The final weekend of the regular season, which doubles up as rivalry weekend, had some great match-ups, but all eyes were on the big one between the #2 Buckeyes and the #3 Wolverines.
The loser knew that this would cost them a place in the Big Ten Championship game and, more importantly, almost certainly rule them out of the college football playoff.
I’m not sure anyone could have predicted what unfolded here, as a remarkable second half display from Michigan blew Ohio State away 45-23.
We’ll get into the big draft names below and how they fared in this heated rivalry…
Offensively the Buckeyes looked good early on, but as the game wore on they found it much harder to move the ball down the field on a tough Michigan defense.
Quarterback C.J Stroud will shoulder a fair portion of blame for this defeat, but in all honesty he wasn’t helped by his offensive line and a real lack of running game to fall back on.
The stats will show him throwing two interceptions, but these were desperation picks as he tried to spark his team into life. This game certainly won’t define his draft status, he is still one of the most accurate passers in the country and when he stays in structure he looks like an NFL franchise quarterback.
On the other hand, out of structure is a bit of a different story, and a lot of plays when he was under pressure he looked sloppy, but the tools he does have will still have NFL teams drooling over him.
There’s no doubt that the Buckeyes have more stud wide receivers coming through their ranks, but as they aren’t draft eligible yet we’ll move our focus over to the offensive line, where they have a couple of very highly rated guys.
Jones entered the game as a bit of an injury doubt, but played through it, and this may help explain why he wasn’t at his dominating best. He lacked his usual fluid mobility, and although he was still able to toss guys around once he got his hands on them, he was also done a bit too easily by twitchier pass rushers.
NFL teams will know what you’re getting with him, which is a right tackle only, but one who could step in immediately and improve an NFL offensive Line. He looks like a top two round player to me, and possibly as high as the end of the first round if he tests really well.
However, Johnson is a different kettle of fish altogether.
The traits and athleticism he displays are off the charts, but on every watch this year he has had mental lapses, and his rawness is continuously exposed by clever pass rushers.
When it’s good it is exceptionally good, but there are still too many mistakes in him to warrant this top ten hype.
Johnson is helped by a real lacklustre tackle class, which got worse when young stud Olumuyiwa Fashanu of Penn State decided to go back to school, so the temptation is there for him to come out early and possibly be OT1.
If he is a high pick, I really hope his NFL team doesn’t throw him out there on day one, as I think there may be some real growing pains with him. There’s no doubting the talent though…
The Buckeye defense was exceptional for the first half of this game, but the second half saw big plays on busted coverages, and poor tackling and angles on big, back breaking, long touchdown runs.
There are future NFL players all over this defense though and two of them were excellent in this game.
Linebacker Tommy Eichenburg has been an absolute revelation for the Buckeye defense this season. He has gone from a relative unknown to leading the team in tackles in one season, and it’s tough to understand how he didn’t see the field earlier on in his career.
Statistically this was one of his quieter games, but you could still see the read and react speed on his run fills, and his excellent athleticism and sure tackling. This is a guy that has really thrown his name out there, and although he has a year of eligibility remaining, he may want to test the draft waters, as he could easily be a top 75 pick when all is said and done.
EDGE Zach Harrison has been a bit of an enigma during his four years in Columbus.
He was a top end five star recruit but has only flashed that kind of lofty status, never really dominating like his high school tape would suggest he should.
Well, this season the light seems to have come on, as he has shown more high level, consistent play, than ever before. He had both Michigan tackles in fits during this game, consistently beating them outside and inside, and disrupting plays throughout the game.
Despite plays like the one above, he still isn’t the most productive player in the world, but you can see his development in his pass rush plan, and he can win in multiple ways now, making him difficult for tackles to adjust to.
Harrison is incredibly gifted athletically, and with his super size profile (6’6 272lbs) he will certainly appeal to all NFL teams. This is a very deep EDGE group, so he may not go as high as some similar types in recent years (Odafe Oweh springs to mind), but you’d expect someone to pull the trigger on a traitsy, athletic EDGE like this before the end of round two for sure.
The Wolverines boast a very young team, so the future is bright for them beyond this season, but from a NFL draft perspective we don’t have too many guys to gush over for this upcoming draft. We’ll take a look at three guys who are draft eligible, and who certainly helped themselves during this game.
Center Olusegun Oluwatimi was already on my radar, having scored very high grades in his three previous seasons at Virginia. He decided to transfer out of there and opted to come to Ann Arbor, where he has been excellent again, and helped solidify the Wolverine interior line.
The former Cavalier was dominant again in this game, paving huge rush lanes for big plays, particularly in the second half. He is a thick built anchor type, who is difficult to move when engaged, yet still has enough movement to get out and block on the edge, and at the second level. He was up against some pretty talented interior defensive lineman, but managed to really limit the impact they had on the game.
There isn’t a consensus number one Center in this class, but he has done enough over his 3000+ career snaps to be up there in the conversation as the top guy this year.
Cornerback Mike Sainristil has had a very interesting career at Michigan.
Recruited as a cornerback, he spent his first three years as a wide receiver, where he showed ability but wasn’t overly productive in that role. For this season he has gone back over to defense and has been the teams starting Nickleback all year.
You can instantly see that he is much better suited to this role, as he moves really well in space and he has very quick click and close ability.
It’s a difficult position to play, and he has been exposed at times this season, but you can see that with some more time he could develop into a decent prospect in that position.
#0 gave up a couple of big plays against the Buckeyes, including a touchdown, but if he does enter the draft this year I could see a team taking a late round flyer on someone with his kind of skillset and upside.
Like Ohio State’s Zach Harrison, Michigan’s Defensive Tackle Mazi Smith has been a bit of an enigma since arriving on campus.
A four star recruit, he barely played his first couple of seasons, but has been a mainstay on the defensive line for the last two years, flashing big time ability in some games. This was probably his best performance that I’d seen from him in his career. He was unblockable at times, getting in the backfield and regularly disrupting run plays and even getting pressures when the Buckeyes passed. He even lined up as an EDGE on one play, and beat the aforementioned heralded tackle Paris Johnson to the outside, and got in on a pressure. We know he’s athletic, as he was the number one player on Bruce Feldman’s pre-season freak list.
He will test through the roof at the combine, and even with just these flashes he shows, he’ll end up going on day two as players with this type of size/speed profile don’t last long on draft day.
This brings an end to my 2022 season scouting notebooks. It’s been quite a journey from all the way back to that classic week 0 game in Dublin, through to “the game” this past weekend, packed with future NFL talents.
We’ll see where these guys, and the ones mentioned in the previous 12 weeks’ reports, go in the 2023 NFL draft in April.
Find the rest here in the college section of the F10Y site.
Follow Keith on Twitter @LordLucken