Cleveland Browns 2021 NFL Draft Recapby Jonas Clark May 5, 2021 0 comments
The 2021 NFL Draft was a weird one for the Cleveland Browns and their fan base, and that’s not a bad thing. Cleveland hosted the draft, and their own first pick was late in the round back at 26th overall. Coming off of their first playoff appearance since the 2002 season and first playoff victory since the 1994 season, it was something new for fans under 30 years old. Considering Baker Mayfield’s struggles in 2019, it was also the first time the team entered the draft feeling solid at quarterback. Not bad, just weird.
With nine picks in this draft, there was no expectation that the Browns would keep them all, and they didn’t. In total, Cleveland made eight selections and two trades across the three days of the draft. They also picked up a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft from the Detroit Lions.
Make sure to check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft Team Recaps.
Best Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah aka JOK (Round 2, Pick 52)
Taking an early first-round talent like JOK 52nd overall is a steal if there’s ever been one. PTST’s Mason Thompson noted Owusu-Koramoah’s versatility in his scouting report on the linebacker, which exactly fits the almost position-less defense that the Browns envision this season. Not every team needs a defensive Swiss Army knife, but Cleveland did, even with his injury history. They had to trade up to secure him, but it should prove well worth it.
For more on Owusu-Koramoah, check out our scouting report on him here.
Worst Pick: Tommy Togiai (Round 4, Pick 132)
The Browns needed to shore up their defensive front this offseason, especially after losing both Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi at defensive tackle. Taking Togiai out of Ohio State in the fourth round brings in a body, sure. Taking him that early, though? That’s a head-scratcher, as NFL.com had him projected in the sixth or seventh round. Given the injury history of offseason acquisitions Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley, drafting depth on the edge would’ve made more sense. Fans in Ohio will be happy to see the Buckeye stay in-state, but Cleveland’s title window is cracked open. Should the Browns face depth issues on the edge this season, this pick will stand out.
Sleeper Pick: Anthony Schwartz (Round 3, Pick 91)
It may seem odd to have a third-round selection as a sleeper, but Schwartz, who was the fastest player in the draft, has a real chance to out-perform his draft position. Running a 4.26 40-yard dash in a straight line is one thing, but the Browns likely imagine him coming around the edge on reverses. Of course, the vertical speed opens up down-field plays with his ability to get behind defenders. Additionally, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have handled their share of special team’s duties in Cleveland, and Schwartz has a chance to stand out in the league there too. Is the third round too early for a gadget player and special teams specialist? Probably.
For more on Schwartz, check out our scouting report on him here.
The front office made major acquisitions on defense in the offseason and continued to show their commitment to the unit in the 2021 NFL Draft. Of their eight selections, five were used on defensive players, including the team’s first two picks. Greg Newsome II and Owusu-Koramoah could both push for starting roles early in the season, though it’s not likely. With the selections, the Browns elevate the quality of their depth while developing them for bigger roles in years to come. That Cleveland didn’t ignore the offensive side of the ball is a mature move. Offensive tackle James Hudson is a project, and Schwartz fits a specific role immediately. Togiai is simply depth and hardly more at this moment.
Overall Grade: A