Buckeyes LB Baker declares for NFL draft

Linebacker Jerome Baker Jr. will be the third Ohio State Buckeye this offseason to leave Columbus early for an NFL career, announcing his intentions Monday on Twitter.

The true junior spent the last two seasons as a full-time starter on the Buckeyes’ defense, stuffing the stat sheet with 155 tackles (17.5 for loss), seven sacks, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a pair of defensive touchdowns in that span. He shined on a big stage in his penultimate college appearance, racking up 16 tackles (two for loss) and a sack in a Big Ten Championship win over Wisconsin.

Baker joins cornerback Denzel Ward and defensive end Sam Hubbard as underclassmen who will leave Ohio State to enter the 2018 NFL Draft, while the school has a few others who could still choose to do so before the Jan. 15 deadline. Redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber previously announced he’ll return for “one more year” with the team.

Most projections peg Baker as one of the better off-the-ball linebackers available in April’s draft, giving him a shot to go in the first or second round.

Four Buckeyes linebackers have been taken in the fourth round or higher in the last four drafts, including two first-round picks (Ryan Shazier in 2014 and Darron Lee in 2016) and a second-rounder (Raekwon McMillan in 2017).

–Field Level Media

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