LAS VEGAS — Editor's note: Video in the player above features an in-depth conversation about the 2022 NFL Draft overall.
The 2022 NFL Draft has arrived -- and it’s a bit of an unusual time for the Cleveland Browns. The franchise has typically had its years centered around the NFL Draft since returning to the field in 1999, but that has now changed.
While the Browns originally did finish with an 8-9 record that granted them the No. 13 overall pick in this draft, it was traded away to the Houston Texans as part of a package for quarterback Deshaun Watson. That means unless something crazy happens via trade, the Browns will not be making a selection on Thursday night.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous Browns story on March 25, 2022.
With that being the case, it doesn’t mean that things happening on Thursday night won’t be impactful to what happens with the Cleveland Browns for the rest of the weekend and beyond.
Here are three things to watch for on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft...
What does Carolina do at No. 6?
There remains a sizable amount of intrigue at the top of the draft this year. Most years, the top overall pick is known weeks, if not months, in advance. This year, the betting odds have told us it’s likely going to be Georgia’s Travon Walker, but that has changed a number of times throughout the last couple of months. Anything can happen in the top five this year.
That leads us to the Carolina Panthers with the No. 6 overall selection. There are a number of different directions they could go, but if the Panthers decline to take a quarterback here, it opens the door for a potential Baker Mayfield trade. There have been rumors circulating during the past couple of weeks about Carolina as a potential landing spot for Mayfield, and if the Panthers select a player at any position other than quarterback, then the door is open for Mayfield to be moved over the weekend. If a quarterback like Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett ends up on the Panthers by the end of the night, the Browns’ search for a trade partner for Mayfield will likely continue on longer than many would hope.
How many wide receivers are taken in the first 32 picks
It’s no secret that the Browns still have a hole on their roster at the wide receiver position. The good news is the wide receiver group in this year’s draft is thought of as fantastic. The bad news is that the top seven or eight of them may be gone by the time the Browns are on the clock at No. 44 overall.
It’s become obvious that the top wide receivers won’t be available when the second round starts on Friday. The chances of Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave sliding in the draft are incredibly slim, and the same could be said for Alabama’s Jameson Williams and Southern California’s Drake London. Now, the question becomes, how many other receivers are taken before Thursday night is over?
Does Penn State’s Jahan Dotson slide out of the first round? It could happen. What about Treylon Burks of Arkansas? That may be a bit more unlikely, but can’t be ruled out. Is Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore scooped up before the night ends? Maybe.
This won’t tell the whole story for the Browns as far as who is available at No. 44 on Friday night, but the fewer receivers taken in the first round the better for Cleveland. FanDuel sets the line for receivers taken in the first round at 6.5. Less than that would be very good news for the Browns, while a number higher than that could mean the Browns need to look elsewhere with their first pick in this year’s draft.
How the rest of the AFC North fares
The thing that many Browns fans will be watching while the Browns don’t have a pick is who will be joining the teams that the Browns play the most. In this year’s draft the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals all have one first-round pick. The Ravens will be the first up, making their selection at No. 14, followed by the Steelers at No. 20 and the Bengals at No. 31.
Baltimore needs help on the defensive side of the football, specifically in the secondary and the defensive line, the Steelers could very well be drafting their quarterback of the future and the Bengals need to continue to improve the offensive line if they hope to make it back to another Super Bowl.
All three teams will be in position to add a good player in the draft, but the most intriguing team is Pittsburgh. This draft isn’t thought of as a strong one for quarterbacks, and the Steelers could actually be selecting the first quarterback of the night at No. 20 depending on how things shake out. Who they select could be the guy the Browns are tasked to beat for the next decade.