The 2021 NFL Draft begins on April 29, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs and pinpoints their potential 2021 NFL Draft targets.
The Cleveland Browns are the subject of today’s 2021 NFL Draft profile.
The Cleveland Browns are riding a wave of momentum following their most successful season since returning to the NFL in 1999. Cleveland won their first playoff game since their pre expansion days, disposing of arch rival Pittsburgh in the wild card round. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is coming off a season where he elevated his game when it mattered most, throwing 26 touchdowns in comparison to just eight interceptions.
The Browns offense flourished after the injury to Odell Beckham Jr, which has some pundits questioning his future with the Browns. Cleveland’s general manager Andrew Berry has shot down any rumors of Odell being on the move, as the wideout is still extremely capable of being a difference maker for an already potent offensive attack.
Cleveland struggled at times in 2020 on defense, as Andrew Berry was quick to address those needs as soon as free agency began. Berry’s first move was bringing in safety John Johnson, a player who will significantly aid a Browns secondary that dealt with a significant amount of injures a season ago. Berry also inked another former Ram, cornerback Troy Hill; one of the premier slot defenders in the league from 2020. Cleveland also needed help at linebacker, and that is where the addition of former Colt Anthony Walker will pay dividends. Walker is an extremely talented run defender and will certainly help anchor an improved Browns defense. Cleveland finished off free agency by signing Jadeveon Clowney to a one year contract. While Clowney finished 2020 without a sack, he played through a core muscle injury and was still and extremely disruptive force in the run game.
Cleveland will have nine picks to use in the 2021 NFL Draft.
First Round (one pick) No. 26
Second Round (one pick) No. 59
Third Round (two picks) No. 89, No. 91
Fourth Round (two picks) No. 110, No. 132
Fifth Round (one pick) No. 169
Sixth Round (one pick) No. 211
Seventh Round (one pick) No. 257
Defensive End- Even with the singings of Takk McKinley and Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland would be smart to continue to search for a longterm answer opposite Myles Garrett as those players are signed to just one year deals. The Browns received excellent contributions from Olivier Vernon a season ago, and replacing the former New York Giant is still at the top of Cleveland’s wish list.
Cornerback- The Browns will benefit from the return of Greedy Williams who missed the entire season due to a nerve issue in his shoulder. Despite that, questions surrounding Williams’ durability remain following a severe injury. Troy Hill can play on the outside opposite Denzel Ward if needed, but the Browns would be smart to primarily play the former Ram in the slot, a spot where he flourished a season ago in Brandon Staley’s defense. Finding another capable corner to compete with Greedy Williams will only bolster what on paper looks like a much improved secondary.
Linebacker- Cleveland’s base defense only utilizes two linebackers on the field at a time, and Anthony Walker should be penciled in as a starter from day one. Cleveland’s remaining linebackers are somewhat young and inexperienced, with the exception of former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. While Walker excels at stopping the run, Cleveland could use a linebacker that can match up against opposing tight ends.
Wide Receiver- This might be somewhat of a long shot, given the fact that the Browns are bringing back their entire receivers room from last season, but Cleveland’s lack of gamebreaking speed was evident after the injury to Odell Beckham Jr. If Cleveland can find a speedster for good value in the draft, they could opt to go that route.
2021 Draft Targets
Pick No. 26: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Owusu-Koramoah possess elite speed at the linebacker position, something that is extremely necessary when going up against Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen. He is the best pure cover linebacker in this draft, as he acted as a true hybrid for Notre Dame’s stingy defense. His ability to defend opposing tight ends and running backs is just what Cleveland needs on what was a much maligned defense at times last season.
Pick No. 59: Terrace Marshall, WR, LSU
Marshall was an excellent red zone target throughout his time at LSU, scoring 23 touchdowns in the last two seasons. He has excellent hands and good size, which allows him to box out opposing cornerbacks for 50/50 throws. While Marshall needs to improve his route running, he would be allowed to develop behind the likes of Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Rashard Higgins on the depth chart.
Pick No. 89: Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
Wilson possesses terrific pass rushing skills for a player of his size, and would be a fantastic addition to the Browns’ defensive interior behind Sheldon Richardson and Andrew Billings. While Wilson needs to develop a stronger lower body as double teams oftentimes gave him trouble in college, his overall pass rushing upside might be too much for Cleveland to pass on in round three.
Pick No 91: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Another versatile defender, Adebo played all over the secondary during his time at Stanford, including some time at free safety. He is a willing run defender, making impact plays near or behind the line of scrimmage. Where Adebo needs to improve is in press coverage, an area that he was seldomly utilized in in college. While there is some concern about Adebo being three years removed from his most productive college season, he would provide Cleveland with versatile depth behind the likes of Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and Troy Hill. Adebo opted out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic.