Michael Jordan attended high school in Michigan, but he always considered himself an Ohioan at heart, Cincinnati specifically.

He was born in Fairfield and spent his youth in the area until his family moved north. Now the Ohio State offensive lineman is returning home.

The Cincinnati Bengals selected Jordan in the fourth round of the NFL draft with the 136th overall pick Saturday.

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“I’m really excited right now,” Jordan told Bengals media. “I can’t wait to get down to Cincinnati. It’s been a huge dream of mine to play for the Bengals since I was a kid.”

Jordan will be reunited with Buckeyes teammate Billy Price, the Bengals’ first-round pick last year. Jordan moved from left guard to center when Price graduated. Center is not Jordan’s natural position, but he accepted the switch to help the team. That willingness and versatility was attractive to the Bengals.

“He can play all of the interior spots,” Cincinnati offensive line coach Jim Turner said. “He’s big and has size and athleticism. He checks all of the boxes for us. It’s fun to get another local kid in here as well. He’s a really good player and has everything we’re looking for on the interior of the offensive line. I’m in love with this pick. Character-wise, he’s A-plus.” 

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Not surprisingly, Price gave his endorsement as well.

“Love having Mike down in Cincy with us,” he texted The Dispatch. “Going to be a good player and a good pro.”

Jordan was the first true freshman to start on Ohio State’s offensive line since Orlando Pace in 1994. Jordan started all 41 games in his Buckeyes career and earned a second-team all-Big Ten honor last season.

Although Ohio State coaches had assured him he would switch back to guard if he returned for his senior season, Jordan decided to enter the draft. Jordan believes his experience at center will pay off in the NFL.

“I think it helps me with the mental aspect of the game,” he said. “It helped me get a lot smarter and understand football more. Now I don’t have to think as much, and I can just react.”

Twenty-five picks before Jordan was taken, the Atlanta Falcons selected Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield with the 111th pick.

Sheffield was a bit of an enigma in his two seasons as a Buckeye after transferring from junior college. He has world-class speed and plenty of ability, but it didn’t always translate to production on the field.

His best game as a Buckeye might have been his final one: Sheffield played superbly in the Rose Bowl victory over Washington.

Sheffield should get a chance to play early for the Falcons, who lost three cornerbacks in free agency.

Sheffield is the seventh Buckeyes cornerback taken in the draft in the past six years, all in the fourth round or earlier. Bradley Roby (2014), Eli Apple (2016), Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley (both 2017) and Denzel Ward (2018) were first-rounders. Doran Grant was a fourth-rounder in 2015.

Saturday also saw offensive tackle Isaiah Prince drafted in the sixth round (202nd overall) by Miami. Prince was a three-year starter for Ohio State at right tackle and was a captain as a senior.

He was a first-team all-Big Ten pick by league coaches in 2018. He is the 10th offensive lineman from Ohio State to be drafted in the past eight years.

In the seventh round, Mike Weber was selected by the Dallas Cowboys, reuniting him with Ezekiel Elliott. Weber redshirted as a freshman in 2015, which was Elliott’s final year as a Buckeye.

Weber took over as Ohio State’s starter and ran for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016. He shared the backfield with J.K. Dobbins the past two years, although a hamstring injury limited him in 2017.

Weber gained 954 yards (5.5 per carry) with five touchdown runs in his final season as a Buckeye. He, like Jordan and Sheffield, decided to enter the NFL draft with a year of eligibility remaining.

Nine Ohio State players were taken overall, the second-most since nine were taken in 2006. Twelve were taken in 2016, all in the first four rounds.

Westerville native Benny Snell Jr., a running back from Kentucky, was a fourth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After going undrafted, offensive guard Demetrius Knox agreed to a free-agent contract with Seattle, and fellow guard Malcolm Pridgeon did the same with the Houston Texans. Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon signed with Houston, and linebacker Dante Booker signed with Arizona. Reynoldsburg native Ashton Dulin, a receiver who played for Malone, signed with Indianapolis.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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