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Outlook for Buckeyes entering NFL draft

Andy Gottesman / Multimedia editor

Dane Sanzenbacher

Sanzenbacher most likely will not hear his name called until the third day of the draft. Many projections, such as Pro Football Weekly, have the Buckeye wide receiver being selected in the final rounds.

Sanzenbacher said he is trying not to have any expectations.

“It’s out of my hands,” he told The Lantern. “You get so many different perspectives on who likes you (and) who doesn’t.

“To speculate is kind of dumb.”

In 2010, Sanzenbacher led the Buckeyes in receptions, with 55, receiving yards, with 948, and receiving touchdowns, with 11. He looks to continue that momentum in the NFL.

The biggest question with Sanzenbacher throughout the scouting process is his speed. The 4.59-second 40-yard dash he ran at the NFL Combine tied for the 30th-fastest time among receivers who participated in the drill. He improved to 4.52 seconds at Ohio State’s Pro Day on March 11.

Sanzenbacher tried to downplay some of the knocks on his quickness.

“Some of the best receivers in the league don’t run blazing 40s,” he said after his March 11 Pro Day workout. “But they are good at what they do.”

At 5-foot-11, 182 pounds, Sanzenbacher is undersized for an NFL receiver, but he has the toughness and pass-catching ability to succeed at the pro level. According to Pro Football Weekly, Sanzenbacher has “the smarts, guts and hands to make it as a nuts-and-bolts slot receiver.”

Sanzenbacher acknowledged comparisons to New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker, and former OSU receiver and current Indianapolis Colt Anthony Gonzalez, but said he does not try to model his game after anyone’s.

“They’re great players,” he said on March 11. “But I’ve always just kind of done my own thing.”

Sanzenbacher is the only player in Jim Tressel’s coaching career to win the team MVP and receive the Bo Rein Award, given to the Buckeyes’ most inspirational player. It is intangible qualities like that, that make him an attractive pick in the later rounds. NFLDraftScout.com described Sanzenbacher as “a well-spoken and intelligent leader” and “the type of player coaches want on a roster.”

If drafted, he will join Michael Jenkins, Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr., Gonzalez, Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie as former OSU regular starting receivers to be drafted in recent years.

Sanzenbacher said he will head home at some point during the draft, but he does not have any kind of party or celebration planned.

“I’ll probably just hang out with the family during the weekend and see what happens,” he said.

The chance to be drafted is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Sanzenbacher said. But he admitted the uncertainty helps him keep his emotions in check.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “But it is definitely going to be memorable either way.”

Chimdi Chekwa

Buckeye cornerback Chekwa’s 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine was tied for the eighth-fastest overall time. This speed could make Chekwa the highest OSU player selected after Cameron Heyward. Walterfootball.com plugs him in the third round in its mock draft, but Pro Football Weekly warns that he “could be overdrafted by a team in search of elite speed.”

Chekwa’s wrist surgery following the Sugar Bowl may cause him to slip into the later rounds. The 6-foot-1, 191-pounder said he understands teams will be concerned with his wrist.

“I think all teams, they have to look into it,” Chekwa said after Pro Day workouts March 11. “You have to see when I’ll be back.”

Jermale Hines

The projection for Hines is very spread out. Pro Football Weekly regards him as a “late draftable pick.” However, according to NFLDraftScout.com, Hines has the stature athleticism to “make a team believe he will be a real bargain in the third or fourth round.”

At 6-foot-1, 219 pounds, he is considered by many as a “tweener,” meaning it is unclear whether his blend of size and skills are better fit for safety or outside linebacker. Hines said he sees this as an advantage for his draft stock.

“I feel like I’m very versatile,” he said following his March 11 Pro Day workout. “You can play me at a lot of different positions, and that’s something I feel will definitely help me.”

Brian Rolle

As the NFL draft arrives and months of combines and workouts come to an end, OSU linebacker Rolle is prepared to hear his name called and take the next step in his football career.

“I’m glad it’s winding down,” Rolle said. “I’ll tell you that.”

Ranked as the No. 13 outside linebacker and the No. 157 player overall by CBSSports.com, Rolle is projected to go in the middle to late rounds of the draft.

At OSU, Rolle started his junior and senior seasons at middle linebacker. In 2010, his senior season, Rolle led the defense with 76 tackles. However, being listed at 5-foot-10, 229 pounds, he is considered undersized for the NFL.

Despite this disadvantage, Rolle is quick, athletic and notorious for delivering punishing hits. At the combine, he ran one of the fastest 40-yard dash times among outside linebackers, with a time of 4.56 seconds. His versatility makes him a candidate to contribute in the NFL, likely as a special teams player and as a capable backup.

With the NFL lockout situation still undecided and the coming NFL season in jeopardy, many players are concerned. Rolle, however, understands there is little he can do about it.

“It’d be heartbreaking to get drafted and not be able to go to camp,” he said. “It’s out of my hands.”

Despite all of the uncertainty, Rolle seems confident an agreement will be made.

“I don’t know much about it. … They have to agree on something,” Rolle said. “For me, I let the NFLPA take care of it.”

With draft day here, Rolle is at home in Florida with his family. He is excited, but isn’t too concerned about where he’ll end up.

“I’m not really nervous at all,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”

Bryant Browning

Browning wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, and was unable to participate fully in OSU’s Pro Day. He’s reportedly held meetings with the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, and also reportedly held a workout with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Scout.com has him ranked at 20th for guards in the draft. Browning will likely be a late-round pick and may possibly become an undrafted free agent, but there is no question he will get the opportunity to prove that he can play at the next level.

Devon Torrence

Torrence’s size is ideal for an NFL cornerback. Sports Illustrated says Torrence can play in the NFL immediately in dime packages. Torrence also has experience with the Houston Astros’ farm team, so he could fall back on baseball if he decides football isn’t the route he wants to go.

Ross Homan

Coming off a first-team All-Big Ten season, Homan has earned a reputation as a tough, gritty player who has a nose for the ball. The knock on Homan is that he is undersized for the NFL, at 6 feet, 227 pounds. However, Sports Illustrated reported that some scouts see Homan as a better NFL prospect than former Buckeye and current St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, who was drafted 35th overall in 2009. Scout.com ranks Homan 12th among outside linebackers.

Brandon Saine

Saine had an impressive combine, running a 4.40 40-yard dash and weighing in at 220 pounds. His reputation for good hands will certainly be a huge factor and lead a team to draft him on the third day, especially if that team has a glaring need in that area. Scout.com ranks him as the 25th-best running back in the draft.

Justin Boren

Offensive lineman Boren should be in the flurry of Buckeyes selected on the final day of the draft. NFLDraftScout.com commended Boren’s strength and competitive attitude, and tagged him as a “likely late-round
pick.”

Some scouts are concerned with Boren’s decision to transfer from Michigan to OSU.

“I don’t know how they can question anything where I walked on here,” he said following the Pro Day on March 11. “I had to pay my own way for three years.”

Dexter Larimore

Larimore pumped out 32 reps of 225 pounds at his Pro Day.

Just four defensive linemen at the NFL Combine put up better numbers in that area. Larimore wasn’t invited to the scouting combine.

The Northwest Indiana Times reported Larimore has met with three NFL teams, though Larimore would not specify which ones. Former Dallas Cowboys director of player personnel and current NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt said he was impressed with Larimore’s Pro Day and that he thinks Larimore could go as high as the fourth round in the draft.

 

Thomas Bradley contributed to this story.

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