Last year, Chase Young was undisputedly the strength of Ohio State’s defense. This was followed by a very strong cornerback group that saw two players selected in the first round of the NFL draft. What is the strength of Ohio State’s defense this year?
We entered the 2019 season with some apprehension about Ohio State’s defense after they underwhelmed in 2018.
It was clear early on that the defense would not be an issue throughout the season. Jeff Okudah was a lockdown corner all season long with Damon Arnette holding down the other side.
And never forget Chase Young. He had some of the best defensive games in the history of Ohio State.
But as the Buckeyes do each year, its time to reload and retool.
There will be some new faces on the defensive line and in the secondary, but the place of strength for the Buckeyes will be the linebacking corps.
Pete Werner and Tuf Borland were starters last year on a unit that was vastly improved from 2018.
Looking ahead, these two players will have another year to grow, develop, and become more comfortable with each other. Combine that with a second year working with coach Al Washington and this position group is held down by two returning starters.
The third presumptive starter will be Baron Browning who was used as a heavy rotational piece last year. This group will be helped by two things.
First is the returning players who played a ton of meaningful snaps last year. That will provide leadership and continuity in an unusual off-season.
The second is that there are plenty of young players who will be pushing for playing time. There is some good depth here with Justin Hilliard, Dallas Grant, and K’vaughan Pope all pushing to be on the two-deep.
Ohio State will have some new faces step up on the defense, but the strongest unit will be the one with the most returning players.