: at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- Week 6
- Week 7
Oct. 7: vs. Maryland Terrapins
- Week 8
Oct. 14: at Purdue Boilermakers
- Week 9
Oct. 21: vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
- Week 10
Oct. 28: at Wisconsin Badgers
- Week 11
Nov. 4: at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Week 12
Nov. 11: vs. Michigan State Spartans
- Week 13
Nov. 18: vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Week 14
Nov. 25: at Michigan Wolverines
- Week 15