The first round of the NFL draft is usually stressful, exciting and viewed with great anticipation. The drama is commonly what unfolds prior to the Browns’ pick. Seeing favorite players come off the board before Cleveland has a chance at him is emotionalism in motion.
But this year? The Browns had the 13th overall pick in Round 1. Now that is owned by the Houston Texans.
The NFL draft this year will begin with the first round on Thursday April 28 beginning at 8:00 p.m. Day 2 and rounds 2-3 will start at 7:00 p.m. Friday evening April 29 while Rounds 4-7 will occur on Saturday April 30 beginning at noon. All times are Eastern.
The draft will be televised on NFL Network, ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
As Browns fans, what do we do instead of watching the first round of the draft in primetime on April 28?
But don’t fret. The drama of the first round will unfold for Cleveland faithful in Round 2, their first pick in this year’s event. That much is a certainty.
Last year’s big event: Second round
The Browns own the 44th selection in the second round of this year’s draft - their own. Expect fireworks and dancing elephants with party hats for all while streamers explode overhead.
When you don’t own a first round selection, the first one pick you possess becomes the biggest excitement of the evening. Expect GM Andrew Berry to make a huge splash.
Rewind to last year’s draft. After taking CB Greg Newsome in the first round, Cleveland was set to take its second player at pick #59, the 26th spot in Round 2 (just like they had been slotted in the first round).
There were several names on the board when Round 2 began that were supposed to be called in the first round. Berry had a focus on helping the defense in this draft whereas his maiden draft the offense was his main focus.
Beginning with Day 2, first round talent still available was EDGE rusher Azeez Ojulari of Georgia, Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah plus DT Christian Barmore of Alabama. All three had been projected to be taken anywhere from the low teens to the mid-20s, so the value was there in the second round.
Six picks in, Barmore was selected by New England. The New York Football Giants were up at #50 and needed defense to which they nabbed Ojulari, a player Berry coveted. Washington was next and needed offensive linemen especially after their selection of LB Jamin Davis in Round 1. Sure enough, they grabbed OT Sam Cosmi of Texas. The Carolina Panthers were on the clock at 52.
Berry then made his first major draft trade as the Browns second-year GM. He sent Cleveland’s pick in the second round (#59) plus one of their third round choices (#89) to Carolina for ownership of the 52nd slot plus received a fourth round pick (#113) in the deal.
“And with the 52nd pick in the 2022 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, Notre Dame.”
Cleveland’s Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta said after the draft that the Browns didn’t think JOK would slide out of the first round and as far as he did. He ultimately became Berry’s eighth major addition to the defense during the off-season.
JOK wasn’t surprised that the Browns selected him. The versatile defender had virtual meetings with the club during the pre-draft process. In fact, he enjoyed DC Joe Woods’ catchphrase “no bark, all bite” during those Zoom encounters.
The rookie linebacker was considered a guy that could play in the box, on the edge and in the APEX as you would call the alley player as well as being hardworking on his resume.
JOK would make the Pro Football Focus and PFWA All-Rookie Teams along with Newsome.
This year’s big event: Duplicate second round success
Now that Berry has experienced the highs with trading up to nab a player that their big board had rated fairly high and was still available, he will at the ready to duplicate the event for even more prosperity.
Expect Berry to trade up again this year from the 44th slot. To grab who? We won’t know that until the draft board begins to take shape. Every year, players who are projected to go in the second round jump up a round and are taken. With 2021, Houston DE Payton Turner was a solid mid-second round guy. Instead, New Orleans nabbed him with their #28 slot in Round 1.
Several possibilities for Cleveland if they stand pat at 44 would be Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker, Mississippi EDGE rusher Sam Williams or DT Perrion Winfrey of Oklahoma.
And it’s not like Berry will have to wait long in the second round at #44 since it is just 12 picks into Day 2.
There are very good players predicted at the top of Round 2 such as LB Chad Muma of Wyoming who lit up the Senior Bowl, Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann as dependable backup, or Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum now that J.C. Tretter is no longer on the roster.
But Browns’ fans want somebody juicy. If the wait is a full day, make that a sexy pick.
The job for Berry is to make certain that the work is compiled and completed on every prospect who was listed on their front board. This will instantly aid on which impact player to target early in the second round.
How about WR Jahan Dotson of Penn State? This scenario has more quarterback prospects taken in the first round than expected plus this draft is a very deep receiver class. Some second round guys are beloved and will be coveted into the first round. If Dotson falls and is sitting there at perhaps slot number 36 currently occupied by the New York Football Giants who had two first round picks already, then perhaps this is a good place to jump up in the round and nab first round talent at second round money.
The three teams above the Giants, Jacksonville, Detroit and the New York Jets, are all good at the receiver position as are the Giants. But between pick #36 and the Browns #44, Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Chicago all are receiver-needy.
Dotson who bring to Cleveland a smaller, speedier weapon ready to play the slot. He showcases exceptional body control and the vertical agility to go up and snag the ball well above his frame.
A huge need on the defense is a young defensive end to pair with Myles Garrett. What a wonderful day it would be if EDGE Arnold Ebiketie of Penn State was to somehow drop of the low-20s and into Day 2. Perhaps Berry would swing a deal with Jacksonville and their Day 2 first overall pick.
Ebiketie is coming off a highly-productive season in a tough conference. He possesses the bend, explosion, length and power to be an impact player for the Browns right away.
While Berry will have a bevy of exceptional players to choose from at Cleveland’s own pick at Number 44, stay tuned for Berry’s next move up in Round 2 to snare one more critical piece of the Browns’ puzzle for 2022.
Besides, the party hats and streamers have already been ordered.