The Cleveland Browns drafted an Ohio State Buckeye from Cleveland in the 2018 NFL Draft and they could do the same in the 2019 NFL Draft.
During the 2018 NFL Draft, it was expected that the Cleveland Browns were going to select a quarterback with the first overall selection. But when it came to their second selection at fourth overall, it was hard to guess the direction general manager John Dorsey would go.
He ended up surprising almost everybody when cornerback Denzel Ward was the team’s selection with the fourth overall pick over edge rusher Bradley Chubb.
Although it was a surprise, the Browns fan base quickly got behind the selection of Ward because of him being a Cleveland native. It also helped that he played his college ball just two hours down I-71 at the Ohio State University.
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Considering his roots in Cleveland and the extended Buckeye fan base, Ward quickly became a fan favorite. For the longest time, it seemed like Browns front office was avoiding players from Ohio State in the draft despite the talent that was being churned out of Columbus. When Ward was drafted, fans that followed both the Browns and Buckeyes were extremely excited.
The selection of Ward seems like it was the exact move the team needed to make. In just his first season, Ward showed the potential of being one of the next best shutdown cornerbacks in the league.
With how well the Ward selection worked out for the Browns, perhaps the Browns front office will be willing to dip into the Ohio State Buckeye talent pool again this off-season. And there is a chance they can do so again in the early rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Like last year, there is another Ohio State Buckeye who played his high school ball in Cleveland that is expected to go early in the draft. Although he is not going to be selected as high as Ward was, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones is expected to be selected in the early rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Cleveland Browns are expected to draft a defensive tackle early in the draft to pair next to Larry Ogunjobi. Ideally, the Browns will be looking for a defensive tackle that can play as the three-technique.
Jones projects to fit right into that role on the defensive line. During his time at Ohio State, Jones used his great athleticism to create problems for offenses in the backfield. He showed great burst and agility that helped him create penetration. In 2018, Jones made 43 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. He also intercepted one pass and returned it for a touchdown.
Although he projects as a three-technique defensive tackle in the NFL, there is a good chance that he will need to add some weight and strength to hold up at the position. Jones was a dominating pass rusher, but struggled against the run. His best chance of success in the NFL as a defensive tackle is being drafted by a team that plays a one-gap defensive scheme.
In the case of the Browns, defensive coordinator Steve Wilks typically has his defensive front playing a one-gap scheme. If Jones were to be drafted by the Browns, this would allow him to play more aggressively up-field, which fits his play style.
Dorsey and Wilks have also said that they want their defensive line to be longer. Although Jones does not have crazy arm length, his measurements make him above average in that category. If Wilks wants a longer, athletic three-technique, then Jones could fit the qualifications.
If the Browns were to draft Jones, it would more likely be in the second round instead of the first. Although he has plenty of potential, he has more holes in his game than the top defensive tackles in the draft class.
For Jones, it would be a dream come true to be selected by the Browns. He played football at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, which is a quick drive from downtown. During his time with the media at the Combine, Jones mentioned growing up as a Browns fan – via Nick Shook of ClevelandBrowns.com.
"“I watched the Browns every Sunday with my dad. It was like our thing: Watch the game, get some food, chill, relax, watch Ohio State on Saturdays. So I mean, kind of how it really started.”“Playing for Cleveland, that would be crazy, that would be like a dream come true,” he continued."
Jones may not be as talented of a prospect as Ward, but there is a chance that he could be another Cleveland native turned Ohio State Buckeye to land with the Browns. He plays a position of need and could be available in the second round if the Browns go with a different position in the first round.
Jones is not the only possibility of a Northeast Ohio native and Ohio State Buckeye being drafted by the Browns. Wide receiver Parris Campbell has quickly shot up the draft boards after his Combine performance, and he has not been quiet about the possibility of being drafted by Cleveland.
But for the Browns fans that spend their Saturdays cheering on the Buckeyes, there is a chance that they could see another talent from Columbus make his way to Cleveland to wear the brown and orange.