The NFL offseason ramps up next week with the start of free agency and the opening of the league year.
Free agency begins at noon on Monday as teams are permitted to talk with certified agents of any player who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. On Wednesday at 4 p.m., the new league year begins and teams can officially sign players.
As it always has, what Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry does in free agency will influence what he does in the NFL Draft at the end of April in Las Vegas. Fix the issues at defensive tackle in the next few weeks and wide receiver takes center stage at the draft, and vice versa.
With that in mind, let’s take a run through the various mock drafts to see just who the Browns might select in the first round with the No. 13 overall selection. The consensus lines up with selecting a wide receiver, although there are a few who are warming up to the idea of addressing the defensive line.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State: The Browns would be elated if no wide receiver is drafted in the top 12 picks, giving them the chance to pick their top-ranked player at arguably their largest position of need. Wilson, who clocked a 4.3 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, has only average size, but his ability to create space before and after the catch is what separates him in this class.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State: Wilson is a silky-smooth route runner who has great hands, and his blazing fast 4.38 40-yard dash may have vaulted him into the No. 1 wide receiver conversation in this class.
With the Browns moving on from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. during the 2021 season and perhaps parting ways with slot receiver Jarvis Landry before the 2022 season begins, Wilson slots in as the immediate No. 1 option in the passing game.
The native Ohioan earned back-to-back 80.0-plus grades and averaged 15.76 yards per reception in 2020-21. He is a big play waiting to happen every time he stepped onto the field who stays in the birthplace of football for his next chapter.
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas: A defensive lineman almost makes more sense here, but Burks is such an attractive big-bodied option out wide, and the Browns really need weapons to make a definitive decision on QB Baker Mayfield’s future.
George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue: DT Jordan Davis could be the surprise pick here, but an analytics-driven team like the Browns would likely covet three downs of production at a premium position like defensive end with a selection this early.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State: After laying down a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine, the 6-foot, 183-pounder bolstered the argument he might be the top pass-catching prospect in a very deep class of them. Wilson, who’s effective both outside and from the slot, is especially dangerous after the catch and scored 13 TDs last season (one as a rusher). Cleveland’s 27th-ranked passing attack needs at least one receiver – probably two – and Wilson would be a nice start (or finish, depending on free agency). Fun fact: Wilson and Browns QB Baker Mayfield are alums of Austin, Texas’ Lake Travis High School.
Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia: Another in a long line of Georgia defenders who impressed in Indy, Wyatt locates the football super fast and then has 4.77 speed to close on it. That 40-yard dash time led all defensive tackles at the combine, and he was in the top five at the position in both the vertical (29 inches) and broad jump (9-foot-3). Malik Jackson is a free agent, leaving a hole in the middle of Cleveland’s defensive front, and Wyatt — one of the biggest risers in the class — could slide in next to Myles Garrett to help get after the quarterback and stuff the run at the line of scrimmage.
And yes, receiver is a position to watch for Cleveland, but it might be slightly early for Ohio State’s Chris Olave or Arkansas’ Treylon Burks.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State: The Browns can go in a few directions. They need edge help with Jadeveon Clowney likely walking, and the defensive tackle spot is lacking. Either way, wide receiver is by far their biggest need, and they have their pick of the litter.
Garrett Wilson instantly slots in as a starting slot or Z option with the potential to take over as an X. Jarvis Landry may be on his way out, so nabbing a reliable WR for Baker Mayfield to throw to is vital.
Drake London WR, USC: The Cleveland Browns are going to be major players in the wide receiver market. They must be since their lack of talent at the position is staggering, particularly if Jarvis Landry is released.
To be fair, the Browns may not be forced to select a wide receiver with the 13th selection. General manager Andrew Berry could make another splash in free agency by attacking the roster’s biggest need, as he did during the previous two offseasons.
London is only 20 years old. He may not be the class’ most polished prospect, but a strong argument exists that he’s the best wide receiver.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State: Wilson, who went to the same high school as Baker Mayfield, can be a big-needed No. 1 wideout boost to the struggling QB with his smarts, quickness, route-running and hands. He’s a little more complete than former teammate Chris Olave, which gives a little more appeal for the Columbus to Cleveland jump.
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
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Drake London, WR, USC
Someone else (say who in the comments)