American Football

Browns weekly mock draft with two key defensive free agents signed as well


NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A mock plus free agent decisions, what could be better?

It is Friday morning and it is time for your weekly Cleveland Browns mock draft from Dawgs By Nature. Every week we will attempt to look at the team’s options in a variety of ways. Whether that is through using different mock draft simulators, making trades of picks or, in today’s case, adding in a touch of free agency to the scenario.

Before today’s mock draft, we will first make three moves related to veterans. First, we will let go of S John Johnson III with a June 1st designation to free up cap space for our second move. Second, we will be signing S Jessie Bates III from the rival Cincinnati Bengals to a significant contract but, thanks to the general safety market, won’t have to break the bank for a true star at the position.

Finally, we will be addressing the interior of the defensive line by trying to draw a big name who might be hitting the last few seasons of quality play. GM Andrew Berry spent one year with the Philadelphia Eagles where DT Fletcher Cox has been a mainstay for a decade. Cox is not the player he used to be but would be a vital addition to help change the defense.

Cox’s history with new DC Jim Schwartz, and an extra million or so, hopefully, will be enough to bring him over.

There are, obviously, other moves that will be made in free agency but we wanted these two big moves in place for this mock draft.

With Bates and Cox in place, we used Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft Simulator to continue to build the rest of the roster:

Round 2

WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennesee – The speedster is not just from Jimmy Haslam’s favorite school but is worthy of a selection here or perhaps late in the first round. With Cox and Bates in place, adding a dynamic playmaker is more realistic with the team’s first pick.

Round 3

DT Mazi Smith, Michigan – Smith’s draft value is one that could be all over the place this year but, in this simulator, he’s available in the third round. Joining Cox and Perrion Winfrey could be the start of a quality interior that was missing in 2022.

Round 4 (Would not be surprised if Berry used his extra picks in the 4th or 5th to trade for veterans)

TE Luke Musgrave, Oregon State – An interesting athlete that is a vertical threat in the middle of the defense and a willing blocker. His athletic testing could push him up a round or more.

DE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State – A smaller, faster edge rusher, McDonald can assume the Takk McKinley-style role with Alex Wright stepping into Jadeveon Clowney’s spot across from Myles Garrett.

Round 5

RB Chase Brown, Illinois – With Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson likely leaving the team, adding another young back here makes sense. Brown has speed and fits the zone scheme well.

DT Colby Wooden, Auburn – How much is the interior of the defense a problem? We add the third new defensive tackle here with Wooden who is more of an anchoring defender but who has the size (6’5”) and strength to cause issues for offenses on passing downs as well.

Round 6

S Jalen Green, Mississippi State – With JJ3 and, likely, Ronnie Harrison gone, adding Green gives the team some flexibility in the safety room this late in the draft.

LB Anfernee Orji, Vanderbilt – The linebacker group will be an interesting one this year so adding one here that has athletic traits to help on special teams and develop on defense makes sense. Orji is that.

Did we upgrade the team quickly? Replacing JJ3 with Bates and adding Cox to the defensive line is a good start. The mock draft adds players and playmakers on both sides of the ball in areas that could be very helpful immediately as well as down the road.

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