Zach Harrison Selected by Atlanta Falcons with No. 75 Overall Pick in 2023 NFL Draft

By Chase Brown on April 28, 2023 at 9:54 pm
Zach Harrison

After four years with the Buckeyes, Zach Harrison will continue his football career with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Ohio State defensive end was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 75 overall pick in the third round of the 2023 NFL draft on Friday.

Harrison is the fourth Buckeye selected in the 2023 draft, following top-20 picks C.J. Stroud (No. 2 overall to the Houston Texans), Paris Johnson Jr. (No. 6 overall to the Arizona Cardinals) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (No. 20 overall to the Seattle Seahawks). Harrison was the only Buckeye selected on Day 2 of the draft, as Ohio State offensive linemen Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler both fell into Day 3 unexpectedly.

It’s the sixth straight year the Buckeyes have had at least one defensive end drafted. He is the earliest Ohio State edge rusher to come off the board since the Washington Commanders selected Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick in 2020.

“I couldn’t be more excited to go play for a great organization,” Harrison said in an interview with the Falcons after being drafted. “It still kind of feels surreal that I’m about to go live my dream.”

Harrison is the 12th Buckeye ever to be drafted by the Falcons and the first since Kendall Sheffield in 2019. He joins two other former Ohio State football players, Liam McCullough and Jeff Okudah, on the Falcons’ current roster.

A five-star recruit in the class of 2019, Harrison came to Ohio State after a dominant four years at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio – a suburb located 25 minutes north of campus and downtown Columbus. He never quite met the lofty expectations of becoming the next iteration of Young, Nick Bosa or Joey Bosa in Columbus, but had his best season as a Buckeye in 2022, collecting career-highs in tackles (34), tackles for loss (eight), sacks (3.5, tied with 2019), pass deflections (four) and forced fumbles (three).

At 6-foot-5 and 274 pounds, Harrison had the second-longest arms of all NFL Combine participants (36 1/4”) this year behind former Ohio State teammate Dawand Jones. Harrison also put up 25 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press. A few weeks later, at pro day, Harrison recorded a 7.33-second three-cone, a 4.66-second shuttle, a 34.5-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-3 broad jump.

“I feel like I did good. I feel like I was really able to show off my explosiveness, my ability to be on the edge and things like that,” Harrison said after Ohio State's pro day. “Getting out here, confirming that, athletically, I’m not normal. Confirming that on the field, getting guys to see that first person – that this dude really is that explosive, that fast, that twitchy, that long, that strong, things like that.”

Harrison's late-blooming on-field development, combined with his athleticism, made the Falcons take a chance on him on Day 2 of the draft, and he’ll now look to prove his best football is still in front of him at the next level.

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