The Cleveland Browns were unable to replicate the success they had in 2020 during the 2021 season. The franchise went from going 11-5 and advancing to the Divisional Round to going 8-9 and missing the postseason entirely in 2021.
Injuries played a part in Cleveland’s decline this past season, but the inconsistent play of Baker Mayfield loomed large for the Browns.
With Mayfield entering the final year of his rookie contract, the Browns elected to trade for Deshaun Watson this offseason despite off-the-field concerns. Before the acquisition of Watson, Cleveland had already acquired Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys via trade, giving them a revamped offensive unit for years to come.
Given the moves that the Browns have made this offseason, I’d expect them to set their attention on bolstering their defense in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Browns NFL Draft Picks 2022
- Round 3, Pick 4 (68th Overall): Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
- Round 3, Pick 14 (78th Overall): Alex Wright, DE, UAB
- Round 3, Pick 35 (99th Overall): David Bell, WR, Purdue
- Round 4, Pick 3 (108th Overall): Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
- Round 4, Pick 19 (124th Overall): Cade York, K, LSU
- Round 5, Pick 13 (156th Overall): Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
- Round 6, Pick 24 (202nd Overall): Mike Woods, WR, Oklahoma
- Round 7, Pick 2 (223rd Overall): Isaiah Thomas, EDGE, Oklahoma
- Round 7, Pick 25 (246th Overall): Dawson Deaton, C, Texas Tech
The Browns entered the draft with seven selections, but moves down the board resulted in Cleveland picking nine new players.
Of course, the Browns don’t have a first-round pick until 2025 after dealing for Deshaun Watson, so Cleveland’s draft activity was primarily focused on Day 3 after making their first selections in the third round.
While getting Myles Garrett some help on the defensive line was certainly a priority — the Browns bolstered that unit by selecting Alex Wright and Perrion Winfrey with two of their first four picks — the most intriguing move to me was the addition of wideout David Bell.
Bell was a standout talent at Purdue, making 10+ catches four times during his senior season and topping 200 receiving yards twice (against Iowa and Michigan State). He could carve out a role in this offense, which no longer features Odell Beckham Jr. or Jarvis Landry.
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Note: The Browns NFL Draft predictions below were published before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pre-Draft Browns NFL Mock Draft Predictions 2022
- Round 2, Pick 12 (44th Overall): DeMarvin Leal, IDL, Texas A&M
- Round 3, Pick 14 (78th Overall): Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
- Round 3, Pick 35 (99th Overall): Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
More Possible Browns Draft Targets: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State; Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State; Phidarian Mathis, IDL, Alabama; Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
Pre-Draft Browns Team Needs 2022
1. Interior Defensive Line
The Browns’ current depth chart at defensive tackle is Jordan Elliott, Malik McDowell, and Taven Bryan. I’d argue that Cleveland needs to address the interior of their defensive front more than anything to bolster the defensive line around Myles Garrett.
2. EDGE Rusher
Getting an edge rusher that can pressure quarterbacks on the opposite side of Garrett should be a priority for the Browns. Jadeveon Clowney is still a free agent, but the chances of him returning to Cleveland seem to be below 50 percent.
While the Browns acquired Chase Winovich in a trade with the New England Patriots for Mack Wilson, they could still use a dynamic pass rusher to pair with Garrett.
3. Inside Linebacker
The Browns have been longing to find someone to fill the inside linebacker role since Joe Schobert left ahead of the 2020 season. Cleveland thought Wilson could replace him, only to trade him for Winovich this offseason. This year’s draft appears to have a few athletic linebackers that could interest the Browns.
Browns May Also Consider Drafting: WR, S, OL Depth