In your next sports bet, you will be given a chance to pick the 2013 national champion of college football. Ohio State, ranked second in the preseason version of the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, could very well be that team. You don’t get to be a preseason No. 2 team in college football without owning quite a lot of talent. Here are the three best pro prospects on the Buckeyes at this point in time.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier is the kind of player who simply ends up where the ball and the ballcarrier are. On what was a very shaky and inconsistent Ohio State defense in 2012, Shazier was clearly the best player on the front seven. Football is such an instinctual game, especially on defense, and Shazier had the best instincts of any linebacker or defensive lineman on the Buckeyes. Shazier will be the anchor of the front seven this season. While everyone else on the defensive line and at the linebacker spots will be new, Shazier will return to his position. His experience and savvy will help Ohio State on the field; those qualities should also enable Shazier to stand out in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators, who will be able to notice how he functions as something of a traffic cop and guide for the rest of his defensive teammates.
Braxton Miller is and has been something of an injury magnet at quarterback, and it’s true that he doesn’t run a classic pro-style offense under head coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State, but Miller’s combination of two fundamental quarterback virtues – mobility and arm strength – is precisely what will make him a formidable NFL player in the mold of a Russell Wilson or Robert Griffin. With read-option schemes now emerging in the NFL, Miller’s chances of breaking into the pro ranks are much, much better than they would have been, say, five or six years ago. Miller is an immensely gifted athlete with the pocket presence and other intangible qualities to match. He’s a magician with the football, a deft ballhandler who has learned how to make good decisions on a consistent basis. As long as he avoids significant health issues, he will remain a player who demands and deserves a good, long look from NFL scouts.
A third pro prospect on the Buckeyes is receiver Devin Smith. This player offers a case study that can be frustrating for NFL people to encounter… but one that should not dissuade NFL teams from saying “yes” on draft day if they have a need for an elite wide receiver. Smith made some of the most spectacular catches of the 2012 season. His speed and leaping ability are top-drawer. The problem with Smith is that he drops too many easy passes, but in 2013, he’ll have a chance to rectify that problem and create the kind of resume that will be too spotless for talent evaluators to ignore.
Click here to get a full list of futures for the 2013 college football season.