Four Buckeyes make Brugler’s top-50 NFL Draft prospects for 2023


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Dane Brugler from The Athletic — and a longtime guest on the Bucknuts Morning 5 podcast — has released his (*2*). (Note- This is not a mock draft; it is simply ranking the top 50 prospects in order.) Ohio State is well represented, with quarterback C.J. Stroud checking in at No. 3 on the list, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba being pegged at No. 17, left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. being ranked right behind him at No. 18, and defensive end Zach Harrison being ranked No. 40.

Here is what Brugler wrote about Stroud-

3. *C.J. Stroud, QB, (*4*) (6-3, 220)
Stroud certainly benefits from Ryan Day’s offense and the elite talent around him, including a pair of first-round receivers in the 2022 class and a few more coming through the pipeline. But isolating the quarterback and his traits, Stroud’s passing anticipation and even-keeled focus on each play are remarkable. Stroud is a steady and generous facilitator — he trusts that his receivers are going to be where they need to be, and he delivers a catchable ball so receivers don’t have to work too hard for it. I’ll bet on those traits every day.

Here is what Brugler penned about Smith-Njigba and Johnson-

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17. *Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 200)
Last season, Smith-Njigba shared a wide receiver depth chart with the 10th (Garrett Wilson) and 11th (Chris Olave) selections in this past NFL Draft, along with several other future draft picks at the position. However, it was Smith-Njigba who led the Buckeyes in receptions (95) and receiving yards (1,606). Stroud called him (*17*) With only average size and speed, Smith-Njigba isn’t a lock to be drafted as high as Wilson or Olave, but he is a natural hands catcher with the crafty routes and seasoned instincts to be a productive NFL starter.

18. *Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State (6-6, 315)
As a right guard last season, Johnson earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the league coaches. Now, the rising junior will protect Stroud’s blindside in 2022. The Cincinnati native is currently a projection at left tackle, with questions about his timing and technique out in space. But with his size, strength and fluid movement skills, Johnson should be more natural at left tackle and could translate a breakout 2022 season into an early-round draft pick.

Here are Brugler’s thoughts on Harrison-

40. (*5*)Zach Harrison, edge, Ohio State (6-6, 266)
With his impressive physical profile, Harrison looks like he was built in a lab. At 6-foot-6 and 266 pounds, he has almost 36-inch arms, a humongous wingspan (86 1/2 inches) and legit 4.5 speed. Harrison doesn’t play with a natural feel for the edge position and needs to show development as a senior to be drafted this high, but those rare traits will be enticing for NFL teams.

Other notable items

* The two players ranked ahead of Stroud are Alabama DE Will Anderson at No. 1 and Georgia DT Jalen Carter at No. 2.

* There are no Michigan players ranked in the top 50.

* Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is ranked No. 5. The only other two quarterbacks who are ranked are Kentucky’s Will Levis (No. 11) and Stanford’s Tanner McKee (No. 49).

* Only three other Big Ten players made the top-50 – Northwestern offensive lineman Peter Skoronski (No. 16), Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (No. 32) and Maryland OT Jaelyn Duncan (No. 47).

* Two Notre Dame players made the cut- tight end Michael Mayer (No. 15) and DE Isaiah Foskey (No. 20).