A glance at the top five Ohio natives in this year’s NFL Draft…
Travis Kelce, TE, Cleveland Heights/Cincinnati – He’s still developing as a tight end, and he missed much of the early pre-draft hoopla while recovering from injury. But Kelce is a big (6’5, 255), fast prospect in the mold of other tight ends who have posted big numbers in recent seasons, so teams see him as a chance worth taking. Kelce has NFL bloodlines (his brother, Jason, is an offensive lineman with the Eagles) and big-time athleticism; if a team thinks he’ll stay healthy and has grown up since 2010, when he was suspended for the entire season, he’ll hear his name called on Friday night.
Kelce is probably a late-second or early-third round pick.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Columbus/Michigan State – A big back (6’2, around 230 pounds) who was Michigan State’s workhorse, Bell giving up his senior season for the NFL was not a surprise. He’s not the fastest back in the draft but he is well-regarded as a polished prospect who can catch the ball out of the backfield and isn’t afraid to block. Most teams are running the ball by committee, and Bell might not bust many 20-yard runs but he will grind out yards between the tackles and punish smaller tacklers if he does get to the second level.
Don’t rule out a team like the Bengals or Packers selecting Bell late in the second round, but it’s more likely he goes somewhere in the third. It just seems like a year that teams are prioritizing other positions.
John Simon, DE/OLB, Boardman/Ohio State – Simon isn’t the biggest or fastest prospect, but no one questions his toughness or college production. Smart and relentless come to mind, too, and the questions center around his best fit from a scheme and position standpoint and whether he’s healthy after a knee injury kept him out of the Michigan game (you know he was REALLY hurt) and he had his shoulder scoped in early February. Simon finds a way to get to the quarterback, and that’s an in-demand skill in the NFL.
Some smart team will take Simon; probably a 3-4 team, and probably late in the third round though his medical report may drop him into the fourth.
Brian Winters, OG, Hudson/Kent State – Tough, smart, athletic and just about everything else the NFL looks for in its offensive linemen, Winters manned the left tackle spot at Kent State but will move inside in the NFL. Just your typical tattooed kid from Hudson, Kent State knew early on it was fortunate to get Winters after bigger programs hesitated. A shoulder injury hampered Winters through the draft process, but he’s proven strong and skilled and showed at the Senior Bowl he’s ready for a transition inside.
Winters is likely a third-round pick, though, where exactly he goes will be determined by team needs and how high the top flight of draftable guards comes off the board.
Zac Dysert, QB, Ada/Miami-OH – His college teams, frankly, stunk in his last two seasons, and so he was both way under the national radar and short of lofty expectations he held for himself and those the eyes of the NFL held for him. Dysert has athleticism, talent and potential, and he’ll be drafted by some team that thinks he’ll eventually put it together. He faces a transition not only from the MAC to the NFL but from a shotgun-dominated college offense, but teams are looking for mobile quarterbacks who can take care of the ball, and Dysert will get at least a shot.
Dysert being selected Friday night late in the third round would be an upset but isn’t totally out of the question. He’ll be gone by the middle of the fifth, and possibly much earlier on Saturday.