CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Browns have been among the busiest teams in free agency, signing a slew of defensive players including safety John Johnson, defensive end Takk McKinley and cornerback Troy Hill.
They still have some defensive needs to fill as the focus shifts to the 2021 NFL Draft at the end of April. The Browns still need to find another top option at edge rusher opposite Myles Garrett along with a No. 2 corner to play with Denzel Ward.
The question is where they should go.
The good news is where they sit at No. 26, the odds are good that at least one quality corner or edge rusher will fall to them. In my latest mock draft, I have the Browns taking a player at one of those two key positions. Find out who in the post below.
This mock draft is the first one of this cycle to feature trades, and it’s also extending to the Browns’ second pick at No. 59.
Also, let us know your thought on what the Browns’ biggest need is in the poll below.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, quarterback, Clemson
Height, weight: 6-foot-6, 220 pounds.
2020 stats: 231-334 (69.2 percent), 3,153 yards, 24 TDs, 5 INTs.
There’s probably no trade package Jacksonville should even consider when it comes to this pick. That’s how special of a prospect Lawrence is. He will come into a good situation and should be able to hit the ground running.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, quarterback, BYU
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.
2020 stats: 247-334 (73.5 percent), 3,692 yards, 33 TDs, 3 INTs.
Justin Fields is probably more worthy of this pick in my mind. But the momentum has been in Wilson’s favor for the last few months and unless this is a massive smokescreen, the Jets might go for Wilson.
3. Carolina Panthers (projected trade with Miami via Houston): Justin Fields, quarterback, Ohio State
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 223 pounds.
2020 stats: 158-225 (70.2 percent), 2,100 yards, 22 TDs, 6 INTs.
Dolphins receive: No. 8 pick, No. 39 pick, 2022 second-round pick.
The Texans really should trade Deshaun Watson and start over. But in this mock, I have them keeping Watson and trying to persuade him to play. That means Carolina will need to move up to get a quarterback.
Miami doesn’t really need a receiver in the first round after signing Will Fuller, so the Dolphins get two extra second-round picks to slide five spots. The Panthers then get the top-flight quarterback they need in Fields, who came up just short of running the 40-yard dash in fewer than 4.4 seconds. He has great arm talent and should flourish under offensive coordinator Joe Brady.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, tight end, Florida
Height, weight: 6-foot-6, 239 pounds.
2020 stats: 43 receptions, 770 yards, 12 TDs.
I’ll admit that after listening to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network rave about Pitts, I am on the bandwagon. I thought that the Falcons might move on from Matt Ryan. But after restructuring his deal, I think he could be safe. So if they keep him, they need to get him another weapon. Pitts is a walking mismatch who should help take pressure off Julio Jones.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, offensive tackle, Oregon
Height, weight: 6-foot-5, 325 pounds.
The Bengals were surprisingly active in free agency again, adding to their offensive line by signing Riley Reiff to a one-year deal. But they still can’t pass on a player like Sewell, who has long-term building block written all over him. The better they can protect Joe Burrow, the sooner they will be able to challenge for the AFC North title.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: Ja’Marr Chase, wide receiver, LSU
Height, weight: 6-foot-1, 208 pounds
2020 stats: Opted out of season.
The Eagles can have their choice of receivers with a chance to atone for the JJ Arcega-Whiteside pick in 2019. It’s too early to judge Jalen Reagor in the first round last year, but the signs aren’t promising.
Chase didn’t play in 2020. But his 2019 tape is more than good enough to warrant this pick. Regardless of whether Jalen Hurts is the answer at quarterback, they need to get a quality receiver.
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle, wide receiver, Alabama
Height, weight: 5-foot-10, 182 pounds.
2020 stats: 28 receptions, 591 yards, 4 TDs.
The Lions can immediately find their No. 1 receiver after Kenny Golladay left for the Giants in free agency. Waddle is the most explosive receiver in this draft and a big-play threat any time. He could immediately be a top option for Jared Goff as he tries to revive his career.
8. Miami (projected trade with Carolina): Rashawn Slater, offensive tackle, Northwestern
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 315 pounds.
The addition of Will Fuller pushes receiver down the pecking order of draft needs. So here comes more help for the offensive line. The Dolphins attacked the offensive line early last year, taking Austin Jackson in the first round. Slater offers more depth and can even slide inside. It’s not a flashy pick, but a safe one. Which is not a bad thing.
9. Denver Broncos: Trey Lance, quarterback, North Dakota State
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 221 pounds.
2020 stats: 15-30, 149 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT.
Drew Lock looked less like the long-term solution at quarterback in Denver. With a new general manager in George Paton, I wonder if he’s willing to take a swing on the former Bison quarterback. Lance is raw and will need more time than the other three top quarterbacks. But if you give him that and good coaching, he has the athleticism and accuracy to succeed in the league.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, cornerback, Alabama
Height, weight: 6-foot-2, 203 pounds.
2020 stats: 22 solo tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 12 passes defensed, 1 INT.
Now that the Dak Prescott drama is finally over, it’s time to continue to remake the defense. Surtain and Caleb Farley seem like 1A and 1B at cornerback. But Surtain played this season and Farley has a history of injuries. So in this situation, the Cowboys go for the Alabama product.
11. Chicago Bears (projected trade with Giants): Mac Jones, quarterback, Alabama
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 214 pounds.
2020 stats: 311-402 (77.4 percent), 4,500 yards, 41 TDs, 4 INTs.
Giants receive: No. 20 pick, 2022 first-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick.
The Bears are in desperation mode and thus could be very inclined to give up as much as needed to get a potential answer at the position. Andy Dalton and Nick Foles can be stopgaps while you develop a young quarterback.
Jones has been a riser in the past few months, drawing raves from ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky about how he thinks the game. Jones may lack the mobility of the other QBs, but being able to read the game could help him potentially have a long career in some role.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Caleb Farley, cornerback, Virginia Tech
Height, weight: 6-foot-2, 207 pounds.
2020 stats: Opted out of season.
Here’s San Francisco’s heir apparent to Richard Sherman. Farley has a long frame just like Sherman. He opted out of the 2020 season and had a back problem in 2019. But when he’s played, he’s been sensational. They could easily go for another defensive lineman to bolster the front four. But going for a great corner like Farley is a smart move.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw, offensive tackle, Virginia Tech
Height, weight: 6-foot-5, 314 pounds.
The Chargers have tried to get some pieces on the offensive line to help protect Justin Herbert. Signing Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler are good starts. They should build on that by drafting a potential long-term left tackle in Darrisaw. He could stand to get stronger. But he can move very well, which is always good in a tackle.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, edge rusher, Michigan
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 280 pounds.
2020 stats: 16 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 TFLs.
Questions about Danielle Hunter’s future should help steer the Vikings towards bringing in another edge rusher. In our last mock draft, Ellis Williams had Minnesota taking Miami’s Jaelan Phillips. With Paye, who is an extremely athletic prospect, on the board here, he’s the pick.
15. New England Patriots: DeVonta Smith, wide receiver, Alabama
Height, weight: 6-foot-1, 175 pounds.
2020 stats: 117 receptions, 1,856 yards, 23 TDs.
The Patriots treated free agency like a spending spree, but still have more work to do to become a more functional offense. Smith falling this far to No. 15 seems unlikely. But he could be a very good match for New England, giving the Patriots a young, dynamic playmaker.
The Patriots already added Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in free agency. Getting Smith will make what is an intriguing offense even better.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Jaycee Horn, cornerback, South Carolina
Height, weight: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds.
2020 stats: 10 solo tackles, 1 TFL, 6 passes defensed, 2 INTs.
Patrick Peterson left in free agency, further expanding a secondary weakness. Horn could be a good replacement because of how physical he is. He has good height and length and his 23 pass breakups show he can play the ball pretty well.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Alijah Vera-Tucker, interior offensive lineman, USC
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 300 pounds.
The Raiders have had a confusing offseason, most notably trading away veteran center Rodney Hudson. They did sign Nick Martin to help at center. But they could use more help on the line. Vera-Tucker is a versatile lineman who can play either guard or tackle. He should be more than capable of being a starter in the league.
18. Miami: Gregory Rousseau, edge rusher, Miami
Height, weight: 6-foot-6, 260 pounds.
2020 stats: Opted out of season.
I have a hard time believing Rousseau would make it this far down the draft simply because of his 2019 season in which he had 15.5 sacks. But there’s the factor of not playing in 2020 that makes him a bit of a wild card.
Despite being one of the better sack totals last season, the Dolphins could use a dynamic rusher. They should know Rousseau as well as anyone, and he could make a very good defense even better.
19. Washington Football Team: Samuel Cosmi, offensive tackle, Texas
Height, weight: 6-foot-7, 300 pounds.
Cosmi was impressive in his pro day at Texas, running the 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds. He had been in the mix for the first round but could rise after impressive testing numbers. Cosmi will still need to add some weight. But in this spot, Washington gets its potential replacement for Trent Williams.
20. New York Giants (projected trade with Chicago): Micah Parsons, linebacker, Penn State
Height, weight: 6-foot-2, 245 pounds.
2020 stats: Opted out of season.
Based purely on talent, Parsons should go much higher. But there are some character issues that raise questions. All it takes is for one team to take a chance on him despite those issues. Here, the Giants get another piece to put into a defense that was much improved last season.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Rashod Bateman, wide receiver, Minnesota
Height, weight: 6-foot-1, 210 pounds.
2020 stats: 36 receptions, 472 yards, 2 TDs.
The Carson Wentz era is underway in Indianapolis. They have a promising young receiver in last year’s second-round pick, Michael Pittman Jr. But they can add to their group by taking Bateman, who is among my favorite players in this class. He has plenty of athletic ability, but is a very competitive and tough receiver, which should bode well for potential success.
22. Tennessee Titans: Greg Newsome, cornerback, Northwestern
Height, weight: 6-foot-1, 190 pounds.
2020 stats: 8 solo tackles, 1 INT, 9 passes defensed.
Newsome has been a riser in the past few weeks, especially following his pro day when he impressed in both the 40 and the vertical jump. After losing Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson, the Titans need some help at corner. Newsome’s combination of speed, size and ball skills make him an intriguing first-round pick.
23. New York Jets via Seattle: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, Notre Dame
Height, weight: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds.
2020 stats: 62 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 11 TFLs, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovered, 3 passes defensed, 1 INT.
There’s a real possibility Owusu-Koramoah is the first linebacker to go. But in this scenario, he drops to the Jets at No. 23 and becomes a versatile chess piece for new head coach Robert Saleh to play with. Owusu-Koramoah seems like a smaller version of Isaiah Simmons. He is an outstanding playmaker but needs a coaching staff who can utilize it properly. I think Saleh fits that description.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Teven Jenkins, offensive tackle, Oklahoma State
Height, weight: 6-foot-6, 320 pounds.
The Steelers are dangerously close to needing a rebuild, and it should start along the offensive line. They need to find the next talented tackle, especially if Alejandro Villanueva leaves in free agency. Jenkins has the ideal build and power for a tackle at the NFL level, but has questions about his athleticism. He could play either side.
25. Jacksonville via Los Angeles: Liam Eichenberg, offensive tackle, Notre Dame
Height, weight: 6-foot-6, 305 pounds.
Jacksonville surprised some when it gave Cam Robinson the franchise tag this offseason. But now that they have Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars should begin the process of investing more into the offensive line. Eichenberg has very good feet, which is a crucial element when looking for tackles. He may not be the most athletic, but his feet and technique can make up for that.
26. Cleveland Browns: Azeez Ojulari, edge rusher, Georgia
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 240 pounds.
2020 stats: 30 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 11.5 TFLs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 passes defensed.
I toyed with the idea of the Browns moving up for Ojulari. But with the way Andrew Berry has handled free agency, I think he might be inclined to be patient here and let the draft come to him. As he does, he gets a quality edge rusher in Ojulari, who has a similar physical frame to Yannick Ngakoue.
Ojulari weighed in at 249 pounds in his Pro Day, which tells me he could potentially play the 4-3 base end. He has all the requisite pass-rush tools that make him worth this pick.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr., wide receiver, LSU
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.
2020 stats: 48 receptions, 731 yards, 10 TDs.
Baltimore missed out on getting a big-time receiver in free agency. Here’s where it finds another big-time option to help Lamar Jackson. Marshall has the size to complement the speedy Marquise Brown. He might be a steal at this point of the draft after showing that he can play well as a No. 1 after being the third receiver behind Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson in 2019.
28. New Orleans Saints: Jaelan Phillips, edge rusher, Miami
Height, weight: 6-foot-5, 260 pounds
2020 stats: 45 tackles, 8 sacks, 15.5 TFLs, 3 passes defensed, 1 INT.
From a positional fit, Phillips can slide right into the slot vacated by Trey Hendrickson. But Phillips’ range is going to be interesting. He could go early in the teens or drop all the way to the end of the first round and beyond. It depends on how teams evaluate his medical history, particularly the concussion problems that forced him to briefly retire from football while at UCLA.
29. Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney, wide receiver, Florida
Height, weight: 6-foot, 193 pounds.
2020 stats: 70 receptions, 984 yards, 10 TDs.
I’ve been of the mindset that the Packers need to give Aaron Rodgers another explosive receiver to maximize the final years of his career. They failed to do so a year ago and shouldn’t pass up the chance to do it in 2021.
Toney has the speed and explosiveness to take the top off a defense, even though he may likely only be a slot receiver in the NFL.
30. Buffalo Bills: Najee Harris, running back, Alabama
Height, weight: 6-foot-2, 230 pounds.
2020 stats: 251 carries, 1,466 yards, 24 TDs, 43 receptions, 425 yards, 4 TDs.
The only thing missing from Buffalo’s great offense is a dynamic running back to make it more complete. Zack Moss and Devin Singletary are fine. But Harris is a step or two above both in terms of talent and athleticism. He improved as a pass catcher in 2020 and presents a problem for teams trying to load up against Josh Allen’s passing game.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Rondale Moore, wide receiver, Purdue
Height, weight: 5-foot-9, 175 pounds.
2020 stats: 35 receptions, 270 yards, 0 TDs.
The bad news for Moore is that he was measured at about 5-foot-7 at his pro day. The good news is that he tested tremendously in both the 40 and his vertical leap.
Despite his lack of height, he should still be a high draft pick simply because he’s incredibly explosive when healthy. Patrick Mahomes can’t have enough quality offensive weapons, and Moore is just that.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore, defensive tackle, Alabama
Height, weight: 6-foot-5, 310 pounds.
2020 stats: 37 tackles, 8 sacks, 9.5 TFLs.
The Buccaneers are keeping the band together for next season. But even if they also bring back Ndamukong Suh, they need to add more youth to the defensive front. Barmore is the best of what is a very weak defensive tackle class. His play in the postseason elevated his stock to where he should be a first-round pick. If he falls this far, he will be a good get for Tampa Bay.
33. Jacksonville: Trevon Moehrig, safety, TCU
34. New York Jets: Travis Etienne, running back, Clemson
35. Atlanta: Jayson Oweh, edge rusher, Penn State
36. Miami via Houston: Zaven Collins, linebacker, Tulsa
37. Philadelphia: Asante Samuel Jr., cornerback, Florida State
38. Cincinnati: Creed Humphrey, interior offensive lineman, Oklahoma
39. Miami (projected trade with Carolina): Javonte Williams, running back, North Carolina
40. Denver: Nick Bolton, linebacker, Missouri
41. Detroit: Dillon Radunz, offensive tackle, North Dakota State
42. New York Giants: Joseph Ossai, edge rusher, Texas
43. San Francisco: Wyatt Davis, interior offensive lineman, Ohio State
44. Dallas: Joe Tryon, edge rusher, Washington
45. Jacksonville (from Minnesota): Pat Freiermuth, tight end, Penn State
46. New England: Kyle Trask, quarterback, Florida
47. Los Angeles Chargers: Richie Grant, safety, UCF
48. Las Vegas: Jamin Davis, linebacker, Kentucky
49. Arizona: Michael Carter, running back, North Carolina
50. Miami: Trey Smith, interior offensive lineman, Tennessee
51. Washington: Jabrill Cox, linebacker, LSU
52. Chicago: Elijah Moore, wide receiver, Ole Miss
53. Tennessee: Alex Leatherwood, offensive tackle, Alabama
54. Indianapolis: Eric Stokes, cornerback, Georgia
55. Pittsburgh: Tyson Campbell, cornerback, Georgia
56. Seattle: Quinn Meinerz, interior offensive lineman, Wisconsin-Whitewater
57. Los Angeles Rams: Jevon Holland, safety, Oregon
58. Baltimore: Ronnie Perkins, edge rusher, Oklahoma
59. Cleveland: Ifeatu Melifonwu, cornerback, Syracuse
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 213 pounds.
2020 stats: 42 solo tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 INT, 9 passes defensed.
Melifonwu might be more raw than some of the other second-round corners. But he has traits teams might be willing to bet on, especially given his incredible frame. You can’t teach those things, but technique can be improved on. That makes him worth the pick here.
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