The Cleveland Browns are 2-5 with a big Monday Night Football matchup versus the Cincinnati Bengals on the horizon. Unfortunately, unlike years where the team has been bad, Browns fans don’t have the excitement of a high first-round pick to look forward to.
Instead, the return of QB Deshaun Watson from suspension and a hope of turning the 2022 season around is what the fans have left.
That doesn’t mean the subsequent few NFL drafts won’t be important. Teams are not just made up of first-round selections and Cleveland has eight picks, each, in the successive two drafts.
With that in mind, we will continue to look ahead to some college football matchups and some of the players that could intrigue the Browns.
Today, we focus on a huge game nationally in the Big 10. The Ohio State Buckeyes face off with the Penn State Nittany Lions. There are other prospects on the team, some of which are expected to go way before Cleveland has a selection.
Here are a few that could be in range (even if the first one would require a trade up):
Ohio State Prospects
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Outside of QB CJ Stroud, Smith-Njibga was the biggest name coming into the season for the Buckeyes. An injury has really limited him this season and allowed Marvin Harrison Jr. to take over the top role.
For the NFL draft, Smith-Njigba may not test as well as many would think which could lead him to slip in the first round some. Could GM Andrew Berry be aggressive in going up for a great route runner with great hands and after-the-catch skills?
DE Zach Harrison
A tempting prospect, Harrison hasn’t figured out how to put it all together despite his frame and skill. For Cleveland, the 6’6”, 272-pound defensive end fits the strongside mold that they want across from Myles Garrett. The team added a similar prospect in Alex Wright in 2022 and could double dip with another middle-round pick with a player who can do this:
Zach Harrison with that double TFL. pic.twitter.com/tESIgkRifr— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 1, 2020
S Lathan Ransom
Cleveland may have a lot of turnover at the safety position next year. Ransom has the perfect name and build for the position. Only a junior, he may return to college next year to build his stock but, if he comes out, could put these deep ball skills to use:
Lathan Ransom : 3 tackles & an INT pic.twitter.com/xxvT9aw8Me— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) October 9, 2022
Penn State Prospects
WR Parker Washington
A running back in a receiver’s body, Washington could be a version of Jarvis Landry at the next level. Last year, Washington had over 800 yards receiving with first-round selection Jahan Dotson getting the majority of the targets. Washington also had four touchdowns.
This year, Washington is sharing targets but still producing a 12.9 yards per reception average on 30 receptions. The traits seen in this touchdown are something Cleveland fans would love:
This is how you make your first TD catch of the season— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 23, 2022
Parker Washington, take a bow.
DT PJ Mustipher
Being blunt for a moment, the Browns need to find some large defensive tackles that don’t get blown off the ball in the run game and can do a little bit to push the pocket. Any and all draftable defensive tackles should be scouted by the team this year.
Here you see Mustipher against two Buckeyes since drafted into the NFL and his ability to hold his own in the run game:
PennSt DT PJ Mustipher faces 2 '21 picks here in Myers/Davis, holds his ground, welcomes Sermon into his arms - no easy feat. Won't be known as a pass rusher in the NFL but QBs holding onto the ball too long will feel his presence. Chases WR screens if freed up. #SnapScout22 pic.twitter.com/YuFrQEkgvf— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) May 28, 2021
TE Brenton Strange
While David Njoku has had a breakout season (prior to going down with his ankle injury), Harrison Bryant has done his best Austin Hooper impression this year. Getting another athletic tight end would be helpful for Cleveland’s offense moving forward.
The 6’3” Strange is a big, strong player with athletic gifts. He already is having his best-receiving yardage season with 245 yards. He also already has four touchdowns this year. If things continue, Strange may end up as a first-round pick given the value of the position.
Here we see the strength and speed combination:
PENN STATE TE BRENTON STRANGE WITH A BUZZER BEATER TD ⏰pic.twitter.com/9bwGzyoxgc— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 2, 2022
A lot of fun NFL draft prospects in today’s matchup, these are just six that we will be keeping our eyes on today.
Who is your favorite, realistic, prospect for the Browns in today’s OSU/PSU matchup?