The Ohio State Buckeyes furthered their reputation as one of the top programs in college football at developing professional talent when they had six players selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. That margin is good enough to tie them in fourth place out of all teams in college ball: their three first-round picks are tied with Alabama and Georgia for best in the NCAA.
The Houston Texans and the Seattle Seahawks were among the teams that selected players from the Buckeyes, based on Ohio sports betting insights from BetMGM Ohio. Here’s a look at the six Buckeyes drafted this year and what kind of role we can expect them to have on their new teams.
No. 2: Quarterback C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
While there was a late buzz on draft day that another quarterback like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis could leapfrog Stroud on the big board, the top of the first round ended up playing out exactly as expected, with Alabama’s Bryce Young going first overall, and Stroud slotting in the right, behind him. At 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, he’s around average for a pocket passer when it comes to size. His vision, anticipation, and touch all make him an elite quarterback prospect, and he’s got excellent speed, with reports from his pro day saying he clocked in around 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Stroud prefers not to use his legs, though, manipulating the pocket so he can deliver strikes downfield instead of picking up modest gains on the ground.
The Texans are a mess, and he’ll need a good supporting cast around him to pull them out of the gutter… but he certainly has the raw talent to do so.
No. 6: OT Paris Johnson Jr., Arizona Cardinals
Next off the board for the Buckeyes was offensive tackle Paris Johnson, who Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray is a big fan of. The Cardinals committed $160 million guaranteed to Murray last offseason, and while he’s shown flashes of greatness at times, he has yet to put it all together. Part of that is a durability concern, as Murray missed games due to injury in each of the past two seasons. Johnson will go a long way to keeping Murray off the ground. A 6-foot-6, 313-pound behemoth, he’s a physical specimen (but needs some work on his technique).
No. 20: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks’ passing offense did much better than expected in 2022 (although that isn’t saying much, as they were expected to tank without Russell Wilson in the fold). Picking Smith-Njigba is an excellent move to ensure that they continue to exceed expectations through the air. He has excellent hands as a slot receiver who excels at making catches over the middle, but he needs to work on his routes to continue to create separation in the NFL.
No. 75: DE Zach Harrison, Atlanta Falcons
He’s a bit smaller and slower than the prototypical defensive end, but his arm length and technique give him the ability to stay in plays. In that respect, he’s the polar opposite of Johnson and Smith-Njigba: his body needs to catch up to his form, not the other way around.
No. 111 and No. 190: OT Dawand Jones and C Luke Wypler, Cleveland Browns
The Browns doubled down on offensive linemen from Ohio State later in the draft, selecting Jones and Wypler on Day 3. Jones is a pylon at 6-foot-8 and 374 pounds with 36 and ⅜ inch arms. With his size, he’s never going to be quick, but his length makes it possible to stymie edge rushers.
Wypler has the opposite strengths and weaknesses. He’s undersized but a phenomenal athlete, capable of bursting downfield in the run game but also getting overmatched and pushed back into the quarterback on passing downs.
Both players have the ability to develop into consistent starters, but they might need a year or two of work first. On the bright side, they can come into their own in a comfortable environment, playing on the same line once again.