When the NFL holds its draft starting tonight, there should be at least three Ohio State names called.
First off, when the NFL invites prospective pros to the three-day event, they are usually the players that we've all heard most of the buzz about when it comes to likely being drafted in the first couple rounds.
Former Buckeye linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby are two of this year's 30 invitees. Alabama and Texas A&M both will have three players there, and Louisville two also. The SEC overall had 11 players invited, while both the Big Ten and ACC had five.
But for the Buckeyes, there's another ex-player seen as a prime pick in the next day or two, and that's their battering ram of a running back in Carlos Hyde.
According to Marvin Fong, who writes for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, "Ohio State's Carlos Hyde should be the first running back taken in the 2014 NFL draft, but it may not be in the first round."
CBSSports.com NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler said that Hyde is "a good package of size and speed that most Big Ten teams couldn't handle, typically breaking the first tackle and then falling forward for extra yards when being taken down."
Brugler ranks Hyde as his top running back in the draft, with a second or third-round prediction, and praised "his balance, quick feet and ability to read blocks and break tackles. The speed, the power, it's all there.
"But he also seems to be the kind of guy that many will view as a steal if he falls very far in the second round."
When Roby was hurt in the last half of the 2013 season, the Buckeye defense suffered without him in the lineup. He's seen as a middle to late first-round selection, but could slip into the second round before getting chosen.
On Shazier, "he's my highest-rated Buckeye in this draft class," said Brugler. "He's so fast, he's so athletic, he brings that physical skill set that you want."
Shazier, who led the Buckeyes in tackles the last two seasons, is expected to be a first-round pick, as Green Bay at 21 and Denver at 31 have shown especially keen interest in him, with the Cardinals at No. 20 and Cincinnati at No. 24 also seeking his services.
The Packers need to shore up their "D," and an inside linebacker is a top priority for them, making the speedy Shazier a "likely option," said the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
However his NFL Network colleague Albert Breer noted that Shazier "could go a little higher than people think. He certainly is a fast-rising prospect. Shazier can definitely succeed on the inside, but is a more natural fit as a 4-3 outside linebacker. He has incredible speed and agility for a linebacker. Shazier has elite coverage skills and range at the position. He's a lock for the first round, with Broncos probably begging for him to fall to 31."
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org