The 2020 NFL season came to an end on Sunday with Super Bowl 55, so now the league’s general managers are turning their attention to the offseason.
There are a few events to get through first, but the coming weeks will bring a heightened focus on the NFL Draft, which will open on April 29.
After being one of the first teams to make a selection for years, the Cleveland Browns are currently not scheduled to pick in the first round until selection No. 26 - the lowest the franchise has been slated to select since 1995.
A year ago, general manager Andrew Berry focused much of his attention on fixing the offense. This year, the expectation is that Berry will turn his attention to a defense that struggled to get off the field in 2020.
With that in mind, let’s take an updated look at some of the various mock drafts and see just who the Browns might select in the first round.
Michael Renner at Pro Football Focus:
Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State: Oweh across from Myles Garrett would give the Browns one of the freakiest athletic tandems in NFL history. The zero in Oweh’s sacks column this past season obviously stands out, but he took a massive leap forward in grading, going from 74.6 in 2019 to 85.3 in 2020.
Todd McShay at ESPN (paywall):
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa: I mocked Collins to the Browns a month ago as well, and nothing has changed for a team certainly ready to contend for a Super Bowl. Myles Garrett can’t be the only effective pass-rusher on this roster, and after hovering in the middle of the league in sacks for the past few years (34, 37, 38 and 39 sacks in the past four seasons), Cleveland needs to make the jump with its edge rush to truly challenge in the AFC. Collins — who would be Tulsa’s second first-rounder in the common draft era — has versatility and burst.
Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama: The Browns need help in the secondary, but adding a talented interior rusher with the ability to play the run is a worthwhile choice.
Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News:
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa: The Browns have Myles Garrett anchoring their defensive line and Denzel Ward leading their secondary. They could use some complementary pieces there, but they also were short on playmaking on the second level. Collins explodes as an athlete and can make a lot of plays with his agility, quickness and range. Joe Woods would love his skill set.
Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa: Nixon is an explosive interior defensive lineman who has a knack for finding his way into the backfield and being disruptive vs. both the pass and the run.
Kyle Crabbs at The Draft Network:
Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami: The Browns were one of the best stories in all of football last season, breaking through with 11 wins and a playoff victory. The long-suffering franchise appears well poised to make the leap to annual contender, but they’ll need some more pieces to get there. Another pass rusher opposite Myles Garrett? That’s one heck of a start, and Jaelan Phillips might be the most physically gifted and diverse pass rusher in the class. That’s one heck of a super duo to heat up opposing passers.
While the Browns clearly need help on the defense, it still feels a bit unlikely that they will use their first-round selection on a linebacker given that the position does not appear to be a high priority to the team. It is good to see that some mocks are trending toward help along the defensive line, which after the secondary seems the most likely position group the Browns will focus on in the draft.
What do you think, Browns fans? Does one of the players mocked to the Browns get you going? Or do you have your eye on someone else?
Let us know in the following poll and have your say in the comments.
Who should the Browns select in the first round?
This poll is closed
Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama
Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa
Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
Other (say who in the comments)