The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone, and six (now former) Ohio State Buckeyes were selected. Congratulations to all of these young men, thank you for all of your contributions to Ohio State football over the years, and best of luck to you as you embark upon your professional football careers.
As a lifelong Ohioan who has spent the majority of my lifetime in the Cleveland area, the NFL team that I follow the most is the Cleveland Browns. “Follow” is probably the best way to describe my feelings for the Cleveland Browns. Truthfully, my passion for the Browns has never been the same ever since the original franchise
was stolen moved to Baltimore by former owner Art Modell after the 1995 season.
The euphoria of having the Browns come back in 1999 as an expansion franchise was quickly erased by the perpetual ineptitude on display year after year, to the point that I make a conscientious effort to get my lawn mowed or leaves raked on Sundays, as I consider watching Ohio State football, and other college football games, to be a higher priority, and better use of my time.
Part of my frustration with the Cleveland Browns has usually involved their seemingly blatant refusal to consider drafting Ohio State Buckeyes in the NFL Draft. Obviously I am biased as an Ohio State fan, but there have been so many occasions over the years when the Browns would select a player, only to see their rivals within the division such as the Baltimore Ravens (LB Malik Harrison, RB J.K. Dobbins), Cincinnati Bengals (DE Sam Hubbard), or Pittsburgh Steelers (DL Cameron Heyward) happily select Buckeyes and then — surprisingly, I must add, with a heavy dose of sarcasm — go on to have productive NFL careers.
Fortunately, the present front office regime of the Cleveland Browns seems to have learned from mistakes of years past. At present, the Cleveland Browns have CB Denzel Ward and DL Tommy Togiai on the roster. And for the first time since 1965, the Cleveland Browns drafted two Ohio State Buckeyes in the same draft, when they selected OT Dawand Jones and C Luke Wypler.
Before I discuss the draft selections of Jones and Wypler (sounds like a law firm, but I digress), the Browns were also actively adding Buckeyes following the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft. Safeties Ronnie Hickman and Tanner McCalister both signed free agent contracts with the Browns, and I am eager to see how they will do with their respective opportunities.
Browns sign Ohio State’s Ronnie Hickman as undrafted free agent https://t.co/m4mpQqUf8H pic.twitter.com/L2Uzya9tIk— Nathan Baird (@nwbaird) April 29, 2023
Ohio State safety Tanner McCalister is joining Ronnie Hickman as undrafted free agents signed by the Browns https://t.co/pNe8RvMpwq— Stephen Means (@Stephen_Means) April 30, 2023
Onto Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler. It was surprising to me that Jones and Wypler were both drafted later than I expected, but both are coming into good opportunities with the Cleveland Browns.
Dawand Jones has an opportunity to play for a legendary offensive line coach in Bill Callahan. At right tackle, the Browns re-signed Jack Conklin in the offseason to an extension through the 2026 season. Considering Conklin’s injury history, Jones could be well-positioned in the event that he is called upon to fill the right tackle spot for the Browns.
It was a surprise that Luke Wypler declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, and then it became painful to see teams bypass him on days 2 and 3. As the draft progressed, I held out hope that the Browns would select him, and they did in the 6th round. Similar to Dawand Jones, the Browns had to scramble through injuries at the center position in 2022. Nick Harris went down in the very first preseason game, and the Browns were fortunate to have Ethan Pocic ready to go at the position. The Browns re-signed Pocic in the offseason, but Wypler could be an option at center or guard as a backup.
The calls and selections came later than either Dawand Jones or Luke Wypler wanted or anticipated, but they were teammates in college, and now have an opportunity to be teammates as professionals. And thankfully, the Cleveland Browns did not waste chances to select two talented players only about two hours away.