The Browns have firmly cemented their place as one of the top contenders in the AFC heading into 2021. On both sides of the ball, they have built a deep and talented roster and are in position to patch whatever holes they may have in the draft.
The big splash this offseason was the signing of Jadeveon Clowney to play opposite of start Myles Garrett. Although it was a free agent signing, they effectively had to give up a player in return to make the deal fit within their cap space, and the contract sacrificed was that of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Although the addition of Clowney brought along a lot of media attention and once again many analysts and pundits drooling over the talent that are now the bookends of Cleveland’s defensive line, the question is was this actually a smart move given this year’s draft class?
Baramore is the replacement for Richardson. The draft class for defensive tackles is extremely thin, unlike edge rusher. This analysis forms the basis of the question, did it actually make sense to sign Clowney? Each year, the media and several teams get caught up in the daydream over Clowney’s talent, despite the glaring warning signs in the form of his previous year’s production, or lack thereof. Every year, some team buys into the talent and vastly overpays based upon the production. Somehow, this has happened again even though it’s on the back of a ZERO sack year in Tennessee.Embed from Getty Images
Cleveland took a chance on the talent once again, but the cost to do so was a talented and productive interior defensive lineman. I would argue that they would have been better off keeping Richardson, who is at a position with a thin draft class, and drafting an edge rusher. In our Browns mock draft 3.0, talent like Jaelan Phillips and Azeez Ojulari are still available. They would be paying $10M for production from the inside of their line and paying less money for talent and speculative production on the edge. Instead they paid a premium ($10M) for talent and speculative production on the edge AND are paying a rookie on the interior with talent but unknown production. Talent doesn’t win football games, you must execute and produce, yet it seems like some front offices are more focused on winning the offseason than winning the real season.
In our Browns mock draft 3.0, we project them to land linebacker Pete Werner.
This pick would be one of my favorite selections to end up being a huge steal when looking back on this draft in a couple of years. Cleveland has a talented front four and a great secondary, but they need help in the second level. They brought in Anthony Walker Jr., but he’s a role piece, not a true solution to their need. He’s a solid all-around player and a fantastic tackler. He’s exactly the type of player you want behind a stellar front line to help clean up anyone that slips through.
In just two picks in our Browns mock draft 3.0, Cleveland patches up the two real holes they have on their team. They manage to get the best interior defensive lineman prospect in the draft and a very underrated interior linebacker.