2023 Ohio State NFL Draft Recap

Ohio State NFL Draft

The Ohio State NFL relationship is a long and storied one. To date, 508 former Buckeyes have heard their name called at some point or another during the event. This year, six Ohio State players were drafted with a handful getting UDFA deals after the fact.

With the three first-round talents taken this year, Ohio State became the first program in college football to have 90 first-round players selected. There’s a real possibility that next year’s crop of NFL talent out of Columbus could be even greater, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Some Buckeyes found themselves in advantageous situations, some fell to a few rounds after they were expected to go. All in all, it was a quieter year for Ohio State.

Ohio State NFL Draft Review

C.J. Stroud: Round 1, Pick 2 (Houston Texans)

The first Ohio State NFL Draft selection was none other than the two-year Heisman Finalist, C.J. Stroud. There was some consideration that he was going to go first-overall to the Carolina Panthers, but they elected to go with Alabama’s Bryce Young. Stroud marks the first time a B1G quarterback was selected top 10 since 1995 (Kerry Collins, Penn State) and the first Ohio State quarterback to go second overall; Art Schlicter was the previous record-holder, going fourth overall in 1982.

Stroud brings with him a ridiculous amount of productivity while at Ohio State. He finished with 8,123 yards and 85 touchdowns compared to just 12 interceptions. His greatest asset is his accuracy. Across those two seasons, Stroud completed nearly 70% of his passes and threw a touchdown to 13 different players. He dazzled with precision and frustrated with his seeming unwillingness to just take off and run.

In total, Stroud owns three Big Ten records (two single-season, one career), 13 Ohio State records (three single-game, six single-season, and four career), and five Rose Bowl records for his performance on New Year’s 2022.

In Houston, it’s going to be tough, to put it lightly. That is not a franchise that is built to win at this moment. They are still a few years away from contending…that is, of course, if they don’t fire Head Coach DeMeco Ryans after one year as they have done with the previous two coaches.

Despite all of his accolades, Stroud leaves Columbus 0-2 in The Game that matters. Given, neither loss falls squarely on his shoulders as he was not the one who allowed 304 yards on just four plays.

Full NFL Draft scouting report

Paris Johnson, Jr.: Round 1, Pick 6 (Arizona Cardinals)

The first tackle off of the board was the Buckeyes’ left tackle, Paris Johnson, Jr. After three years at Ohio State, Johnson was considered just about anything a coach would want out of their franchise left tackle.

He came into Columbus ready to step into a role with the Buckeyes’ offensive line but only appeared in five games as a true freshman. Of those, they include the CFP National Title Game against Alabama. After starting as the left guard, Johnson was moved to be the starting right guard in 2021. As a guard, Johnson, Jr played 768 snaps across 13 games and allowed 13 quarterback hurries and a single quarterback hit. He did not allow a single sack during the entire 2021 season.

For the 2022 season, Johnson, Jr was moved to his more natural position at left tackle. There, he continued to play at an elite level, shutting down opposing pass rushes and helping protect Stroud en route to one of the best offenses in the nation. In total, he finished with 827 snaps and allowed just nine quarterback hits and a pair of sacks. Those two sacks came late in the year, however, to Michigan and then Georgia in the CFP.

He’s pretty athletic for his size and will serve well in an offense led by Kyler Murray (or Caleb Williams if the Cardinals “win” that sweepstakes). It’s going to be interesting seeing the towering 6’6″ Johnson in the huddle getting commands from the 5-10 Murray.

Full NFL Draft scouting report

Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Round 1, Pick 20 (Seattle Seahawks)

The third Buckeye taken in the first round is none other than JSN. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a ridiculously productive year in 2021. Despite sharing targets with future first-rounders, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Smith-Njigba reeled in 95 passes for a whopping 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns.

Everyone remembers his legendary effort in the Rose Bowl where he gashed Utah to the tune of 347 yards and three touchdowns. That was his first action as a true WR1 in the Ohio State offense and he left no doubt.

2022 was a story of what could have been. After suffering a hamstring injury that plagued him all season, Smith-Njigba was a non-factor in an offense that while it did not need him, could have used his services.

JSN was the first wide receiver drafted in what was considered a weaker receiver class. Weak or not, it’s still impressive to be a first-round pick. He’s an incredibly polished route runner and is a home run threat on every play despite not possessing otherworldly speed. The most impressive thing was his ability to be uber-productive with two other stud receivers demanding respect.

In Seattle, Smith-Njigba will have another opportunity to take advantage of defenses that may be otherwise distracted by D.K. Metcalf. The Seahawks’ offense was impressive in 2022, adding a talent like Smith-Njigba could put them over the edge.

Full NFL Draft scouting report

Zach Harrison: Round 3, Pick 75 (Atlanta Falcons)

There were 55 picks between Ohio State NFL Draft selections and Zach Harrison capped off his collegiate career by getting selected 75th overall by the Atlanta Falcons.

It was believed that Harrison was going to be the next great edge rusher out of Ohio State. After four years in the Ohio State program, Harrison was less like Chase Young or a Bosa and more of a guy who could never truly break out. Despite all of the attention paid to guys like J.T. Tuimoloau, Harrison never really took over a game.

If teams drafted on production alone, Harrison may not have heard his name called. In four years, Harrison managed just 11 sacks. Young, in his second-best single year, managed 10.5 sacks. Plus, he had to do that without Nick Bosa opposite him for most of the year.

Harrison looks the part of an NFL edge rusher. However, he will have to do it without the usual production. He projects as a solid rotational piece in Atlanta. He gets to learn behind one of the better pass rushers in the league, Calais Campbell.

Full NFL Draft scouting report

Dawand Jones: Round 4, Pick 111 (Cleveland Browns)

Big Thanos himself, Dawand Jones only needs to go up I-71 from Columbus to get to his new home. In terms of talent and tape, Jones could have been a late first or early second-round pick. But there were questions about his weight. Additionally, there were concerns about his incomplete testing profile.

It took him until his junior year to make an impact and what an impact it was. Against all defenders not named Aidan Hutchinson, Jones posted a clean sheet. Given, in one game, Hutchinson dominated to the tune of three sacks on Jones alone.

Thanks to the NFL Draft, Hutchinson was no longer at Michigan, so Jones went the entire 2022 season without allowing a sack.

If Jones were a prospect in the draft 20-30 years ago when people cared less about profiles and analytics, Jones may have been an early pick. However, the concerns were too much.

Overall, the Browns are getting an incredibly strong, willing blocker who has plenty of experience. If there is any team who could get the most out of a guy like Jones, it’s the Browns and their stellar offensive line.

Full NFL Draft scouting report

Luke Wypler: Round 6, Pick 190 (Cleveland Browns)

Finally, rounding out the Ohio State NFL draft class, Luke Wypler took a chance by declaring early.

Wypler left Ohio State as a two-year starter and was about as solid as can be. Across those two seasons, Wypler played 1,687 snaps and allowed just one sack, one quarterback hit, and 14 hurries.

As a prospect, Wypler is solid but nothing overly special. However, he’s fundamentally sound, has strong and quick hands, and is a sound communicator. The drawbacks are that he’s a bit undersized, needs to add a little strength to stop bullrushes, and has shorter arms.

He gets to join Jones in Cleveland to learn behind Ethan Pocic. As is the case for Jones, if any offensive line coach is going to get the most out of Wypler, it’ll be Cleveland’s.

Full NFL Draft scouting profile


Tanner McCallister (Browns)
Ronnie Hickman (Browns)
Cam Brown (Los Angeles Chargers)
Jerron Cage (New Orleans Saints)
Taron Vincent (Buffalo Bills; minicamp offer)


Ohio State NFL Draft

Photo courtesy: Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK