Browns $100 Million Star Issues Strong Endorsement of Top Pick

Prior to the draft, Denzel Ward pleaded with the Cleveland Browns to bring in more Buckeyes. He got his wish on Friday during the NFL Draft.

Denzel Ward back to face Bears after missing three games - BrownsZone with Scott Petrak

The Browns selected Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. with their first pick — No. 54 overall in the second round. Hall joins Ward, Dawand Jones, Luke Wypler and Ronnie Hickman as former Buckeyes on the Browns roster.

Ward — who signed a $100 million extension with Cleveland in 2022 — said ahead of the draft that he had petitioned the front office to take a close look at some Ohio State prospects.

“I have put a little word in about some Buckeyes. I told [GM Andrew Berry] we need to get more Buckeyes in here, so I think we might see some,” Ward said on April 16. “But yeah, you can’t go wrong with any Buckeyes on the team.”

Ward gave a shoutout to Hall — and the front office — after the pick was announced.

“Great addition in Mike Hall for the Browns!” Ward said. “You can’t go wrong with Buckeyes!”

Hall is excited to start his pro career in the same state where he played both his high school and college football.

“I love it,” Hall said. “I’m not one of those guys who’s going to run away from the pressure. I run to it, head on.

“It’s going to be a lot of pressure on me playing in my hometown. A lot of people are going to have a lot of expectations, but at the end of the day, as a player, I still have demands that I have to meet expectations. I’m going to hold myself very high on that and hold myself accountable.”

Browns Get Versatile Weapon in Michael Hall

Browns select Ohio State DT Michael Hall Jr., a Cleveland Heights native,  at No. 54 in NFL Draft 2024 -

Hall fills a need for the Browns at defensive tackle. He may not be an instant impact player, but he gives Cleveland a versatile weapon and additional depth.

“He’s a really talented young man,” Browns assistant general manager Glenn Cook said said. “The way I would describe him is he’s a shapeshifter, the way he can move his body, the way he can attack the quarterback. I think probably next to Andrew, the happiest person was Jim Schwartz. Just with our attacking style. He really fits our model and our style.”

During his three seasons at Ohio State, Hall accumulated 45 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and six sacks. During the 2023 season he tallied 24 total tackles. At the combine, Hall separated himself with an impressive athleticism score of 86 — third among defensive tackles.

The Browns earned a B-minus grade from The Athletic for the selection of Hall.

The fastest defensive tackle in the class, Hall ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash at 290 pounds during Ohio State’s pro day and has one of the best first-step bursts in the class. As an interior pass rusher, Hall has major upside,” Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic wrote. “As a run defender, he has a long way to go, and he needs to be more consistent and gap-sound if he’s going to be more than a flash player in the NFL. Solid value, as Hall is good enough to contribute, but Cleveland doesn’t have many picks and could’ve used more OL help.”

Browns Also Add Michigan Guard Zak Zinter

Zak Zinter declares for NFL Draft

The Browns selected Michigan guard Zak Zinter with their next pick in the draft, adding to the offensive line.

Zinter has been recovering from a broken leg. It happened when Hall was shoved into him during their matchup on November 25.

“It’s kind of a full circle moment for that to happen,” Zinter said on Friday after being selected at No. 85 overall. “And now we’re going to be teammates.”

While there may be some playful jabs thrown over their college rivalry, Zinter clarified he has no beef with Hall.

“I’ve talked to him once on a visit together, but he’s a great dude,” Zinter said. “It’s football stuff happens when we’re playing in the trenches, but I’m fired up and I think everything happens for a reason. I’m fired up to get there and get to work with him at practice for sure.”

Cleveland has four picks remaining heading into the final day of the draft.

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