Ohio State’s recent defensive back draftapalooza continued Thursday night when Denzel Ward was selected No. 4 overall by the Cleveland Browns.
The pick made Ohio State the first school in the common era (since 1967) to have five defensive backs taken in the first round in three years. That run started with Eli Apple in 2016 and continued with Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley last year.
Ward was a consensus All-American last season as a junior, the only season he was a starter.
He broke up 15 passes, had two interceptions, blocked a punt and an extra-point kick.
A four-star prospect from Nordonia High School in northeast Ohio, he is the 20th Ohio State cornerback drafted in the past 25 years.
Only five of Ohio State’s regular starting corners in that time have not been drafted, an 80-percent hit rate.
The Browns last picked a player from Ohio State in 2009 when they took receiver Brian Robiskie, who was also a northeast Ohio native (Chagrin Falls).
Ward is the 33rd Buckeye to be drafted by the Browns, whose first coach was former Ohio State coach Paul Brown.
The last Ohio State defensive back drafted by the Browns was Dick LeBeau in 1959.
He didn’t make the team but went on to have a Hall of Fame career playing for the Lions before becoming a successful coach in the league.