The Buckeyes lost one of their top rushers in defensive end Nick Bosa last year, but entering the 2019 season with a new head coach in place in Ryan Day, the team remains loaded throughout.
A defensive unit that never lacks talent, the program is now heavily regarded as a defensive back factory. There's once again another one that could work his way into first-round consideration just like many of his predecessors.
The headliner amongst the group though remains on the first level of the defense for the second consecutive season.
CHASE YOUNG, EDGE RUSHER (6-5, 265, JR.)
Pros - From his football IQ to his hand usage, there's plenty to like about Young. The 6-foot-5, 265 pound rusher looks every bit of what his size indicates and he's aggressive with putting his assets to good use. Employs a versatile repertoire of moves that he uses at a sporadic rate that keeps blockers off balance. Proficient hands and powerful base enable him to be a consistent run defender with setting a violent edge that hardly ever allows rushers to circle outside of him. Aware of incoming down blocks from motioning tight ends or receivers and has shown to be capable of avoiding the big hit in his initial pursuit to the ball. Above average first-step, but build up speed is how he's been able to win the corner to bypass the apex of it.
Cons - Has a propensity of attacking the midline of blockers or right down the middle of their body. This results in him becoming stuck with no where to go once his bull rush or move of his choosing isn't effective. Because of his superior athleticism and hand power, he's become accustomed to winning quickly without being forced into working counter moves. Still yet to become comfortable with one that he's found effective, over time he could find a go-to that's potent.
JEFF OKUDAH, CORNERBACK (6-1, 200, JR.)
Pros - Size, length, speed, and attitude. Okudah has everything that evaluators look for when assessing an early round corner. There are glimpses of where you see the potential flash, but finding a common ground will be necessary. More comfortable with crowding the air space of targets off the line of scrimmage, his arm length gives wideouts tons of trouble. When able to land his hands on target areas successfully, there's a large amount of delay with impeding route timing. When remaining patient, his ability to match and mirror are excellent.
Ooozes confidence and isn't scared to let the opposition know when he wins a given rep. Ingredients are all in the blender. It's just a matter of a demanding position coach and himself turning it on and enjoying the fruitfulness of it, which could result in him ending the year as a first-round worthy cornerback prospect. He's at the right institution for this to become a possibility given the product that's come out of the school in years past.
Cons - Due to having an overly aggressive nature prior to the snap, Okudah often becomes overeager, which results in completely missing on press attempts. Patient targets were able to take advantage of this factor while matched up against him and it resulted in explosive plays down the field. Was asked to zone turn a lot with keeping his back to the line while keeping his eyes on the quarterback. Not an area where he exploited much comfort.
JORDAN FULLER, SAFETY (6-2, 205, SR.)
Highly successful resume on and off the field. Two-time team captain (2018 and 2019) that has started 26 consecutive games the past two seasons. Owns a 3.8 grade point average and hopes to follow in the footsteps of his mother one day as a standout musical artist once his playing days conclude. The nephew of David Adkins, who operates under the stage name "Sinbad", from the 1993 TV show and appearances as a stand up comedian.
Pros - Active and rangy on the back-end of the Buckeyes defense. Used in a multitude of ways. Has experience at free and strong safety, but his comfort zone seems to be closer to the box. His instincts and savvy shine when asked to play around the ball. Lots of examples of him used as the spin down safety when rolling the coverage pre-snap. This is where most of his impactful plays have occurred. Tied for the team lead in tackles in 2018 (81) and he was the second-leading tackler in 2017 (70), which shows how active he is as a run supporter.
Cons - When asked to play as a single high safety on the roof of the defense and in man-to-man coverage, some hip stiffness was evident. Frequently required to fly off of the hash in combo coverage, which wasn't his forte. Occupying a minimal amount of grass while also being cautious as an extra box defender is his where his value lies. When in man, Fuller can become handsy, which has drawn multiple flags.
DAMON ARNETTE, CORNERBACK (6-0, 195, SR.)
Prior to the 2018 season, there was a lot of excitement about Arnette. After deciding to return for his senior season, he has a wealth of experience. Starting 25-of-40 games played, many will have eyes on him as a potential late-round selection that could rise as the season progresses.
Pros - Thickly built and physical corner that's spent time on the perimeter as well as in the slot in nickel packages. Possesses the innate ability of being able to transition out of phase and find the ball in flight as he turns his head around while in stride with targets. Embraces contact and has zero problems with coming up and tackling as a run supporter. Flourishes with his patience and allowing wideouts to guide him through route stems. Loves to jump underneath patterns when knowing he has an aide over the top in coverage.
Cons - Opens the gate prematurely and allows targets to threaten him up the field. When feeling in danger, Arnette opens his hips too soon, which allows for more surface areas to run routes. Average hips that can be exposed with multi-level patterns or ones that involve lots of violent directional turns.
ROBERT LANDERS, DEFENSIVE TACKLE (6-1, 285, SR.)
Nicknamed "B.B.", Landers has enjoyed a standout career in 26 games as a reserve among the interior defensive line. Well respected by his peers and has earned a plethora of in-house awards during his career in Columbus.
Pros - Shorter, but thick build. Possesses plenty of body armor and uses his natural leverage to his advantage. Explosive first-step that enables him to disrupt and penetrate when asked to move vertically up the field. Slippery as a pass rusher and makes life difficult for blockers when attempting to re-adjust their hands. Buries his head low and while not ideal, it's a technique that has had positive effects for him prior to tackles for loss attempts.
Cons - Listed at 6-foot-1, but looks slightly smaller. Short arms negatively effects his ability to hold down and maintain gaps. Anchoring down can be an issue due to shorter limbs combined with being a bit undersized. Inconsistent with allowing blockers into his chest, which makes it harder for him to stay in his assigned areas.
MALIK HARRISON, LINEBACKER (6-3, 240, JR.)
Pros - Fundamentally sound and doesn't become extraordinary in his approach. However the scheme is drawn up, that's exactly how Harrison will go about executing the play. Discipline and play soundness remained at a high level. Loves the physical demands of the game and when given chances to strike the opposite color jersey, he makes it an emphasis to make sure that his presence was felt.
Cons - Week-to-week consistency is a frequent problem. Hot and cold play was obvious. Michigan game was easily his best game. Looked like an early round prospect during that contest. Hip flexibility and change of direction skills are his biggest areas of weakness. When having direct paths to the ball, he has the straight line speed in order to halt ball carriers, but the struggles come when asked to defeat blocks and maintain parallel shoulders to the line in order to make plays.
TUF BORLAND, LINEBACKER (6-1, 230, JR.)
Pros - 28 career games played (20 starts) and team captain, his Buckeye career has been a winding journey. Lives up to his name, Toughness is well documented after rupturing his achilles (March 2018), as he didn't miss a game last season. Special teams assassin that has a heavy presence on every unit. Recovered an onside kick to help the team seal a Rose Bowl victory over Washington last season.
Cons - Durability and if he'll ever recover to return back to his pre-injury form will always be a concern in the minds of evaluators. Proven depth, but taking the next step in his development is a level that is yet to be seen. Will have another chance to prove that next season. Staying clean by avoiding contact from climbing blockers in between the tackles is a frequent issue.