The Browns’ coaches and scouts were out at the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week in Mobile, Alabama to get an up-close look at some prospects for the upcoming NFL draft slated in April. The 2022 version of the Cleveland Browns is in need of some help with an infusion of young players.
After an entire week of perusing these athletes and seeing what they can do, we here at DBN present our All-Senior Bowl Team for the Browns’ brass to consider come draft day.
Round 1 – Pick #13
OT Trevor Penning (6’-7”, 330 pounds) – Northern Iowa
The tackle position will have to be addressed sooner than later. Both Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills have constant injury issues and will miss multiple games. Conklin might be a liability with the frequency of injures while Wills is a roller coaster on the field and might be better suited for his natural position of right tackle. Drafting a young guy will benefit riding the pine a season, or can come in and be a full-time starter when either starter goes down. Blake Hance and James Hudson just aren’t the answer.
Penning is a mountain of a man and dominated the week of Senior Bowl practices on rosters that were full of exceptional defensive linemen. Great knee bend and runs almost a five second 40. He is a power lifter with a squat of 625 pounds and power cleans 385. He has a ton of stored potential energy within his giant frame and is high-level talent.
The Browns offensive line would improve immediately, and would be great insurance for if – or when – Conklin and/or Wills goes down yet again. Every time the Browns offense began to sputter this past season is when either of these two starters went down and their replacements failed. 2021 First Team All-Mountain Valley Conference.
Round 2 – Pick #44
EDGE Boye Mafe (6’-4”, 255 pounds) - Minnesota
Are the Browns re-signing Jadeveon Clowney? If so, will he cost more? Mafe is the answer to the bookend position opposite Myles Garrett for years to come at a fraction of the cost of keeping Clowney. Mafe is a high-impact player and is one of the best pass rushers in this draft.
He is deceptively fast in that he was clocked at 4.57 in the 40. Explosive would be a good narrative to his play. Mafe has great lateral movement and core strength. As good as he is rushing the QB, he is also a very good run defender that is able to fight through blocks and anchor with force. Will pursue ball carriers. Best at 5-technique and would anchor that other side of the defensive line for years.
Dominated in the practice sessions at the Senior Bowl and in the actual game, had two sacks plus forced a fumble on QB Sam Howell. 2021 Second Team All-Big 10.
Round 3 – Pick #78
S Jalen Pitre (6’-0”, 197 pounds) – Baylor
If you could pick a single player from the Senior Bowl week of who bettered their draft status, Pitre would be that person. Coming in as an invitee, he was projected fifth to sixth-round and is now a solid third rounder.
All week he was glue on receivers in passing drills in man coverage. Appears undersized when working the box but he plays larger than his frame and is fearless. Willing to square up with larger blockers or taller receivers and is a violent player in close quarters. Occasionally over-pursues and misses tackles, sometimes getting fooled by option plays with his aggressiveness. Able to recover and adapt as the play progresses. His instincts are his vital portion of his play. Run defense is exceptional and is better at man/press than zone. 2021 Consensus First Team All-American so you know he can play. Also the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (2021) and a two time All-Big 12 first teamer.
Round 3 – Pick (compensatory TBD)
QB Bailey Zappe (6’-1”, 213 pounds) - Western Kentucky
The thinking here is that the Browns will move on from backup Casey Keenum and his $6 million a year salary and bring in a young guy with a lesser contract. Cleveland needs to be thinking in the direction about a younger signalcaller that can be developed immediately as the backup but will also challenge Mayfield for first team reps in practice and possibly game snaps.
Cleveland was awarded two third-round compensatory picks, one this year while the other in 2023 because the Minnesota Vikings signed away analytics expert Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to be their next GM. A lot of very good quarterbacks have been taken in Rounds 2-4 including Russell Wilson, Joe Montana, Matt Schaub, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, David Garrard and Andy Dalton.
Zappe has impressive mental composure in the pocket and is extremely intelligent. He can read the entire field, and his accuracy is a testament to his ability to read coverages and find spaces in them. He is also able to sense pressure and has great footwork. Has speed in that his 40 time is 4.7. Can make deep throws but will flourish in the short to intermediate game. Not the most accurate when scrambling from the pocket. Threw for 5,967 yards his senior season with 62 touchdowns and just 11 picks. Was voted Conference USA Most Valuable Player in 2021.
Round 4 – Pick #104
LB Troy Andersen (6’-4”, 235 pounds) – Montana State
Very good tackler with speed. Large frame that can pack a punch. Good run defender who is an exceptional athlete. Really shined during Senior Bowl week and was surprisingly good in coverage especially on tight ends. Outstanding blitzer. Will probably be more of the SAM linebacker, but can line up in any spot. Has good play recognition who is all out on every snap. Can get flat-footed at times on change of direction and doesn’t have good twitch in short areas. Andersen is a physical player, though. 2021 First Team All-American, Three Time First Team All-Big Sky (2018, 2019, 2021) and 2021 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year.
Round 4 – Pick #115
DT Neil Farrell, Jr. (6’-4”, 325 pounds) - LSU
Excellent run defender who understands leverage. Has strong hands and is a hustler. Good bull rush despite average bulk. Able to use good footwork to fill holes inside and recovers well. Needs to shed blocks better and may be limited to one-gap systems. Dominant space-eater who can control his blocker and take sight of the runner. Very athletic.
Round 5 – Pick #154
WR Christian Watson (6’-5”, 208 pounds) – North Dakota State
Deceptive speed in that he runs a 4.4 in the 40 despite his height. Superb acceleration and can be a deep ball threat as well as Red Zone. Versatile and a very good kick returner. Difficult to bring down and fights for every yard. Excellent route runner with size. Will need some development especially in contested throws and fighting for the ball. Needs to remain focused on the catch throughout the entire process and limit drops. Has strong hands and good abilities for acceleration on cuts. Three Time FCS National Champion, Two Time First Team All-Mountain Valley Conference (2020, 2021), Second Team All-MVC (2019).
Round 6 – Pick #193
DT Otito Ogbonnia (6’-4”, 326 pounds) - UCLA
Very smooth lateral movement and an excellent run defender. Primarily a linear athlete with extremely strong lower body. Power lifter who has squatted 685 pounds. Solid base enables Ogbonnia difficult to move from his gaps with great anchor strength. Above average explosiveness and would need to be in some sort of rotation especially late in the a game. Immense power when bull rushing and difficult to slow down when his legs are churning. Decent on pursuit but won’t run anybody down. Needs better leverage.
Round 7 – Pick #221
S Yusuf Corker (6’-0”, 197 pounds) - Kentucky
Very durable having played in 50 college games including the final 37 straight. Will need some development as a box defender. Reliable back defender who is an exceptional tackler. Best support is run defense who has limited range in the passing game. Not a ballhawk. Is a finisher and not afraid to lay the boom on running plays. Not a lot of dynamic body control and would project as a special teams player and in nickel situations at first.
Which of the players highlighted is your favorite and would certainly draft?
This poll is closed
OT Trevor Penning – Northern Iowa
EDGE Boye Mafe - Minnesota
S Jalen Pitre – Baylor
QB Bailey Zappe - Western Kentucky
LB Troy Andersen – Montana State
DT Neil Farrell, Jr. - LSU
WR Christian Watson – North Dakota State
DT Otito Ogbonnia - UCLA
S Yusuf Corker - Kentucky