We are so close to the start of the 2023 NFL offseason that you can almost smell it. For me, the NFL combine is always the start of the offseason as almost everyone involved with the NFL descends on Indianapolis. While the public will see everything involving player interviews and on-field workouts, it is the off-the-field discussions that may be most interesting.
Sadly, we rarely know what all of those discussions sound like. While I may leave Indy with an inclination of what the Cleveland Browns might do, we don’t know until the league year starts and the NFL draft occurs.
For this week’s Browns mock draft, we wanted to get it out of the way before everything kicks off on Tuesday. Draft positioning, at least for the general public, will look completely different after this week.
For this mock draft, we used Pro Football Focus’ simulator to help us create it. The primary goal was to really focus on players that could shoot up the boards after the NFL combine.
We got an early offer for the 42nd pick and couldn’t turn it down. While GM Andrew Berry might be more apt to add a 2024 selection in an early trade-down, this one was too good to pass up:
Adding two more selections in the top 130 picks was huge and allowed us to still draft a player that we believe will be in play with the 42nd pick anyway.
DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin - A versatile player on the interior of the defensive line, Benton is the perfect addition to this team especially without mocking any free agent moves in today’s mock.
WR Jayden Reed, Michigan State - Adding a player who can make plays with the ball in his hands would be a big addition this offseason. While Jakeem Grant is now likely to return for 2023, he’s never proven to be the type of receiver that Reed could be.
CB Kei’Trel Clark, Louisville - Another player that should shoot up draft boards after the combine, Clark played well in the nickel last year and could immediately be a helpful player for Jim Schwartz.
DE Karl Brooks, BGSU - A local kid from Bowling Green, Brooks talked to our Barry Schuck at the Senior Bowl. A big, strong defensive end, Brooks mostly wins with power and adds to what Schwartz already has at defensive end.
LB Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati - One of the regulars in my mock drafts, Pace is a do it all defender that could rise up boards with good testing scores this week.
S Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State - A player that I am much higher on than most, it seems, Brown is a steal for the Browns here in the fourth round. With Benton, Clark, Brooks, Pace and Brown, Schwartz’s defense is remade quickly for the future.
DT Kobie Turner, Wake Forest - With a few extra picks, we went for the “more is better” concept with the addition of Turner in the middle of the line. A hard worker, Turner is likely a rotational tackle but one who shows well against the run and pass.
HB Kenny McIntosh, Georgia - When the pass-catching running back that fits the zone scheme well falls, I scoop him up to join Nick Chubb and Jerome Ford. Pretty much a staple, along with Pace, in these mocks.
WR Ronnie Bell, Michigan - Without free agency to account for, adding another receiver makes sense. This time, it is Bell who makes his living on deep routes but can catch the football much better than Anthony Schwartz has shown.
S Trey Dean III, Florida - A defensive back that intrigued me earlier in the offseason, I’m not sure how he is available here in the seventh round but might as well give as much competition in that room as possible.
After the combine concludes, I wouldn’t be shocked if many of these prospects are being mocked at least a round or more higher than where they are selected today. That confident in many of them.
If this was Berry’s draft, the defense would have a ton of upgrades with youth while the offense adds very specific weapons to help the talent already on that side of the ball.