Trio of local offensive linemen among 2021 NFL Draft hopefuls

Three offensive linemen from the this news organization’s coverage area are hoping to hear their names during the 2021 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday and lasts through Saturday.

Two of the three seem certain to be picked, likely on Friday night when rounds two and three take place: Josh Myers of Miamisburg and Jackson Carman of Fairfield.

Although Myers is an interior lineman and Carman played tackle in college, they have some similarities.

Both possessing obvious physical gifts, each was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the state of Ohio in their class.

Myers chose Ohio State in 2017 while Carman spurned the Buckeyes a year later and went to Clemson instead.

Both ended up being two-year starters for College Football Playoff participants, and their paths crossed twice with Carman’s Tigers winning the Fiesta Bowl two years ago and Myers and the Buckeyes getting revenge in the Sugar Bowl last season.

Myers has a slightly higher draft grade from, checking in at 6.23 compared to 6.22 for Carman, but in both cases they are considered likely starters in the league eventually.’s Lance Zierlein praised Carman for his development as a pass protector last season and ability to recognize blitzes. He also saw Carman as effective at combo blocks in the run game and powerful in his upper body while questioning his footwork and use of hands and suggesting he is best-suited to play guard at the next level.

The draft evaluator saw Myers as having a need to improve his hands as well but praised him for processing what he sees from moving fronts quickly and being able to adjust.

Of course, a number draft rating sites exists these days, and not all agree.

Pro Football Focus ranks Carman the No. 48 overall prospect in the draft while Myers comes in at 154.

Another writer, former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, ranks Myers 56th among all prospects with Carman coming in at 96th.

The third potential draft pick from the area is more of a long shot, but his being drafted would also be the best story.

Darius Harper was a two-sport standout at Springfield High School from 2012-16.

After starting at center on the basketball team and offensive tackle on the football team, he was a three-star offensive line prospect and the No. 32 tackle in the country according to 247Sports Composite rankings.

Harper’s football offers list reportedly included Kentucky, Boston College, Cincinnati and Illinois, but he chose the hardwood path and signed with Miami University instead.

Harper played in 36 games in two seasons for the RedHawks, averaging 2.5 points per game and 1.9 rebounds before opting to try football again.

From Oxford, he headed south to Cincinnati, where he joined coach Luke Fickell’s squad in hopes of growing into an NFL prospect.

After playing two games for the Bearcats in 2018, he saw action in all 14 in 2019 with eight starts and made the AAC All-Academic team.

Harper started all 10 games last season and earned All-AAC honorable mention.

At 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, he has the type of build that could be molded into an NFL offensive lineman if he gets the chance.

Even if he’s not drafted — and the bottom of the draft figures to be a larger enigma than ever thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic scrambling the season and draft prep process — he could sign with an NFL team as a free agent.

Any of these three local offensive linemen being taken would continue a trend.

Last season, Ross High School graduate Simon Stepaniak was taken 209th overall by the Green Bay Packers.

In 2019, Milton-Union’s Wes Martin was chosen by the Washington Redskins with the 29th pick in the fourth rounds.

Stepaniak and Martin were both standouts at Indiana.

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