CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns did not qualify for the 2018 postseason, but several players with ties to the organization and others with Ohio roots will be representing the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia tonight.
Here is a look at the former Browns, Ohio State Buckeyes and Ohio products who will be on the field for the NFL’s biggest game of the year.
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman
Before Edelman was catching passes from future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, he was throwing them for the Kent State Golden Flashes, where in just two years, he threw for 4,997 yards and rushed for another 2,664.
During his senior season, Edelman completed 153 of his 275 attempts for 1,820 yards and 13 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Combined between the passing yards and his 1,551 yards rushing, Edelman broke the Kent State single-season record for total offense, which was previously held by former Browns player/coach Joshua Cribbs.
New England quarterback Brian Hoyer
A graduate of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School, Hoyer spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with his hometown team.
In 16 starts over his two years with the Browns, Hoyer posted a 10-6 record and was open to a return to the organization in 2015, but was not in the long-term plans of then-general manager Ray Farmer and the front office, who committed a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to Johnny Manziel and signed a veteran in Josh McCown earlier that offseason.
In his two years with the Browns, Hoyer completed 299 of his 534 attempts (56.0 percent) for 3,941 yards and 17 touchdowns against 16 interceptions.
Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty
McCourty joined his twin brother, Devon, with the Patriots this year after being released by the Browns following the 2017 season.
In 14 games with the Browns, McCourty totaled 65 tackles, including 54 solo stops and 11 assists, to go along with 14 passes defended and three interceptions, one of which he returned 56 yards for a touchdown in a 33-17 loss at the Houston Texans.
New England defensive lineman Danny Shelton
A first-round pick of the Browns in the 2015 NFL Draft out of the University of Washington, Shelton burst onto the scene after being introduced as the selection when he wrapped up NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a bear hug before posing for photos on the stage in Chicago.
In 46 career games with the Browns, Shelton registered 128 total tackles, including 71 solo stops and 57 assists with 1.5 sacks and one pass defended.
Shelton was traded to the Patriots during the 2018 offseason for a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Patriots pass rusher Derek Rivers
After a standout senior season for the Youngstown State Penguins, one that included a trip to the Football Championship Subdivision National Championship Game for the first time since 1999, as well as a solid showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Rivers was selected by the Patriots selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Over 49 career games with the Penguins, Rivers registered 120 solo tackles, had 53 assists and collected 173 total stops. He finished his career with 37.5 sacks for 229 lost yards, as well as 56.5 total tackles for 281 lost yards.
Additionally, Rivers forced three fumbles and recovered four in his collegiate career.
New England linebacker John Simon
After starting his career with the Baltimore Ravens (2013) and playing for three seasons with the Houston Texans (2014-2016), as well as one with the Indianapolis Colts (2017), Simon signed a one-year deal with the Patriots early in the 2018 season.
In 11 games for the Patriots, Simon has registered 17 total tackles and two sacks.
Simon played in 50 games with 37 starts during his career at The Ohio State University, where he totaled 154 tackles, 20.5 sacks and 10 passes defended. Simon was the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and was only the eighth player in school history to be a two-time captain.
Simon is a native of Youngstown and was a two-time All-Ohio honoree at Cardinal Mooney High School.
Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner
Long before he was a special-teams standout in New England, Ebner was a world-class rugby player who joined the Ohio State football team as a walk-on ahead of the 2009 season. Ebner went on to earn a football scholarship and was voted the team’s most inspirational player following the 2011 season.
Ebner was selected to the 2016 U.S. Olympic rugby team and represented his country in Rio.
Rams long snapper Jake McQuaide
Before joining the Rams for the 2011 season, McQuaide started his collegiate career as a walk-on at Ohio State. McQuaide was the Buckeyes’ long snapper for three years.
Los Angeles wide receiver/returner JoJo Natson
Natson was a captain and standout performer for The University of Akron in 2016 after transferring from Utah State. Natson was Akron’s offensive Most Valuable Player and Special Teams Player of the Year and was second in the nation with two punt-return touchdowns, as well as a 16.3 yards-per-return average.
Natson led the Zips in scoring with 72 points on 12 touchdowns.
In 13 regular-season games for the Rams this season, Natson averaged 18.0 yards per kickoff return and 10.8 yards per punt runback.