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Cleveland Browns Draft Predictions for 2021
Coming off an 11-5 campaign and a victory in the playoffs, simply making it to the postseason is no longer the goal in Cleveland.
The Browns offensive line was PFF’s top-rated unit in all of football in 2020 and returns intact. Baker Mayfield is supported by a loaded running back room and three legit tight ends, not to mention, OBJ is set to return as a playmaker on the perimeter.
Shortcomings in the secondary ultimately held this team back – an area that was addressed by the front office right away in free agency.
Andrew Berry lured in Rams defensive backs John Johnson III and Troy Hill, plus he’ll get Grant Delpit back after the #44 pick in 2020 missed all of his rookie season (Achilles).
With that said, Cleveland still needs to find another reliable corner to pair opposite Denzel Ward. That idea segues perfectly into my Browns draft predictions.
Round 1 – Pick #26
- Selection: Asante Samuel Jr.
- Position: CB
- School: Florida State
Cleveland could take pass rusher or a receiver with their lone pick on day one, but three additional selections in the top 92 give them a little bit of leeway.
While Greedy Williams is still a question mark having played a total of 12 games in two seasons, Asante Samuel Jr. looks like a “sure thing.”
We know the pedigree is there – Asante’s father won two Super Bowls and was a two-time First-Team All-Pro. Setting his genes aside, the former Seminole cornerback can defend outside or in the slot and is an extremely dependable tackler. His work in man coverage was outstanding.
A guy many are pegging as one of the potential steals in the 2021 NFL Draft, teams hoping Samuel slides into day two should start making other plans.
We’re talking about a high-floor/high-ceiling prospect who can be integrated as a starter from day one.
Round 2 – Pick #59
- Selection: Ronnie Perkins
- Position: EDGE
- School: Oklahoma
Letting Adrian Clayborn and Olivier Vernon both walk is a clear gesture that this franchise wants to go young on their defensive front, or maybe their hand was forced.
After all, going the cheap route and drafting a rookie defensive end is appropriate given they inked Myles Garrett to a $125 million deal last season.
In need of a five-technique DE who can line up in Joe Woods’ 4-3 base defense, Ronnie Perkins immediately comes to mind.
Quick and heavy hands allow Perkins to thwart running backs from getting to the edge, and he showed discipline on tape when defending the RPO.
If there is one knock on Ronnie deterring him from being a day one selection, it’s his lack of explosiveness compared to some of the other top edge rushers in this class. A suspension in late 2019 for marijuana could also put some teams off.
Round 3 – Pick #90
- Selection: Pete Werner
- Position: LB
- School: Ohio State
A one-year deal for Anthony Walker does not make it imperative for Cleveland to spend one of their day two picks on a linebacker.
However, the team’s leading tackler in 2020 (B.J. Goodson) is still without a deal and adding depth in the middle level is never a bad thing.
In fact, Pete Werner brings enough to the table that he can come in and challenge Sione Takitaki for the team’s starting SAM linebacker job.
Werner made his hay blanketing tight ends in Columbus before gradually evolving into more of an every-down role. And boy was he disciplined and productive.
Pete Werner career at Ohio State: ? 1,958 total snaps ? 2 penalties committed ? 1 TD allowedMarch 4, 2021
Being entrusted with multiple responsibilities while at Ohio State bodes well for Pete’s development at the next level.
Round 3 – Pick #92
- Selection: Damonte Coxie
- Position: WR
- School: Memphis
Odell Beckham Jr. is coming back with a vengeance; Jarvis Landry holds the fort down in the slot. Rashard Higgins is returning on a one-year deal and is expected to serve as Cleveland’s #3 wideout.
Higgins is a nice player who contributed in 2020 (37-599-4), but he didn’t do enough for his status to be cemented. Especially if this Browns mock draft holds true and Andrew Berry plucks a guy like Damonte Coxie in the third round.
A stout 6’3” receiver who can help spread a secondary, Coxie hauled in eight balls in each of his two 2020 games before deciding to opt-out and focus on his draft preparations.
The University of Memphis product did more than enough during his sophomore and junior seasons to be entrenched on NFL GM’s radars.
|Damonte Coxie – By the Numbers|
Damonte ranked first among all FBS pass-catchers with 69 receptions of 15+ yards between 2018 and 2019.
Predictions for the Browns Day 3 Picks
- Round 4, Pick #111 – Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
- Round 4, Pick #133 – Osa Odighizuwa, DT, UCLA
- Round 5, Pick #170 – Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
- Round 6, Pick #212 – Austin Watkins, WR, UAB
- Round 7, Pick #259 – Pooka Williams, RB, Kansas
Paris Ford is a hard-nosed defensive back that can play either safety position and start filling holes in a team’s secondary. Ford is incredibly physical at the point of attack and will make receivers think twice about crossing the middle of the field.
The Browns could use some insurance in the back end if Delpit doesn’t pan out.
With Sheldon Richardson set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021 season, adding another big-bodied defensive tackle to the fray is almost certainly part of the plans.
Osa Odighizuwa is a little light on paper to fit inside the trenches of a D-Line, but his quick burst allows him to penetrate gaps and cause problems in the backfield. Odighizuwa will have time to pack onto his frame while still shining as a situational rusher.
by opting out in 2020.
His top-end speed is a question mark and he’s probably not swift enough to play inside, but he’s shown brilliant technique both off the snap and when tracking balls in mid-air.
Now that the defense has been tended to, rounds six and seven are a good time to take a flier on some offensive upside. Cue in Austin Watkins – a guy who went from JUCO to UAB to being considered as an NFL wide receiver.
Pooka Williams topped 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons in Lawrence running behind a sketchy offensive line. What could attract Cleveland to Williams are his patience and vision – two traits that make Nick Chubb one of the best RBs in the game.
Calculating the Cleveland Browns 2021 Draft Picks
Utilizing six of their nine picks on defensive players is not so much a knock on the D as it is a signal that the offense is in great hands.
When I set out on generating these Browns draft predictions, it was clear that cornerback and edge rusher were the two biggest needs on the roster.
Drafting Asante Samuel Jr. in round one and Ronnie Perkins in round two would certainly confirm that theory.
Beyond that, a little competition for Rashard Higgins adds a dynamic layer to the wide receiving corps. Pete Werner is a flexible linebacker who can play right away, and Paris Ford can do a lot of things in the secondary to help the Browns stay on track.
Unless Cleveland royally screws up their 2021 draft process, the Browns should find themselves knocking on the door for a spot in the AFC Championship game.