The most obvious of those is kicker Cade York, who was basically handed the job when the Browns released kickers Chase McLaughlin and Chris Blewitt just two days after the draft ended.
The other player is defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey, who quickly became a fan favorite for the enthusiasm he displayed during his first post-draft interview.
Winfrey is gaining attention for more than his personality, however, as he was tapped by NFL.com’s Chad Reuter as the top Day 3 draft pick who could see significant playing time as a rookie:
Winfrey fell into a perfect spot, as Cleveland desperately needed a 3-technique to challenge opposing interior offensive linemen off the snap, thanks to the exits of Malik McDowell (whom the Browns did not tender as an exclusive rights free agent following his January arrest) and Malik Jackson (who was on a one-year deal) last season. It won’t be surprising if Winfrey produces more than former Browns draft find Larry Ogunjobi (who spent 2021 in Cincinnati) did as a third-round rookie (one sack, one start in 14 appearances in 2017).
It might be a bit damning with faint praise to promote Winfrey’s ability to grab starter’s minutes as a rookie given that the current defensive tackle group is not exactly robust with Taven Bryan, Tommy Togiai, Jordan Elliott and Sheldon Day all currently in the rotation.
But there is still much to like about Winfrey’s game.
The 6-foot-4 and 290-pound Winfrey played two years at Oklahoma and finished last season with five-and-a-half sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He then added MVP honors at the Senior Bowl.
Prior to the draft, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had Winfrey as his 4th-ranked defensive tackle and projected him as a second-round pick, writing that:
A two-year starter at Oklahoma, Winfrey lined up at nose guard in former defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s 3-3-5 base scheme. It was tough to get an accurate read on him in the Sooners’ slanting front, however, his skills were unleashed at the Senior Bowl and allowed him to show scouts his flashes of dominance. Winfrey has an imposing frame and length that no blocker wants to deal with, playing with the shock in his hands to jar blockers or toss bodies from his path. His tendency to play tall and inability to break down and be flexible leads to missed plays in the backfield. Overall, Winfrey needs to improve his pad level and play discipline, but his size, energy and the power in his hands help him to terrorize blockers. He has NFL starting-level traits.
Winfrey has picked up a considerable amount of hype in just a few weeks with the Browns and will definitely be a player to watch this summer to see if he can turn that hype into actual production.