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2023 NFL Draft: Prospects to watch in USC vs UCLA

A look at NFL draft prospects the Browns may be evaluating in Saturday’s USC vs UCLA game.

NCAA Football: California at Southern California Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills are headed to Detroit this Sunday with both teams hoping to right the ship. The Browns draft position keeps “improving” each and every week, and this week will likely be no exception. There’s plenty of work that will need to be done by GM Andrew Berry in the offseason.

One of the top college football matchups this weekend will be between the 7th-ranked USC Trojans and the 16th-ranked UCLA Bruins. The game will go down at 8 PM (eastern) Saturday night. If you are tuning into this primetime contest, keep an eye out for the following players that could be of interest to the Cleveland Browns in the 2023 NFL Draft.

USC Trojans DL Tuli Tuipulotu

The Cleveland Browns have serious issues on the interior defensive line. Tuipulotu was a 1st-team All-Pac-12 in player 2021 after leading his team with 5.5 sacks. In 2022, he leads the entire NCAA with 11.5 sacks so far this season. He’s relatively “pro-ready” and could be a second-day pick for the Browns. Tuli has an NFL pedigree as well. His brother plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.

USC Trojans CB Mekhi Blackmon

Mekhi Blackmon spent 2018-2021 in Colorado before arriving at USC in 2022. Blackmon will most likely be a 3rd day NFL Draft selection or go undrafted but he has potential. Through 10 games this season he has 41 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and a fumble recovery. The Browns front office loves cornerback depth and could take a flyer on Mekhi in 2023.

UCLA Bruins DE Laiatu Latu

It’s unknown if Jadeveon Clowney will leave Cleveland in free agency. While he wouldn’t step into Clowney’s shoes as a starter, Laiatu could potential serve as much-needed rotational depth at the position.

Latu is a versatile edge that could play OLB in 3-4 or DE in a 4-3. He does come with injury concerns after retiring from football following his freshman year due to a neck injury. Somehow he has been able to return and he is certainly producing.

Laiatu Latu has 8 sacks through 10 games and 9.5 tackles for loss. Additionally, he has forced 3 fumbles. Depending on where he falls on draft day, he could certainly be a high-risk, high-reward type selection or signing by the Browns.