MOBILE, Ala. – Terry McLaurin is in an interesting position this week at the Senior Bowl. The Ohio State wide receiver is being asked questions about other prospects at a time when he's trying to make his case for the NFL.
That's what happens when you played with defensive end Nick Bosa, the consensus No. 1 overall prospect among draft analysts, and caught passes from quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who has been penciled in for the Giants at No. 6 in a handful of early mock drafts, including those from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
McLaurin, the former Buckeye co-captain, is taking it all in stride in Mobile. The questions haven't just come from the media, either. NFL teams want to know all about the OSU underclassmen heading into next month's combine in Indianapolis.
"Those are my guys," McLaurin said after Tuesday's Senior Bowl practice. "They worked really, really hard. I work hard. So when I have a chance to pump them up or myself, I'm going to take the opportunity."
Well, what does he think?
On Haskins, who led the nation in passing yards and touchdowns: "He's a very elite passer. He can make all the throws, is a competitor, and he also is really growing as a leader. I used to always kind of get irritated when people said, 'Well, how are his throws?' His throws are always going to be great, but at that position and he's going into where he's going to be a top-10 pick, he needs to be a great leader. The maturation that he had from TCU (Ohio State defeated the Horned Frogs in the third week of the season), where he was kind of unsure when we struggled on offense, to the 'Team Up North' game (Haskins threw six touchdowns in a 62-39 victory over archrival Michigan), the Maryland game (a 52-51 overtime victory the week before). We were in some dogfights, he was taking over the offense, and I was deferring to him. And that's what you want to see out of your quarterback."
On Bosa, the 2017 Big Ten defensive lineman of the year who suffered a season-ending core muscle injury this past fall: "He's a great teammate. He's always pushing the younger guys. He's a very high competitor. Sometimes our coaches had to pull him back with how hard he goes. He's probably one of the best players I've ever played with.
"To be honest, I understood (why he didn't return from the injury he suffered early in the season). He has a life-changing opportunity, and while we missed him and wished we could have had him, we understood. People couldn't appreciate how serious of an injury it was. Even if he would have possibly been able to come back, it may not have been until the Big Ten Championship Game, and he wouldn't have been 100 percent healthy. So for him to put himself in that situation and not healthy, a 50-percent Nick Bosa is not good enough. We need 100 percent. We understood. We didn't take any offense to it, but we did miss him."
The non-McLaurin questions for McLaurin didn't end there. He is playing on the North Team and has two practices under his belt with Missouri's Drew Lock (No. 23 overall prospect on Jeremiah's top 50 list), Duke's Daniel Jones (No. 24), and Penn State's Trace McSorley (not ranked). McLaurin was asked how they stack up to Haskins.
"They're very comparable," he said. "Obviously I have more of that camaraderie with Dwayne, so it's different in that aspect. But all the quarterbacks on my (Senior Bowl) team can make the throws. Lock has a lot of touch on his passes. The deep ball that he threw me was just right in stride. We've really formed a connection. I've gravitated to him. I've trained with Trace McSorley; he can make all the throws. Then I made some plays with Daniel Jones as well. I haven't quite dealt with our other quarterback (N.C. State's Ryan Finley) as much, but all those guys are NFL-style quarterbacks."
Now for the part about McLaurin, who this week is making a name for himself outside of Columbus, Ohio. NFL.com named him one of five stars from Monday's practice.
"He was toasting people vertically and sharp out of his breaks," NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. "I thought he gave all the cornerbacks a tough time. He was a late add to the roster here, and he really looked good. We weren't hearing any buzz about him coming into today, but with his speed and ability to separate, he's definitely on my radar now. At 6-foot and 205 pounds, he has good size and it looks like he has really good speed. I'm going to go back to the hotel and study more of his tape tonight. That's how much he popped for me."
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah released the fourth edition of his top 50 prospect rankings.