Buckeyes, NFL Draft

Top draft prospects in 2017 Cotton Bowl between Ohio State and USC

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes are set to take on the No. 8 USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl tonight, a matchup that is considered one of the most anticipated non-playoff bowls of the season. The game won’t have much of an impact on the overall season for both teams, but I am both will be fighting as hard as possible to win.

The four-team playoff has made games like this irrelevant in a sense as many top draft prospects on teams outside the playoff have shown an increasing propensity to take the bowl season off to avoid injury. That is not the case in this one as both teams have all their prospects playing. In terms of draft prospects, this one is loaded with talent. Lets take a look where Browns fans, who know the importance of April, can key their focus on for this one.

Here are the eligible prospects for both teams.     

Ohio StateUSC
#16 QB J,T. Barrett (SR)#14 QB Sam Darnold (RS SR)
#85 TE Marcus Baugh (SR)#25 RB Ronald Jones II (JR)
#74 OT Jamarco Jones (SR)#80 WR Deontay Burnett (JR)
#54 C Billy Price (SR)#42 OLB Uchenna Nwosu (SR)
#86 DL Dre’Mont Jones (RS SO)#4 S Chris Hawkins (SR)
#6 DE Sam Hubbard (JR)#8 CB Imam Marshall (JR)
#59 DE Tyquan Lewis (SR)#35 ILB Cameron Smith (JR)
#17 OLB Jerome Baker (JR)#94 DT Rasheem Green (JR)
#7 S Damon Webb (SR)#47 FB Reuben Peters (RS JR)
#12 CB Denzel Ward (JR)#45 DE Porter Gustin (JR)
#35 LB Chris Worley (SR)#60 OG Viane Talamaivao (SR)
#21 WR Parris Campbell (JR)
#11 DE Jalyn Holmes (SR)

USC Key Draft Prospects

QB Sam Darnold,#14  (277 of 435 passing, 63.7 percent, 3,787 yards, 26 TDs, 12 INTs): Darnold is a name most are familiar with as the Browns hunt for a quarterback. The fan base is split between three common names: Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield. How Darnold handles the rugged Ohio State defense will play a big part in his draft stock.

RB Ronald Jones,#25  (242 carries, 1,486 yards, 18 TDs): It’s a loaded running back class, and Jones is one of the names to pay attention to. He isn’t the biggest back around, but he plays bigger than his frame. He is explosive and can handle himself in the trenches. Stopping Jones will be Ohio State’s biggest task.

WR Deontay Burnett,#80 (74 catches, 975 yards, 9 TDs): Burnett adds to a middle class heavy wide receiver group for 2018. He operates mainly from the slot and is deadly for Sam Darnold when he gets into favorable one on one match-ups. Watch for Burnett to be followed by Ohio State corner Denzel Ward.

OLB Uchenna Nwosu, #42 (71 tackles, 9-1/2 TFLs, 7-1/2 sacks): A puss rushing specialist, Nwosu will lone up all over the place for USC and will be coming after JT Barrett all night. He is the best name across the USC front.

SS Chris Hawkins, #4 (82 tackles, 6-1/2 TFLs, 3 sacks): Another play USC’s defense uses all over the field. Hawkins will be vital in stopping Ohio State’s quick screen game. He has round three or four potential in the upcoming draft.

Ohio State Key Draft Prospects

CB Denzel Ward, #12 (37 tackles, 2 INTs): Ohio State’s next in line lock down corner has not disappointed in 2017. He is near first round lock and look for Ohio State to use him to shut down half the field tonight.

C/G Billy Price, #54 (6,4, 312): Billy Price is one of the best lineman in Ohio State history, and his record games streak is something special. Price will play either center or guard at the next level and his cerebral approach with high end strength will make him one of the first names off the board at his position come April.

DT Dre’Mont Jones, #86 (20 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 PBUs, 1 sack): A name gathering buzz in a loaded interior lineman class, Jones is just a redshirt sophomore, but he could be playing his last game as a Buckeye tonight. He plays quick and with excellent pad level.

DE Sam Hubbard, #6 (38 tackles, 10 TFLs, 4-1/2 sacks): The perfect frame and skill set for the position, Hubbard could really use a big night to bump his name into first round consideration. He hasn’t quite matched the production his skill set would expect, so tonight will be important for scouts to see his worth.

LB Jerome Baker, #17 (67 tackles, 6-1/2 TFLs, 3 sacks): Jerome Baker has had an up and down season, and his stock is a bit up in the air, but his skill set is undeniable and he will play on Sundays. A big night would help his case.