If the Ravens are in a precarious one and the Steelers are in a s*** one, then Cleveland is in an advantageous one. Which is so weird to say because, one, it’s Cleveland and, two, it’s the Cleveland Browns. But, they’ve built an all-around solid roster, well, besides the interior defensive line, that’s a mess. They brought in Jadeveon Clowney with the hopes that he can finally live up to the billing he had coming out in 2014. Cleveland added John Johnson III and get Grant Delpit back to fix a safety position that was a liability for them in 2020. All signs point to OBJ having a bounce back year after reports have been released that he is and looks 100% after missing last year with a torn up knee.
Offensively, this team is set. Their identity is simple, strong offensive line to block for two of the best rushers in the game, and let Mayfield work off that with play-action. This recipe got them to the postseason, won them a game, and damn near helped them knock off Chiefs. There’s not much going into the draft that they needed to address, outside of some depth at receiver and offensive line.
Defensively, they have Myles Garrett, who, from watching him deliver Cleveland’s picks at the draft, almost earned this team an A+ purely based on how impressive he is as an athlete. He’s literally 275 pounds of pure muscle, I’m banking on him breaking the league sack record this year. Anyways, outside of him, Denzel Ward, John Johnson III, and Troy Hill should hold down the back-end.
So, there was a couple of spots that I thought could be weak-spots for this team, linebacker and interior defensive line. Yes, they added Anthony Walker and Malik Jackson, but both players are better suited to be Robins than Batmans. Sitting at 26 and 52, they were sitting in perfect position to be able to address both spots. Did they? No, well at least at 26, but I’m good with what they came away with. Let’s dive into our Browns draft grade analysis.
Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II (Round 1, Pick 26)Embed from Getty Images
We thought this was a great spot for IDL Christian Barmore because of the departure of both Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson in the off-season. From Twitter battles with many Cleveland fans, I know they have some blind faith in both Andrew Billings (who I am convinced people like because of Madden) and Malik Jackson (who has a career run defense PFF score of 66). The fact of the matter is that this defense needed serious help in the middle, however, they have cap room to add a couple of bodies once teams need to get down to 53.
With that said, I still love this pick. The Browns find themselves in a division where each team feature multiple threats at receiver. The Steelers have JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool. The Ravens can feature Watkins, Brown, and Andrews. Cincinnati, who might have the best of the bunch, will feature Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins. Basically, the Browns needed to ensure that they had enough quality pieces in the secondary to be able to account for each receiver.
They invested heavily in both Garrett and Clowney, the hope is that those two can be so disruptive from the edges that all they need is for their defensive lineman to just not give any ground. Whereas, in the past, they looked for those guys to one-gap penetrate and cause havoc.
There are concerns regarding Newsome though. The first being that he only has one career interception playing against weaker competition in the Big-Ten. The second being, well, he didn’t exactly have to go up against the J’Marr Chases and Jaylen Waddles of the world. However, given the spot they were in, it was the best selection available. Some might look towards Eric Stokes, but he’s not really zone corner, he’s the type that likes to get his hands on a receiver and mirror him down the field. Newsome is a great addition and a big positive for our Browns draft grade.
Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Round 2, Pick 52)Embed from Getty Images
This is where the Browns potentially struck gold. As I outlined in the introduction paragraphs, linebacker has been a real concern for the Browns the last couple years. More specifically, ever since Joe Schobert took his talents to Jacksonville. Cleveland added Anthony Walker to the middle of the defense in the offseason, but if you take a look at his numbers, he’s not really very good. His career PFF score is sub-60 and I get that he notched 100+ tackles 3 consecutive seasons, but that’s like measuring a pitcher solely on how many wins they had. Those figures don’t always correlate to a great linebacker, it just means that he is always around the football. Which is better than not being around the football, but that also doesn’t make him Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher. Sidenote: it’s sad to now consider that both of those guys have been out of the game for nearly a decade, starts to date you.
Anyways, this was a 1st round talent, easy. Outside of Micah Parsons, he was the top linebacker coming out in the draft. Is he a bit light to play inside the box? Sure, I’m not always a fan of a linebacker at 6’1, 220 being overly effective in the run game. However, with offenses now starting to value speed, defenses are countering back having these “tweener” safety/linebacker hybrids up close to the line of scrimmage.
In all fairness, it’s not like it affected his on-field production either, he was a dynamic playmaker for the Fighting Irish. In his only two seasons playing collegiately, he wracked up 142 tackles, 24.5 for a loss, 7 sacks, a pick, 7 deflected passes, and 5 forced fumbles. I know that I just knocked Greg Newsome a bit for being at a smaller school and not facing the nation’s top talent, but that was basically because he wasn’t dominate either. You didn’t walk away from a Northwestern game going, wow, Greg Newsome just made some big-a** plays to help win the game. Owusu-Koramoah, on the other hand, well, it’s hard to argue with his stat line.
This was a home-run pick for the Browns, I can see him being an explosive playmaker on the weakside and exploiting the holes created by the attention given to both Garrett and Clowney. Definitely a plus in terms of our Browns draft grade.
Auburn WR Anthony Schwartz (Round 3, Pick 91)
I wasn’t as in love with this selection at the bottom of the 3rd round. Schwartz is more of a “jack of all trades, master at non”-type of guy. He can catch a bit, run a bit, return kicks a bit, and line up wherever you want on the field. Which is valuable, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see the fit in this offense. Nick Chubb fantasy owners nearly simultaneously combusted after watching him charge down the field single handily, only to watch the Browns flip him with Hunt in the red-zone. Now, you’re telling me that they might steal more carries away from their two-headed monster just to hand it to some guy that some jack-a** is going to coin “May the Schwartz be with you” if he scores a couple of TDs? Nope, no way, not a long-term plan for success.
So, what’s the other option? That he takes away targets from highly-paid vets Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham? Nope, no way, not going to happen. What was the purpose of this selection then? Just to sell a couple of t-shirts in the event that he does make a couple of big plays?
I thought this would have been the right spot to target one of the interior defensive lineman left in the draft. Jay Tufele from USC would have been a better selection, he sat out 2020 due to COVID which hurt his draft-stock. However, prior to that, he could have been a mid to late second round pick. He was productive for the Trojans in his last sophomore season, making 40+ tackles, 6 behind the line, and adding on 3.5 sacks. That is the type of production the Browns need in the center of their defense, plus he has some size to him (6’3, 310). If you get him into a program where he can put on another 10-15 pounds, that’s a pretty solid dude sitting there in the middle. Plus, you need all the depth you can get at the position, Cleveland needs to throw as much competition into the pot as possible in order to get the best product out on the field.
Overall, Cleveland hit a home-run with their first two picks by addressing concerns on the outside and in the middle of the defense. They snagged two 1st round talents which is great considering that they didn’t move up to grab either and they were picking at the end of each round. Improved linebacker play will help clean-up any messes left by the front four of the Browns. Having more depth at corner should help cover the guys in the North as well as provide Garrett and Clowney more time to hit home. This would have been a higher Browns draft grade if they targeted defensive tackle, but hey, to each their own, right?