COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's a long way to go and plenty to do before the NFL draft actually arrives.
But based on the early projections, Johnathan Hankins won't have to wait long to hear his name called.
ESPN.com's Todd McShay unveiled his first mock draft on Wednesday, and the Ohio State defensive tackle figured prominently in it just two days after officially declaring his intentions to forego his senior season. At this point, McShay is forecasting that the massive interior presence up front will come off the board with pick No. 5 overall, a slot that currently would send him to the Carolina Panthers.
Hankins' status with fellow ESPN.com draft expect Mel Kiper dipped a bit late in the season, and his latest rankings have the Ohio State product at No. 17 among all players eligible for selection.
Other notes from Kiper's latest analysis of Buckeyes:
Zach Boren currently rates at No. 2 among senior fullbacks, though his stock is rising after finishing the season at linebacker.
Offensive lineman Marcus Hall is evaluated as the fifth-best junior at guard.
Hankins is currently ranked behind Missouri's Sheldon Richardson, leaving him at No. 2 among juniors at defensive tackle.