The Cleveland Browns season is all but over in 2022. At 3-7, the team has a chance to end the year 10-7 but a lot would have to change in order for that to be the end result. Even if Cleveland gets to 10 wins, there are currently three teams with 6-4 record fighting for the last couple of playoff spots.
A lot would have to break in the right direction for the Browns to make the playoffs, their ultimate goal. With a lot of talent on offense and QB Deshaun Watson returning soon, the focus will turn to the defense where there is some talent but very little playing up to potential.
At this point in the season, a ton of unknowns going into 2023. A ton of players could be gone from the team, there could be some changes on the coaching staff and where Cleveland will be selecting is widely variable still.
For now, this is our first 2023 Browns seven-round NFL Mock Draft. GM Andrew Berry will need to find impact players lower in the draft without a first-round pick and only one in the third round due to the Watson trade.
Browns Mock Draft
S JL Skinner, Boise State - Skinner is a huge safety prospect at 6’4” with acceleration, speed and hitting ability. The future with John Johnson III is up in the air while Grant Delpit has disappointed as well. Skinner would come in and give the team a starting level safety immediately.
#BoiseState S JL Skinner kicked off the 2022 season with 12 tackles and an INT.— Steve Frederick (@SteveFrederick_) September 6, 2022
At 6'4", 220lbs, Skinner is the next big, long-limbed, safety prospect that will get everyone's imagination running wild. pic.twitter.com/Y2vQ5N1Jyi
DT Mazi Smith, Michigan - Big AND athletic, sign me up for Smith as a starting point for rebuilding the interior of the defensive line. Berry will also be looking for some help from a veteran but Smith can be the type of player to build around even if he isn’t the type of pass rusher coveted in the middle.
69. Mazi Smith - DT, Michigan— Landon Oliver (@Landon3MR) November 11, 2022
Can never stop building in the trenches and this guy is a certified FREAK athlete. Doubt he’s here after the combine. But for now he is.
With DeFo status going forward up in the air I think this guy could be special.
LB Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati - Not the biggest player at the position but Pace plays like a football player should at the linebacker position. With Anthony Walker Jr. coming back from injury and question marks up the middle, Pace could step in as the team’s middle linebacker.
Nice explosiveness from Ivan Pace Jr. to shoot the gap and make the tackle pic.twitter.com/7yytBma2zo— SC Draft Analysis (@sc_draft) September 7, 2022
It is not a coincidence that the first three picks are right up the middle of the defense. Thankfully, there were players available at positions of need that fit relative value.
OT Blake Freeland, BYU - Veteran Jack Conklin is set to hit free agency with James Hudson III likely stepping into his role. Adding the huge Freeland as a player that can develop for a year or two before decisions need to be made on Jedrick Wills and Hudson will be valuable as well as an important depth piece.
S Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State - While the interior of the defensive line gets most of the attention, the play at safety has been bad as well. Adding Hickman and Skinner would give Cleveland’s defense a lift in terms of athletic ability while pushing Delpit to have to hold on to his job.
C Alex Forsyth, Oregon - The Browns lost Nick Harris to a season-ending injury and just saw Ethan Pocic go out injured in Week 11. There is no certainty either will be back competing for the starting position in 2023 so adding another option late in the draft is helpful.
RB Tavion Thomas, Utah - As of now, Nick Chubb and Jerome Ford will be Cleveland’s lead backs next year with Demetric Felton third string. Adding another back who can make plays, keep Chubb fresh and keep the offense moving if injuries occur is important even if it is a swing here in the sixth round.
WR Rakim Jarrett, Maryland - While the offense will rely on the run game and Watson to make it go, adding more talent at the receiver position will always be helpful. Jarrett can help take the top off the defense with his speed while Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku do most of the heavy lifting.
Revamped the middle of the defense (while assuming some veteran additions as well) while securing the offensive line for the future and adding a couple of late-round weapons as well. No draft is perfect but this one would help fill some immediate needs at the top while building depth the rest of the way through.