BEREA, Ohio — Editor's note: Video in the player at the top of this story was originally published in a previous NFL Draft story on April 25, 2022.
The 2022 NFL Draft is set to begin on Thursday night out in Las Vegas. This year’s draft will be a bit different, seeing as eight teams this year do not have a first-round draft pick, while eight different teams have a pair of first-round picks.
The Cleveland Browns are one of the teams without a pick in the first round due to the trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Originally, the team was scheduled to pick 13th overall, but that pick now belongs to the Houston Texans.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous Browns story on March 25, 2022.
Just because the Browns don’t have a pick in the first round on Thursday night doesn’t mean that the team doesn’t have plenty of needs worth addressing this week. As of now, the first opportunity for the Browns to make a selection this week will come on Friday night at pick No. 44 overall. The Browns do have a pair of selections in the third round at Nos. 78 and 99 overall. Cleveland also owns their own fourth-round pick at No. 118 overall as well as a pick from Dallas at No. 202 overall, Detroit at No. 223 overall and Buffalo at No. 246 overall.
It's with those picks that the Browns will look to fill holes -- not only now, but in the future as well. Browns general manager Andrew Berry has stated on record that he views the NFL Draft as an avenue to improve the future outlook of the team more so than the present one. Finding a way to somehow do both this week would be ideal for the Browns.
Here are four needs the Browns have going into this week’s NFL Draft...
Earlier this offseason the Browns traded a pair of late-round draft picks to the Dallas Cowboys for wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver with the Raiders and Cowboys, will certainly improve the team’s group of pass catchers, but he won’t be enough alone to make it a Super Bowl-caliber group. The Browns will also be counting on improvements from third-year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and second-year player Anthony Schwartz. Even then, it’s a group that’s a bit short on bodies and talent. The team ultimately could still bring back Jarvis Landry, who is sitting in free agency, but should be strongly considering selecting a receiver when it is finally on the clock at No. 44 overall.
The Browns have one of the NFL’s best pass rushers in former No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett. He’s going to be a NFL Defensive Player of the Year favorite for years to come, but the Browns don’t have anyone to consistently play alongside him at this point. Last year, Jadeveon Clowney was terrific on the other side of Garrett, but as of this writing he’s still a free agent. A return to the Browns could be in the cards as a social media flirtation between Garrett and others with Clowney did occur last week. If the team doesn’t view Clowney as a viable option to bring back to bolster the defensive line, then drafting an edge rusher at No. 44 overall could make sense. If Clowney does return, finding another player at this spot later in the draft could prove helpful.
Right now, it’s probably fair to say that defensive tackle is the weakest spot for the Browns defensively. As things stand, the Browns will be counting on third-year player Jordan Elliot and second-year defensive tackle Tommy Togiai to make an impact in the middle of the defensive front. It’s been shown through Berry’s draft and free agency strategy that defensive tackle isn’t a position of value in this system, but the Browns do need to improve upon that area. While it may not happen in the second round, it’s fair to expect one to be drafted by the Browns at some point this weekend.
Yes, the Browns still need to find a kicker. Since Phil Dawson departed the franchise after the 2012 season, the Browns have been abysmal at that position. Spending a draft pick on a kicker as early as the sixth-round could make quite a bit of sense for the Browns.