The Browns need considerable help at wide receiver and defensive tackle; quality depth along the offensive line; and need to address the kicking issue, most notably at placekicker.
The good news is this is a good year to need a wide receiver as there are several in the mix to be selected in the first round, including Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, USC’s Drake London and Alabama’s Jameson Williams.
The Browns currently hold the No. 13 overall selection, so while they will not have their pick of wide receivers, as long as general manager Andrew Berry does not do anything daft in the coming weeks, he should be in a position to select a quality wide receiver if he so desires.
With the NFL Scouting Combine on the horizon, several mock drafts expect the Browns to do the smart play and select a wide receiver — although there is not a consensus on just one of them — so let’s take a quick run through the various mocks to see just who the Browns might select.
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas: Burks is a big-bodied receiver (listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds) with excellent open-field agility that Baker Mayfield will lean on as the former Razorbacks star acclimates to the pro game.
Drake London, WR, USC: I swear I played multiple seasons of the NCAA Football video game (many years ago) with at least three players named Drake London. Did they also have 19 contested catches in only eight games (per PFF)? Were they about 6-5? Did they place in the top 85th percentile in yards after the catch per reception (from both the wide and slot pre-snap alignments, per computer vision)? I can’t remember, but I really hope they did. In my mock, the Browns snag this video game-like WR, who could be my top-rated player at the position when the final mock falls.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State: The Browns cut Odell Beckham Jr. midseason, Rashard Higgins will be a free agent next month and Jarvis Landry may be a salary-cap casualty. If Landry is released, it would save the Browns over $15 million toward the cap. This year’s draft class may lack an elite top-five talent like Ja’Marr Chase, but it’s still one of the stronger position groups in the draft, and the Browns could have their choice at a position of need. My top-ranked receiver in this class, Wilson has outstanding body control and run-after-catch ability.
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State: Whomever starts under center for the Cleveland Browns next season will need help. The Browns currently sport one of the NFL’s worst receiving corps. The Browns’ desperate need for receiver talent gets answered here by the most polished and pro-ready receiver in the draft. Ohio State’s Chris Olave already has an advanced route tree along with the athleticism and hands to create big plays on routes at all three levels.
Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz could develop into excellent targets down the road, but they aren’t right now. Drafting a prospect like Olave, who should be an immediate contributor, is the logical path forward to help a suspect quarterback situation.
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama: The Browns don’t just need a receiver, they need a receiver with speed. They wanted Anthony Schwartz to be that, but he’s still exceedingly raw as a true receiver. Williams looked a lot more polished after transferring from Ohio State to Alabama, where he went for 1,561 yards and 15 scores.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State: Whether or not Baker Mayfield is still the Browns’ plan at quarterback, the offense is begging for some pass-catchers. Donovan Peoples-Jones led the team with just 597 receiving yards in 2021. Jarvis Landry is turning 30 next season and has one year left on his deal. Tight end David Njoku and receiver Rashard Higgins are free agents. But Wilson would immediately give Mayfield a playmaker. His best trait is body control, as he can adjust to passes in the air, but he is also a sudden route runner with fantastic speed and acceleration.
Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State: There’s a debate about whether the Browns’ analytics-driven front office should consider taking a receiver here and doing what it takes to give Baker Mayfield every chance to succeed. But there’s also a need for more pass-rush help alongside Myles Garrett. Johnson was the best player we saw at the Senior Bowl and could give the Browns’ front some more bite.
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas: Unless the Browns spend big on one of the premier free agent wide receivers, this pick should be a dynamic pass-catcher for Baker Mayfield. Get the ball in Burks’ hands and he’ll do the rest, which will force defenses to focus less on Cleveland’s highly efficient rushing offense.
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama: Williams is coming off a torn ACL but he has still seen his stock stay up because of his hands, route-running and his best asset, flat-out field-stretching speed as a future NFL No. 1. The Browns need that kind of player, regardless of who’s starting for them at quarterback to push them forward from the Odell Beckham Jr. mess.
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State: The Cleveland Browns certainly will have had time to do their due diligence on this receiver class as they hope to build around Baker Mayfield. Right in their backyard (almost) are two of those top options. With Wilson gone, Chris Olave gives the Browns an elite possession receiver with traits to bank on. Olave is the career leader in receiving touchdowns scored at Ohio State — he can have a similar impact in Cleveland.
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty: I understand that I’m taking a big risk here, especially because the Browns have said they fully expect Baker Mayfield to be their starter in 2022 and to rebound from his poor 2021 season. But Willis is an intriguing developmental prospect, and one worth taking a chance on if he’s still around.
He had a great Senior Bowl week, so chances are someone might snatch him up sooner. If he falls to 13, I’d jump out to turn in the card. He needs a year to develop, but with his cannon arm strength, dual-threat ability and uncanny knack for zipping it from different arm angles much like Patrick Mahomes, he caught my attention in a big way at the Senior Bowl.
He’s fast, agile, shifty and has good vision. He’s also aggressive and has the mindset for today’s high-flying, gunslinging passing game. Again, he needs a year of great coaching, but the Browns can provide that with Kevin Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt.
The 2022 NFL Draft will take place from April 28 to April 30 in Las Vegas.
Who should the Browns select in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft?
This poll is closed
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Drake London, WR, USC
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Someone else (say who in the comments)