On a night that, for much of the past two decades, has been looked upon as a Super Bowl of sorts for Cleveland Browns fans, they watched as many of their counterparts waited with bated breath to see which collegiate star would be added to bolster their roster for the coming season and beyond. The Browns are in the middle of a stretch of 3 years with no first-rounder after they packaged the picks (and a few more) to acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson a year ago. The Browns Twitter account didn't let an opportunity pass to remind everyone why the team spectated the first night of the draft, posting a video of Watson donning the Draft Night Cap with the caption "got our guy".
The Browns, as of this posting, will also be spectators for the first half of Friday evening when Rounds 2 and 3 take place, after trading their second-round selection to the New York Jets for WR Elijah Moore. The Browns opted for a young receiver who was on the outs with his prior squad compared to sitting and hoping a WR would fall to them that fit what they felt they needed for the WR group. In that trade, the Jets sent back their 3rd round (74) selection, which will be the Browns first crack at the 2023 draft class.
While the Browns weren't busy on Thursday evening, the Buckeyes were, as they saw 3 of their offensive stars selected in the first 20 picks of the draft. First off the board was quarterback CJ Stroud, selected 2nd overall to Watsons' former team, the Houston Texans. The pick makes Stroud the highest-drafted Buckeye since DE Chase Young was selected 2nd overall by the Washington Redskins, as they were known at the time, in 2020 (They would become "The Football Team" later that summer). Stroud is the highest-drafted Buckeye QB since Art Schlichter was selected with the 4th pick by the Colts in the 1982 Draft. Stroud will look to break a curse of sorts that has bemoaned Buckeye quarterbacks at the next level.
The Texans shocked the draft soon after Stroud was announced, by using some of the draft capital they received from the Browns to move up to pick #3 and select Alabama DE/OLB Willie Anderson Jr. The pick gives the Texans hope that they have a blue-chip defender and their QB of the future in a matter of 15 minutes.
The next Buckeye to have his name announced by Commissioner Roger Goddell was Offensive Tackle Paris Johnson Jr. Johnson was the first Offensive Lineman selected in the draft and will be tasked with protecting Cardinals franchise QB Kyler Murray's blindside. Johnson being the 6th pick makes him the highest-drafted Buckeye offensive lineman since future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace went 1st overall to the (at the time) St. Louis Rams in 1997.
The final first-rounder from THE Ohio State University was WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba. JSN was selected with the 20th pick of the opening round, heading to the Pacific Northwest to join the Seattle Seahawks. Despite being drafted outside of the teens, Smith-Njigba was the first wideout selected on the night. Some pundits have said that he is more skilled than his predecessors Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who went picks 10 and 11 respectively a year ago. If that prognostication rings true, the Seahawks very well may have got the steal of night 1. Smith-Njigba will be paired with Pro Bowl WR DK Metcalf and give newly re-signed QB Geno Smith another aerial weapon come this fall.
As the Browns prepare for their first selection this evening, come chat about the draft thus far and who may have Andrew Berry's eye this evening with our Browns podcast crew Clarence Wilson & Dean Samples, as they go live at the start of the 3rd round from their show's Facebook page!