The 2023 campaign will arrive with heightened expectations for the Cleveland Browns. A 12-game suspension to starting quarterback Deshaun Watson capped Cleveland’s potential in 2022. That won’t be the case next season.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry must focus on building a more complete team around their quarterback despite the absence of a first-round selection. More pass-catching talent is required to complement Amari Cooper and David Njoku. New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz requires playmakers at all levels to properly implement his incoming scheme.
With that being said and with plenty of moves still to come ahead of April’s draft, here’s what a seven-round draft for the Browns might look like if it happened now.
(Note: I completed this mock draft using the Beta version of our Mock Draft Machine 2.0, which you can access by becoming a TDN Premium member!)
Round 2 (No. 43 overall): Calijah Kancey DT, Pittsburgh
Defensive tackle is the largest position hole on Cleveland’s roster. Taven Bryan is a free agent and should only return for rotational pass-rush situations. Perrion Winfrey has flashed development but is far from a finished product. Jordan Elliott hasn’t met expectations.
The Browns should have some good defensive tackle options at 43rd overall. Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey, who essentially won the NFL Scouting Combine, may represent the best choice. Kancey electrified onlookers by running a 4.67 40-yard dash, which is the fastest defensive tackle time since 2000. Don’t ignore Kancey’s 1.64 10-yard split, either. There are obvious size and length deficiencies, but Kancey is an athletic spark plug with rare quickness. Placing him on a line next to Myles Garrett would represent an ideal outcome for all involved.
Round 3 (No. 99 overall): Adetomiwa Adebawore EDGE, Northwestern
The ever-controversial Jadeveon Clowney won’t return to the Browns in 2023. Who will start opposite Garrett? Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas remain in Cleveland’s plans, but Chase Winovich is set for unrestricted free agency. Better depth is required.
Adetomiwa Adebawore ripped the lid off the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-2, 282-pound Adebawore ran the 40-yard dash in an unfathomable 4.49 seconds. Adebawore ran the fastest 40 of any player over 275 pounds since 2003, per Next Gen Stats. On tape, Adebawore is a versatile defender that can reduce inside on third-and-obvious passing situations.
Round 4 (No. 112 overall): JL Skinner SAF, Boise State
The Browns will release starting safety John Johnson III, according to multiple reports. The Browns took a one-year flier on Ronnie Harrison, who isn’t expected to return in 2023. Grant Delpit will have a new running mate next season.
Boise State’s JL Skinner is a tone-setter that fits Schwartz’ hard-nosed defensive profile. A physically imposing figure, Skinner is capable of playing man coverage against opposing tight ends as a big nickel/dime defender. Schwartz would place Skinner in advantageous positions.
Round 4 (No. 127 overall): Payne Durham TE, Purdue
The Browns should possess an interest in adding a versatile tight end to pair with the well-performing Njoku. Harrison Bryant disappointed in that role throughout 2022. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski loves 12-personnel but was limited due to a lack of quality depth behind Njoku.
Payne Durham spent the Senior Bowl proving he’s effective both as a blocker and pass catcher. Durham entered Mobile with a reputation as a tough and competitive blocker, but he showcased untapped potential in the passing game, too. Durham would be the perfect Robin to Njoku’s Batman.
Round 5 (No. 143 overall): Jayden Reed WR, Michigan State
Cooper is a bonafide No. 1 receiver and Donovan Peoples-Jones took a step forward in 2022 with a career-high 61 receptions and 839 receiving yards. I still think Cleveland will draft another receiver to contend for snaps alongside David Bell and Anthony Schwartz, who still haven’t grown into full-time roles.
Jayden Reed was arguably the most impressive receiver at this year’s Senior Bowl. Opposing cornerbacks couldn’t match Reed’s foot quickness and route-running prowess. He’d look great opposite Cooper and Peoples-Jones.
Round 5 (No. 145 overall): Moro Ojomo DT, Texas
Cleveland’s depth at defensive tackle is bad enough to consider doubling down at the position. Texas’ Moro Ojomo had an excellent showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. Ojomo posted a 33-inch vertical, which places him above the 90th percentile. Ojomo is big, tough, and mean—he also hit 29 reps on the bench press. Drafting both Kancey and Ojomo would give Cleveland multiple body types.
Round 6 (No. 191 overall): Carrington Valentine CB, Kentucky
Greedy Williams is an unrestricted free agent. A.J. Green and Thomas Graham Jr. are exclusive right free agents, which means they should be back in Cleveland next season. The Browns could use a day-three selection to enhance backend positional depth. Carrington Valentine is extremely physical in coverage. Valentine also has a dynamic background as a kickoff returner.
Round 7 (No. 232 overall): Richard Gouraige OL Florida
The Browns are deep across the offensive line, but keeping the cupboard stocked with a shrewd late-round selection is always a worthy exercise. Richard Gouraige has terrific body mass and length. Gouraige is a nasty people-mover as a plus-run blocker.
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