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Football: Eight Buckeyes invited to 2017 NFL Combine

Former OSU safety Malik Hooker (24) and redshirt freshman longsnapper Liam McCullough (49) high-five Buckeye fans after their 30-23 overtime victory over the Wisconsin Badgers on Oct. 15. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

A total of eight members of the 2016 Ohio State football team were formally invited to participate in the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis from March 2 to 5. OSU had 14 invites in 2016.

Of the eight, Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are all projected in the first round. The lowest projected pick for OSU — punter Cameron Johnston — has been slotted as high as the sixth round, according to WalterFootball.com.

Wide receiver/running back Curtis Samuel is expected to be the first OSU offensive player taken in the first two rounds of the draft. There are a total of four defensive players, three on offense and Johnston as the lone special teams invite.

Hooker and Lattimore are two of the most polished prospects in this year’s secondary class. Both possess ball-hawk skills in pass defense and Lattimore has the ability to be a shutdown cornerback. Lattimore reeled in four interceptions as the cornerback opposite Conley in 2016, returning one for a touchdown. He is listed as the No. 1 cornerback prospect on NFL.com, with his weakness being his single year of experience.

Hooker is likely to be OSU’s top draft pick and a threat to go in the top five of the draft. He showed an elaborate display of athleticism, breaking a school record with three interception returns for touchdowns. He was third in the NCAA with seven interceptions and is ranked as the top safety prospect.

Conley is listed as the No. 6 cornerback by NFL.com.

Linebacker Raekwon McMillan is projected as a second- or third-round pick. He was an integral part of the OSU defense for the past three seasons, two as a starter, racking up 275 career tackles and 221 as a starter.

Pat Elflein, ranked as the third overall center by WalterFootball.com, will most likely be a mid-round pickup. Although Elflein’s 2017 campaign was full of success, the speed and strength of the three-year starter will be scrutinized during the combine.

Noah Brown, a surprising early departure for OSU, is a bit of a mystery in the draft. A physical receiver who can create space, Brown has limited tape for teams to gauge his skills, making it necessary to have a strong combine performance to impress general managers and coaches.

Regardless, Brown is projected to go in the second or third round.

Michigan led all schools with 14 players invited to the combine.

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