CLEVELAND, Ohio — With a little luck, a third-round pick in the NFL Draft can further help a franchise.
The Browns will have two such opportunities April 30 in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, where they have selections at pick Nos. 89 and 91.
Here are the 10 best third-round picks at No. 89 or later in the last decade.
John Johnson III, Boston College safety
Selection: No. 91 in 2017
Drafted by: Los Angeles Rams
About the pick: The Browns now have two of the best third-round safeties drafted in recent years, signing Johnson this offseason after trading last year for Ronnie Harrison from Jacksonville. Johnson was one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded players last season (85.3 overall on defense) and has been productive for most of his four seasons with the Rams, netting him a three-year, $33.7 million contract this year from Cleveland.
Jonnu Smith, Florida International tight end
Selection: No. 100 in 2017
Drafted by: Tennessee
About the pick: New England signed Smith this offseason to a four-year deal after four years as a starter for the Titans. Smith was considered one of the top free-agent tight ends this offseason and has 114 career receptions for 1,302 yards and 16 touchdowns. He scored half of those TDs last season for Tennessee.
Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic outside linebacker
Selection: No. 103 in 2017
Drafted by: New Orleans
About the pick: Hendrickson also cashed in this offseason with a four-year, $60 million contract from Cincinnati. He had a career-high 13.5 sacks last season, his first as a full-time starter, with New Orleans.
Javon Hargrave, South Carolina State defensive tackle
Selection: No. 89 in 2016
Drafted by: Pittsburgh
About the pick: Another player who gave his initial team four solid years before signing elsewhere, Hargrave joined Philadelphia in 2020 on a three-year, $39 million deal. He started for Pittsburgh during much of his rookie contract and graded at 83.4, according to PFF, in his final season while stepping up for injured teammate Stephon Tuitt.
Justin Simmons, Boston College safety
Selection: No. 98 in 2016
Drafted by: Denver
About the pick: Simmons made his first Pro Bowl team in 2020 and is on the franchise tag in Denver, where he’s also received high grades in recent seasons from PFF. Simmons has a combine nine interceptions the last two years and 16 total in his five-year career. He’s also accumulated more than 90 tackles in each of the last three seasons.
John Brown, Pittsburgh State wide receiver
Selection: No. 91 in 2014
Drafted by: Arizona
About the pick: As part of a stellar 2014 wide receiver class that included the Browns’ Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Brown — now with Buffalo — has two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his career. The first came in 2015 with the Cardinals.
Trai Turner, LSU guard
Selection: No. 92 in 2014
Drafted by: Carolina
About the pick: Before Carolina traded him to the Los Angeles Chargers last year for Russell Okung in a swap of linemen, Turner made five straight Pro Bowls with the Panthers. The Chargers cut him in March.
Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern defensive tackle
Selection: No. 94 in 2013
Drafted by: Baltimore
About the pick: The Ravens’ big defensive tackle became a starter in his second season and made the Pro Bowl in 2018. He’s remained in Baltimore for all eight years of his career and is entering the final season of a $54 million contract.
Akiem Hicks, Regina (Canada) defensive end
Selection: No. 89 in 2012
Drafted by: New Orleans
About the pick: Hicks initially committed to LSU, but recruiting violations with the Tigers led him to Canada. He turned down an offer to play in the CFL and instead played for the Regina Rams of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association and made an NFL impression at the East-West Shrine Game. He won a starting job by his second year in New Orleans and signed with Chicago after his rookie deal. Hicks made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and has 37 career sacks.
T.Y. Hilton, Florida International wide receiver
Selection: No. 92 in 2012
Drafted by: Indianapolis
About the pick: The Colts took Hilton toward the end of the third round after building their offense with Andrew Luck atop the 2012 draft. Of course, Luck’s career took a turn for the worse with injuries but Hilton’s play remained steady. He made four straight Pro Bowls, led the league in receiving yards once and re-signed in March with Indianapolis.
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