We know Justin Fields is going to be a star, but what about those whose name didn’t get called on the big stage?
Whew! What a crazy draft weekend. Even though I love the draft, I’m not going to lie — I’m happy it’s over. After hearing about it for the last three months, I’m glad it’s now a thing of the past. I’m also happy that Ohio State had 10 players get drafted, which ties Alabama for most players taken from one school in this year’s draft.
We all know about Justin Fields getting selected at No. 11 and Josh Myers going to the Packers in the second round. However, what about those guys who got drafted on Saturday, during rounds four through seven? Or, those who didn’t even get drafted, but signed as free agents? They deserve the spotlight too, and I’ll showcase a few of them who I believe could make the biggest impact on their teams.
Tommy Togiai, DT (Round 4 Pick 132, Cleveland Browns)
Tommy Togiai and the Cleveland Browns seem like a match made in heaven. Togiai had a stellar junior campaign, finishing with 23 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and three sacks. Togiai defends the run extremely well, while also putting pressure in the pocket.
While the Browns signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson in free agency, they only have one other player at the position signed through next season. Therefore, Togiai could see some playing time this upcoming season, but could also be the long term solution for the Brownies. He could make an immediate impact by bolstering their pass defense, which ranked twenty-seventh in the league last season. I can’t wait to watch the disruption that Togiai has the ability to create this season.
Shaun Wade, CB (Round 5 Pick 160, Baltimore Ravens)
Personally, I was shocked to see Shaun Wade drop to the fifth round. I thought he would go second, possibly third round. Therefore, the Ravens got an absolute steal! A consensus All-American and team captain, Wade brings leadership and talent to this Ravens team. He was Ohio State’s first-ever Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and a two-time all B1G honoree.
Wade had 92 career tackles, 23 PBU’s, and six INT’s. The Ravens’ current slot CB, Tavon Young, has suffered three season-ending injuries in five years. As a result, drafting slot cornerback depth was a priority for Baltimore. Wade didn’t have a great senior season, especially when compared to a phenomenal junior year. He simply could not perform at the same level outside as he did in the slot. Therefore, with a move back to the slot in the pros, he could bounce back and succeed the Ravens current fragile CB.
Jonathon Cooper, OLB (Round 7 Pick 239, Denver Broncos)
I think everyone was happy to see the beloved, two-time Ohio State captain and second-team All-American Jonathon Cooper get drafted. The first recipient of the Block O jersey recorded 75 tackles, 15 TFLs, and 10 sacks during his collegiate career. However, his leadership and character is what truly sets him apart.
Broncos fan blog predominantlyorange.com praises Cooper’s athletic capabilities, pass rushing abilities, and leadership qualities, stating, “Guys like this with some standout traits who come from big schools that are willing to work, play special teams, do what the coaches ask — those are the types of seventh-round picks that stick around.”
I completely agree — he was the glue of the Ohio State defense and I believe he will bring that type of team-driven mindset to the pros as well. Cooper likely won’t play right away, considering the starters Denver already has at LB with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. However, once he gets some reps in and the coaches fully realize what he can bring to a team, I’m sure he’ll be playing in no time.
Justin Hilliard, LB (UDFA, San Francisco 49ers)
Justin Hilliard had battled numerous injuries during his five seasons at Ohio State, before having a fairly impressive senior year despite only playing six games. During that time, he posted 33 tackles, 5 TFL, and picked up a key interception in the Big Ten Championship game against Northwestern.
The former Buckeye captain signed a pretty hefty contract with the 49ers, with a $95,000 base salary guarantee — not bad for an undrafted free agent! Pro Football Focus listed the top 10 UDFA signings, and Hilliard was No 6. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, so he certainly has a lot of talent. Ff he can stay healthy, he could be a nice addition to the 49ers defense. Currently, it isn’t likely that he will get too much time playing with the ones, but he could see a lot of action on special teams initially.
I really think the sky’s the limit with Justin Hilliard if he can avoid further injuries, so I am excited to see what happens with his career.
Blake Haubeil, K (UDFA, Tennessee Titans)
Let’s show the kicker some love!
Blake Haubeil had been the starting kicker for the Buckeyes for the past three seasons. He is extremely reliable, converting on 146 of 146 extra points in his collegiate career. He was 28 of 35 on field goal attempts with a long of 55 yards. His 230 points scored ranks 16th all-time at Ohio State and 10th among kickers! He has the second-best career field goal average in Ohio State history, behind only Mike Nugent.
Even though he went undrafted, he has a real shot at winning the starting kicking job for the Titans, considering the only other kicker on the roster has never kicked in an NFL game. Titans head coach and former Buckeye Mike Vrabel with Haubeil at his side could be a LETHAL combination.