The draft is tomorrow, Browns fans!
I’m back again today to dig into the prospects in the 2021 draft. In case you missed the first big board, I am ranking the prospects according to how I would draft them onto our current Browns team. There are some notable prospects that I think are very good players who are not on this board, largely because of the positions they play (e.g Trevor Lawrence). There are other notable omissions here who I just don’t like as much as most others do.
With that said, let’s get to the prospects!
20. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
Yes, this is way lower than most people rank Pitts. I am not sure whether I disagree with most people’s evaluations of Pitts’ talents, but I almost certainly disagree with how much the national media values what he does.
Pitts to me is a fantastic receiver. He gets open against safeties, he gets open against linebackers, he gets open against corners. He can go deep up the sideline or down the seam, he can work the middle, and he flashes Odell Beckham Jr. type hands, often catching the ball way out away from his body or snatching it over a defender’s head. I don’t think anyone can question his talents as a receiver.
Like many of the prospects at the top of this draft, he is big and fast for his size, and he already does something (receive) at an NFL level. But much like many of the prospects at about 12-15 on this list and on down, Pitts has significant question marks as an individual. Pitts is a willing blocker, but he is not good in this area. He’s tall and long, but doesn’t display the technique to get under a defender’s pads and latch onto them. He also is not the thickest guy, and can’t just win his blocks with raw power.
The concept of a seam-stretching TE who is a matchup nightmare is intriguing, but I wonder if Pitts will ever be able to block well enough to make that concept a reality. I also am extra cautious when it comes to the collective being able to evaluate the TE position. Does anyone remember TJ Hockenson? Noah Fant? Hayden Hurst? Evan Engram? Have any of these guys become that top-tier type of NFL talent? Meanwhile, the best/most productive TEs in the NFL recently (George Kittle, Darren Waller, Travis Kelce) were all drafted in the 3rd round or later. To me there is enough here to suggest that maybe we don’t know what we are doing when it comes to evaluating TEs.
The icing on the cake here is that we already have too many TEs on the roster. We’re fine with our 2-3 guys and would probably be better off adding talent at another position.
19. Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
Speaking of freak athletes who would need to improve in the NFL...
Oweh is basically the guy you build when you create a DE/OLB prospect in a video game. He’s got length, speed, twitch, and some power, which is everything you’d want athletically. He reportedly ran a 4.36 at his pro day, which I straight-up do not believe. But even if he is within .2s of that, it would be an impressive time. I don’t know how he’d get a boost in the jumps, and a 39.5” vertical and 11’2” broad jump for a DE prospect is pretty nuts.
With that said, Oweh is not the sack artist that his measurables might suggest. What I see on tape is a player who does not consistently have the most violent jump off the ball, and one who rushes “without a plan” too often. His technique is raw and he will need to seriously improve it in the NFL to touch his potential. Especially against the best OTs he played, he didn’t win enough reps.
With that said, Oweh does have one NFL-ready skill at this point, and it is one I value because we have to play Lamar Jackson twice a year: he can absolutely crush the QB option game. Often Penn State’s opponents would shift to the “if you can’t block him, read him” mindset, and make Oweh the read target for option plays. And often, Oweh would be quick and long enough to play both the RB and the QB on the same play. The fact that Oweh seems ready to do this right now means I’m willing to roll the dice on his upside.
18. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
The run of athletic freaks who don’t play up to their potential continues with Sewell. In my opinion, Sewell is by far the most gifted OL in this draft, and a player with his athletic profile does not come around every year. He’s huge, he’s nimble, and he plays hard.
However, even with his physical gifts Sewell will need to refine his technique in the NFL. He can let inferior talents beat him when he allows his pad level to get high, stops his feet, or gets jebaited into a false step. I think Sewell has the body and the ability to play at tackle, but he might be better off starting at guard where he can focus more on his pad level and using his power at first.
17. Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
I just love the way this kid plays. It really seems like he loves the game, and Dickerson has awesome physical tools for a center, good awareness, and good technique. His handfighting is good, his blitz pickup is good, and he is a big powerful guy who uses his tools well.
Really the only concern I have with Dickerson is his injury history, which is why I don’t have him in the top 10.
16. Teven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State
Jenkins is big, and he’s nasty. Definitely a “play through the whistle” guy. I’m not sure if he plays tackle or guard, but I think he’s got a chance to do well at both spots. I think Jenkins’ ceiling might be more limited than some of his peers, but I think his floor is higher. That, along with our current OL not really needing a boost is why I don’t have him higher.
15. Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Moehrig is a swiss army knife at safety. I think he has very good physical traits, but not elite ones. I think with a little refinement he could be very good matching up with TEs, bigger slot WRs, and RBs in the passing game, but right now his strength appears to be playing a deep role. He will come up to hit and make plays in the run game, but he is going to be a guy who closes fast and not a bigger Kam Chancellor type of player.
The TCU system asks a lot of its safeties, where they have to not only make coverage calls and help get people lined up, but then they have to pattern match as the play develops, and cover whichever target comes their way. This could mean matching up with an outside receiver one play, a slot the next, then a TE or a back the next. TCU’s safeties both are responsible for playing the run as well. Imagining that kind of guy on Joe Woods’ defense is exciting. My question for Moehrig is “can he do all of those things at an elite level?” I’m not sure.
The tough part about drafting a safety this high is that we already seem to have 3 guys there and a 4th guy at slot corner. I’m trying to downplay the importance of need, but I’m not sure if adding another DB makes sense in the first round.
14. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Yes, he’s small. Yes, this is way higher than most people rank him. But Moore made the Big Ten (including my beloved Buckeyes) look like a bunch of highschool defenses on tape. Seriously, when you watch the best skill players’ recruiting tapes you see them running one way and then circling back 50 yards across the field and just literally running around everyone on the field, and you think “well he’s fast but he won’t be able to get away with that in college.” Well, Rondale got away with it in college.
I don’t think Rondale will be able to run around entire NFL defenses, but I do think that he is going to be scary as hell to cover. And unlike many of the speed-only smaller guys who have been busts recently, I think Moore’s strength is underrated.
13. Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Elijah Moore is like Rondale in that he is a smaller, faster WR. He’s a little bigger than Rondale, and while he doesn’t appear to have quite the same speed, he’s got plenty to burn. What impresses me about Elijah Moore’s game is the route running savvy and feel for the defense that he possesses. It appears that he had to sight-adjust routes at Ole Miss, and did a good job of knowing not only how to beat his defender, but also how to play vs. the coverage he saw.
Moore isn’t going to make a living Mossing people, but he can win contested catches and there is some physicality to his game to go along with all that speed and burst. You have to love the way he competes on his routes and for the ball when it is in the air.
12. Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
Phillips would be higher on this list if it weren’t for his injury history. I’d rank him below other DE prospects like Azeez Ojulari or Jayson Oweh in terms of his playing speed, but he more than makes up for that difference by being a more skilled player. Phillips knows how to use his long frame and above average burst and power to defeat blocks, against the run and the pass.
11. Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
Newsome reminds me of a slightly bigger, slightly slower Denzel Ward. I think he is going to be at his best in man to man coverage, where he can use his speed to stick to receivers and catch up to them when they do gain separation. But Newsome also played a lot of Cover 3 and a fair amount of quarters, and he has a great closing burst from an off position as well.
Newsome didn’t quite have a “Yall got BBQ back there and you didn’t invite me?!” moment like Denzel, but he will pick his spots to come forward and make a big hit against the run as well. The only thing I can say about him is that I wish he turned a few more PBUs into INTs, but any corner with this athleticism who also plays at a high level would be a welcome addition to the Browns.
That’s it for the 11-20 spots, check back tomorrow for the last of the top 32. Here is my cumulative list so far:
1. Christian Barmore
2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
3. Micah Parsons
4. Patrick Surtain II
5. Ja’Marr Chase
6. Kwitty Paye
7. Jaycee Horn
8. Devonta Smith
9. Rashawn Slater
10. Azeez Ojulari
11. Greg Newsome III
12. Jaelan Phillips
13. Elijah Moore
14. Rondale Moore
15. Trevon Moehrig
16. Teven Jenkins
17. Landon Dickerson
18. Penei Sewell
19. Jayson Oweh
20. Kyle Pitts