On the final pick of the second day of the 2021 NFL draft, Baron Browning's call finally came.
The Denver Broncos selected Browning with the No. 105 overall pick, the last pick of Friday's third round of the 2021 NFL draft.
Browning is the sixth Buckeye selected in this year's draft, joining first-round pick Justin Fields, second-round picks Pete Werner and Josh Myers and third-round picks Wyatt Davis and Trey Sermon.
He joins Dre'Mont Jones on the Broncos' roster.
The No. 1 outside linebacker in the recruiting class of 2017, Browning recorded 110 career tackles with 18 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles in his Ohio State career. He earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in 2020, his only season as a full-time starter.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Browning's best football is still in front of him, though, as he has elite physical traits at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds and posted eye-popping numbers at Ohio State's pro day. His combination of size and athleticism gives him the potential versatility to play as both a traditional linebacker, where he played primarily as a Buckeye, and as an edge rusher – especially now that he's going to an NFL team in Denver that runs a 3-4 defense.
Denver Broncos general manager George Paton and head coach Vic Fangio believe Browning has the versatility to play both inside and outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. Fangio said Browning will likely start out as an inside linebacker – and that he wants Browning to have a set position in their base defense – but that he could also play outside, even if only in sub-packages as a pass-rusher.
“Sometimes, his versatility has kind of hurt him a little bit in his development,” Fangio said. “I think we'll probably try him at inside first, but not for sure, and if it's not working out, we'll put him outside. And maybe even cross-train him. But I'd like to get him one spot when he first gets here, in the base package, and work around the sub-package when we get a better feel for him.”
Browning said after he was drafted that he would like to play outside linebacker but that he's willing to play wherever the Broncos want to line him up.
Baron Browning said he feels more comfortable playing outside but will play inside if the coaches want.— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) May 1, 2021
"It doesn't matter. I'll play kicker."
He said the Broncos have not yet said where they want him to play.
Browning is the eighth Ohio State linebacker to be selected in the first four rounds of the draft since 2014, joining Ryan Shazier (No. 15 overall pick in 2014), Darron Lee (No. 20 overall pick in 2016), Joshua Perry (fourth-round pick in 2016), Raekwon McMillan (second-round pick in 2017), Jerome Baker (third-round pick in 2018) and Malik Harrison (third-round pick in 2020) and Werner.