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NFL Draft 101: Everything to know for the Browns, Ohio State and Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The NFL Draft is coming to Cleveland next week. Northeast Ohio will serve as the launching pad for college football players into the professional ranks.

In preparation for the three-day event, starting Thursday, April 29, cleveland.com has you covered with everything from NFL Draft 101 to what’s going on with the Browns and Ohio State:

NFL Draft 101

First, if you’re new to the concept of the NFL Draft as a Cleveland native wondering what this event is all about, keep this in mind:

⦁ College football’s top players enter the draft each year, picked by NFL teams in reverse order of their record from the previous season. The Jacksonville Jaguars had the league’s worst record last season at 1-15 and thus have the No. 1 pick on April 29. The New York Jets, who finished 2-14, are second. The Browns, who finished 11-5 and made the playoffs, will not pick until the No. 26 selection. That process continues for seven rounds, which will be conducted through Saturday.

⦁ The NFL held the draft every year in New York City from 1965 through 2014. It began opening the draft’s location to bidding cities, and Chicago won the first two in 2015 and ’16. Philadelphia hosted the event in 2017, followed by Dallas in 2018 and Nashville in 2019.

⦁ The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is responsible for bringing this year’s draft to Northeast Ohio. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, the draft reportedly had an economic impact of $224 million on Nashville. While this year’s event will not be the same, GCSC president and CEO David Gilbert hopes it will help jumpstart downtown, economically, after the pandemic.

⦁ Last year’s draft was held virtually with it initially intended for Las Vegas, which will host next year’s draft.

⦁ The draft will be broadcast nationally on ESPN and NFL Network with live coverage beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 29. The second and third rounds follow on April 30 and the fourth through seventh rounds are May 1. The picks will be announced from the main stage with Lake Erie as the backdrop. Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to announce the first-round picks, while other NFL personnel and former greats are among those who announce picks in later rounds.

⦁ The Browns have nine picks in this year’s draft, including two each in rounds three and four.

Pre-draft analysis on the Browns

⦁ Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins is a favorite among Football Insider subscribers, and he is one of three players Dan Labbe believes the Browns should consider, if available, at No. 26 in the draft. Two more to keep an eye on: Northwestern cornerback Gregory Newsome II and Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman.

⦁ Readers ranked the Browns’ positions of need for the draft. Before the Jadeveon Clowney signing, they had edge rusher atop the list. Cornerback and defensive tackle followed with linebacker fourth, writes Scott Patsko, who broke down each position.

⦁ Landing a corner, an edge rusher and lots of depth is how the Browns can win the draft, writes Dan Labbe.

⦁ With free agency about done, Terry Pluto looks at how the Browns should consider drafting.

⦁ Should the Browns trade up, down or not at all? Our crew dives into that topic in the Orange and Brown Talk podcast.

Positional breakdowns

⦁ Ellis Williams took a look each positions of emphasis and broke each one down with the hypothetical of the Browns taking a player at that position in the early rounds. If they take a wide receiver, one comes to mind: Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman. Landing him will cost a first-round pick, wrote Williams, who added additional players to watch for the following rounds.

⦁ If the Browns select a linebacker early in the draft Zaven Collins, writes Williams, who broke down his positives and negatives.

⦁ If the Browns select an edge rusher, Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari topped the list of potential players to consider for Williams. As for Clowney, Williams wrote the Browns can let the board fall to them regardless of the signing.

What history is saying

⦁ Baker Mayfield is the only quarterback in the NFL drafted in the top five from 2009 to 2018 and still with his original team. It’s been a particularly bad year for quarterbacks drafted in the top five in that span, writes Mary Kay Cabot, with four of them getting the boot this offseason from the team that drafted them: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Mitch Trubisky and Sam Darnold, all selected from 2016-2018.

⦁ Looking back on previous quarterbacks drafted in the top five, what can the Browns learn from them with Mayfield. That was the subject of an Orange and Brown Talk podcast with Mary Kay Cabot, Dan Labbe and Scott Patsko.

⦁ Terry Pluto is looking back on what happened to former Browns players on their draft day. He started with 2000 and fourth-round pick Aaron Shea.

⦁ Greg Pruitt wasn’t drafted by his former college coach at Oklahoma, Chuck Fairbanks, who made the picks for New England in the 1973 draft. The Browns passed on Pruitt twice in the first round, but Pluto details the running back’s experience coming to Cleveland.

⦁ Thanks to Vince Lombardi and his relationship with Paul Brown, Ernie Green became a member of the Browns. Pluto looks back on that 1962 draft, where Cleveland took Ernie Davis with the top pick.

⦁ Brian Brennan sat in his dorm room at Boston College on the day of the 1984 draft, as Pluto details the former wide receiver’s experience.

⦁ If the Browns don’t trade out of the 26th pick, they will make their lowest initial selection of the first round since 1995. They took Ohio State linebacker Craig Powell with the 30th pick that year. There is history with Cleveland and the 26th pick. The Browns have held it seven times, and Scott Patsko breaks down the unfortunate, infamous and forgotten.

⦁ What could the No. 26 pick net the Browns? Here’s what history says of the last 10 years of the draft.

Mock drafts

⦁ What does the Jadeveon Clowney signing mean for the Browns’ draft plans? Tim Bielik takes a look in his mock draft 7.0.

⦁ Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah of Notre Dame is a popular pick for the Browns in our latest mock draft roundup.

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws during an NFL Pro Day at Ohio State University Tuesday, March 30, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)AP

What to know for Ohio State

⦁ Justin Fields will break Ohio State’s NFL quarterback curse, writes Nathan Baird, and one statistic all but guarantees it.

⦁ Ohio State coach Ryan Day addressed criticisms of Fields. “His work ethic was off the charts,” Day said of the Heisman Trophy finalist.

⦁ Can Jonathan Cooper raise his NFL ceiling by switching from defensive end to linebacker? He came to Ohio State as a four-star defensive end in 2016, writes Stephen Means.

⦁ Will Trey Sermon pick up where he left off for Ohio State? The running back closed the 2020 season with a dominant stretch before an abrupt injury, writes Nathan Baird.

⦁ Paris Johnson Jr. is sacrificing his NFL trajectory in a “seamless” transition to guard, writes Nathan Baird. Johnson has put together an impressive spring, moving from tackle to guard, but what does it mean for his long-term NFL potential?

Who’s coming?

⦁ Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence will watch from Clemson instead of attending in Cleveland, writes Mary Kay Cabot.

⦁ In Lawrence, former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will draft the quarterback he’s been waiting to have his entire career, writes Doug Lesmerises.

⦁ Former St. Ignatius standout Liam Eichenberg’s draft stock was pushed by head-to-head matchups at Notre Dame, writes Matt Goul.

⦁ A look at the prospects from Ohio who could be picked during the draft, compiled by Matt Goul.

⦁ Zach Wilson of BYU emerged as a top quarterback prospect in this year’s draft. Ellis Williams details how Baker Mayfield paved the way for him to become a top-three pick.

⦁ Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance accepted invitations to attend the draft in Cleveland, writes Mary Kay Cabot.

What’s going on around town?

⦁ The NFL created a OnePass app for fans to reserve tickets and attend the draft for free. Capacity will be limited, writes Tim Bielik, while the Draft Experience will feature a 40-yard dash and vertical jump against NFL players on LED screens. FirstEnergy Stadium also will be open for fans to kick a field goal.

⦁ How does Destination Cleveland plan to promote the draft and city? Susan Glaser provides a breakdown.

⦁ The Black Pumas and Machine Gun Kelly are scheduled to perform at the draft, writes Marc Bona.

⦁ Rich Eisen and Charles Davis will anchor the NFL Network’s live draft coverage from Cleveland. Mike Greenberg will lead ESPN’s primetime coverage, while “College Gameday” host Rece Davis and Maria Taylor will conduct a college-focused broadcast on ABC.

The first round of the draft begins 8 p.m. April 29. The second and third rounds start at 7 p.m. April 30, and the final four rounds will begin at noon May 1.

⦁ Kings of Leon, a Nashville-based rock group, will perform on April 29 at the Draft Theater stage. The NFL will stream the full concert on NFL.com, in the NFL app and on the league’s Facebook page.

⦁ A list of community events happening around Cleveland, compiled by Cameron Fields.

⦁ How and where to buy hats the players will wear, shirts and more from the 2021 NFL Draft.

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