Five Ohio State players who could move up NFL draft boards

Ohio State's Jack Sawyer was rated the No. 1 overall recruit by ESPN in the Class of 2021. Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- NFL mementos checker the wall of Ohio State's defensive line meeting room, where position coach Larry Johnson presides.

There's a Chase Young jersey from the Washington Commanders and a split Bosa jersey -- half Los Angeles Chargers, half San Francisco 49ers -- for Buckeyes brothers Joey and Nick. All three defensive linemen starred at Ohio State under Johnson, who has spent nearly a decade on staff after mentoring seven NFL first-round draft picks at Penn State during 18 years there.

If the 2023 season goes well for Ohio State's defensive line, Johnson will have a few more NFL items on his wall next year, and a different group of players sitting before him.

Every college football season includes a group of talents who haven't reached their potential but can climb NFL draft boards if they deliver consistently on game days. Arguably no team has more players who check those boxes than Ohio State, especially in the defensive line room.

Defensive ends Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau were ESPN's No. 1 and No. 5 recruits in the 2021 class, while tackle Mike Hall came in at No. 82. All three have showcased their abilities in snippets -- Tuimoloau, in particular, during an unforgettable performance last October at Penn State -- but each is seeking a season's worth of evidence to win over NFL evaluators.

"I get emotional talking about it because I know exactly what we have the possibility to be," Johnson told ESPN. "I walk into the room jacked up, fired up, energetic, ready to go, because I know if we can do the right thing, we can serve notice to the whole entire country."

Their quest continues Saturday night as No. 6 Ohio State visits No. 9 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC) in one of the season's biggest matchups to date. Ohio State's defensive line group will face one of the nation's best offensive fronts, anchored by NFL prospects Joe Alt and Blake Fisher at tackle.

Here's a player-by-player look at five Buckeyes who could significantly improve their draft standing this season based on the most recent position rankings by ESPN NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr., Jordan Reid and Matt Miller, as well as five others from other teams around college football.