Podloski’s Re-Grading of the 2020 Draft Class: Cleveland Browns

Podloski’s Re-Grading of the 2020 Draft Class: Cleveland Browns

by June 26, 2021 1 comment

The Cleveland Browns have changed the fate of their team and made picks that were successful and made an immediate impact. The draft looked to be one of the best in the league right after the draft. It looked as though the Browns drafted two starting-caliber players in Jedrick Wills Jr. and Grant Delpit, rotational starters in Jordan Elliott and Jacob Phillips, and developmental pieces in Harrison Bryant, Nick Harris, and Donovan Peoples-Jones. In reality, the team ended up with what looks like a franchise tackle, a pocket-pushing defensive tackle, and tight end who could replace Austin Hooper in the future. That aside, two others would go down to injury, but the rest had meaningful contributions and played more than many thought they would. Overall, these rookies made a positive impact on a deep push into the playoffs. 

Be sure to check out all of Podloski’s 2020 NFL Draft Re-Grades.

Draft Class

Best Pick: Jedrick Wills OT, Alabama

Wills is already a staple of the Brown’s offensive line and their ascension. He’s the crown jewel of this class, and his consistency game to game puts him in consideration as one of the best players drafted in this class. Notably, offensive line play has a wide array of outcomes as they face different competition game to game, which can influence how well they play. If Wills can continue his high-level play against elite pass-rushers, he should be considered a cornerstone piece on the Browns team. 

Questionable Selection: Jacob Philips, LB, LSU

This is nitpicking, as the Browns took a shot at a high upside linebacker with developmental traits, who ended up getting injured. However, when looking back at the scouting notes for Philips, the problem was he struggled with processing and diagnosing plays (a difficult thing to develop). For a team with a hole at linebacker, taking a boom-bust player wasn’t going to solve the problem, but it was a chance at finding a player with a high ceiling. 

Late Bloomer: Grant Delpit, S, LSU

Delpit was considered a sure-fire top-five selection going into the 2019 season. However, the concerns over tackling and sideline to sideline speed, along with injuries dropped him to the second round. In addition to his slide in the draft, Delpit tore his Achilles before the season and lost out on his rookie year. While the story might seem like it’s not going well, Delpit has the natural talent to be a high-end starter in the NFL. The talent is there, he needs to stay on the field.

Player to Keep an Eye On: Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan & Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic

Peoples-Jones and Bryant both showed flashes last year. The question is the development and if they can take the next step to be full-time starters. Bryant showed excellent spatial awareness and great catching ability, which could make him a long-term replacement for Hooper or David Njoku. Peoples-Jones’s path to the field is a little more hazardous with a returning Odell Beckham Jr. and stud in Jarvis Landry. Peoples-Jones flashes should warrant enough to get rotational reps as a backup for the outside receiver position. His range, body control, and ball skills could allow him to be another long-term replacement. 

What they Should have Done: Nothing 

Overall the process of the draft was ‘A+’ worthy for a grade, but an injury to Delpit and Phillips means there is still some analysis to do for this draft. If Delpit can hit the ground running as a safety this year, he could be a difference-maker with his play recognition and instincts. Philips was discussed above, but both players have a reasonable chance to see a significant number of reps this year. 

Summary

The Browns continue to make picks that have long-term and short-term value, the biggest hindrance to a higher grade was the injuries to Delpit and Philips. With the Willis pick, the team got a franchise-changing player who has the makings of a cornerstone offensive linemen. In addition, Elliott showed flashes to be a good interior pass rusher, but he just needs to get better at stopping the run. The late-round shots to players who have the potential to be starters and long-term replacements in Peoples-Jones and Bryant. Overall, this draft was very successful and could end up being a cornerstone draft for the Browns for years to come. 

Final Grade: A (One of the Most Successful Drafts, with Borderline Elite contribution)


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Contributor for Prime Time Sports Talk for the NFL. Covering the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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