After going silent in the Free Agent market the first week, the Browns went all in on their Quarterback and got him in Deshaun Watson. Regardless of what you think of the person, this is the guy the Browns have decided to tab as their guy going forward.
I want to put a disclaimer on this: If you choose to not root for the Browns, I do not blame you. But this isn’t an opinion piece as the Deshaun Watson trade because what’s done is done and there’s nothing we can do to control what the Browns do.
What we have left now is figuring out how the Browns fill in the rest of the pieces on this team in the Draft. In trading three first round picks, two fourth round picks (2022 #107 overall and 2024), and a 2023 third round pick, the Browns opened the door for them to continue to improve in the draft by keeping a good number of picks.
The question now becomes what will the Browns do with those picks? Well thanks to the magic of Pro Football Focus Mock Draft Simulator, I’ve figured out what the Draft for the Browns might look like as I make myself Andrew Berry trying to build these Browns into a Super Bowl contender.
2nd Round (#44 Overall)- DT Travis Jones UCONN
The Browns regardless of Free Agency need to draft an interior lineman for the Defensive front. At this point, PFF had Perrion Winfrey and Travis Jones, both of whom I’m a huge fan of. The determining factor for me is who is the guy that will help improve the run game the most? That’s Travis Jones whose massive size at 6’4’’ 325lbs will eat up space in the interior and even at his size moves extremely well, as shown at the combine. His RAS score is elite which will appeal to the Browns front office, but his tape shows a potential great run stopper with the ability to create pressure on the QB for himself. He showed that as well at the Senior Bowl and for the Browns, the interior line remains the biggest problem. Jones can immediately fill in and make a major impact for the Browns going forward.
3rd Round (#78 Overall)- S Nick Cross Maryland
With the Browns losing Ronnie Harrison and MJ Stewart, the Browns are going to have to address the Safety position early. What would make any selection better for the position is a player who can be versatile. The dreams is a Daxton Hill in the 2nd Round, but Nick Cross is a very strong consolation prize. Cross has had an extremely strong draft process scoring extremely well in the drills from the combine, including a 4.34 40. His RAS score ranks near the top and fits the age guardrails the Browns look for. He doesn’t have a ton of coverage experience and would be better served as someone playing downhill, but the athleticism shows he can be a versatile player if coached up. He’s a willing tackler even though he’s undersized and for the Browns would just add more athleticism and a huge upside prospect in their secondary.
3rd Round (#98 Overall)- EDGE Sam Williams Ole Miss
As much as I want to go WR, by this point, most of the WRs will be gone and I’d rather sign or trade for underutilized/cast-offs like a Laveska Shenault than draft one. Sam Williams is one of the those productive prospects that really doesn’t get a lot of love. While slightly undersized for the EDGE position at 6’3’’ 260, Williams makes up for it with elite athleticism and explosiveness. What makes this pick more interesting is the Browns actually have a connection to Ole Miss as D-Line Coach Chris Kiffin was named Co-Defensive Coordinator of the Rebels in January only to go back to the Browns in February. It’s fair to speculate that Kiffin may have had some time getting to know Williams before he left to prepare for the draft. Williams amassed 22.5 sacks during his 3 years as a starter, breaking out last season with 12.5 sacks and 4 FFs. He’s worth taking the flyer on here and adding him as depth as a potential 3rd Down rusher.
4th Round (#118 Overall)- RB Rachaad White Arizona State
Rachaad White may have only started as a RB at ASU for one year, but he made the most of every play, rushing for over 1000 yards on only 182 carries and had 456 yards receiving on 43 catches to go with 16 total TDs. Standing in at 6’0’’ 214lbs he has the build you want for the position and at the combine absolutely dominated the athletic drills getting an elite RAS score. White has elite explosiveness and the ability to contribute in the receiving game with little mileage coming out of college. With the Browns most likely moving on from Kareem Hunt and D’Earnest Johnson in time, White fills the void perfectly for what the Browns need to compliment Nick Chubb and potentially have White in time replace Nick Chubb.
6th Round (#202 Overall)- TE Daniel Bellinger San Diego State
While personally I prefer Jelani Woods from Virginia Tech here, he’s gone and I’ll happily take Bellinger here. First off he fits all the Browns guardrails and second off he performed well at the Combine, especially passing the Gauntlet drill. At around 6’4’’ 250lbs, Bellinger is a raw talent that has elite athleticism as showcased at the Combine. Running a 4.63 40 followed up with an elite broad jump and a strong 3 cone drill giving him a strong RAS score. Bellinger was sparingly used at San Diego State with his best year being last season with 31 catches for 357 yards and 2 TDs. At this point, the Browns can run it with David Njoku and Harrison Bryant while developing Bellinger at the meantime. He fits the age guardrails as well and if developed properly can be a potential mismatch the Browns can utilize in time.
7th Round (#223 Overall)- P Matt Ariaza San Diego State
At this point, we’re filling in the rest of the gaps on the team. While I was fully prepared for Ariaza to be gone and to take Penn State’s Jordan Strout, somehow Ariaza is on the board and I wouldn’t hesitate to take him. Ariaza had a reputation for his booming punts and the ability to flip the field with his punts. The Browns have lacked a Punter who could do this since maybe Dave Zastudil. The question would be how will he deal with the weather conditions since he was playing for San Diego State? I believe with his leg he’ll transition fine and be the guy the Browns have been looking for to be a game changer on special teams.
7th Round (#246 Overall)- K Cameron Dicker Texas
With this freebie pick from Buffalo for QB Case Keenum, the Browns can do honestly whatever they want with this pick, so why not swing on a kicker? Dicker has been a constant for the Longhorns making over 70% of his kicks all 4 years at Texas, with a long of 57 yards. He does struggle from longer distances making 18-28 (64%) from 40-49 yards and 4-8 (50%) from 50+ yards. He has to get more consistent from these ranges and in Cleveland will have to learn to adjust to the lake winds. The upside though is there if he can fine tune is abilities to be the next great Texas kicker the Browns have had like Phil Dawson and for Browns fans, that’s the hope to stop the revolving door at kicker. But the key here will be to be patient with him.
While it’s still early to fully predict what the Browns might do in the Draft with plenty of Free Agency signings left, this gives you an idea of what you might expect Andrew Berry and co. to be looking at in the Draft. With potential trades of Baker Mayfield and Kareem Hunt on the horizon, the Browns could still be adding multiple picks in either this year’s draft or in the future. There’s still a month to the Draft, but one thing is evident after the Watson trade, the Browns are in an outstanding position to continue improving this team and getting it back to the playoffs in 2022/2023.