American Football

ESPN NFL Mock Draft: Browns snatch up vital defensive tackle in 2nd round


NFL: Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The addition would make new DC Jim Schwartz very happy

As we noted, the coverage of the NFL’s offseason is mainly backward but there is little that can be done to change that. For those of us who love the NFL draft, we wouldn’t want to either. In coverage, the NFL draft gets a majority early and often but, in reality, free agency actually kicks off the offseason.

Unfortunately, trying to guess where free agents will sign is both difficult and lacks interest as there is less predictability, order and certainty to the process. For example, the Chicago Bears could spend like crazy, as the Jacksonville Jaguars did last year, or reign it in for one more year.

Due to that, a majority of offseason coverage is looking at the NFL draft despite the fact that free agent decisions could drastically alter teams’ plans. The Cleveland Browns seem to have a huge hole in the middle of their defensive line, perhaps a need at safety and linebacker and could use another fast receiver. GM Andrew Berry has some work to do.

In today’s NFL Mock Draft on ESPN (subscriber, $), Matt Miller is kind enough to complete two full rounds which allows the Browns to get a selection. Miller does what many think Berry should do by addressing the defensive tackle position:

Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

The Browns’ first pick in the 2023 draft aims to shore up holes in the defense. Smith is one of the most impressive movers in the defensive tackle class and has NFL scouts talking about his rare short-area burst and power.

Smith would be an important addition to the team but, hopefully, Berry had also addressed the position in free agency or in a veteran trade.

As noted by Miller, it will be interesting how Smith’s pending misdemeanor charge and only having one sack last year will impact his stock.

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