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Draft INSIGHT: Could DT Mazi Smith be the Browns first pick?

Round 3: The defensive line could use another infusion in the interior

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

It very well could be that three of the four defensive tackles along the Cleveland Browns’ defensive line from 2023 might not make this year’s roster.

Two holdovers, Jordan Elliott and Tommy Togiai, had terrible production last year. Last year’s rookie Perrion Winfrey had the best season. Tavon Bryan signed a one-year deal to play with the Indianapolis Colts. Another rookie from last year was Roderick Perry who spent 2022 on the practice squad and signed a reserve/futures contract in January.

In their stead already are some new guys.

GM Andrew Berry’s first splash in free agency was the signing of DT Dalvin Tomlinson from the Minnesota Vikings. Pencil him as one of the two starters.

Two other defensive tackles were inked in Trysten Hill from Arizona and San Francisco’s Maurice Hurst.

Suddenly, what was once a dissolute area of Cleveland’s roster now appears to be headed in the right direction. But, is Berry done with this group? Could it use a young blue-chip candidate?

After the upcoming 2023 NFL draft, there may be more new guys who will be mixed into the recipe of the defense to rush the passer and stop the run. Cleveland does not have a second or a first-round pick this year, so their very first selection will be in the third round at pick #74. This is the pick they got in the Elijah Moore trade. The Browns also own pick #99 in the same round.

Let’s look at one prospect who would instantly solidify this group.

DT Mazi Smith

Draft projection: Round 3

Browns pick: #74 (Round 3 from New York Jets)


College: Michigan

Height: 6’-3”

Weight: 337 pounds

40-time: 4.95

Career Tackles: 88

Career Forced Fumbles: 1

Career Sacks: .5

Career Tackles for Loss: 6.0

Career Pass Defenses: 3

Career starts: 30


  • Rare power and agility
  • Excellent point-of-attack defender
  • Leader
  • Very athletic
  • Powerful puncher
  • Has good swim and slide moves
  • Shows great recognition of screen plays
  • Short area quickness
  • First Team All-Big 10 2022


  • Good motor that can run low in difficult, heated games
  • Struggles against scheme attacks
  • Not a good hand fighter
  • May initially become a two-down player
  • Has a tendency to begin to slow off the snap which gets him sealed
  • Had a felony gun charge reduced to a lesser charge

Expert Draft Site Analysis

Smith’s blend of size and quickness is rare. He can punch and control a base block with relative ease. However, he struggles to match the initial movement of move blockers, which diminishes his effectiveness. He has space-eating potential but needs to become more consistent at taking on double teams and securing his gap. Smith’s size and testing could give his draft slotting some juice but he’s more of a Day 2 talent with exciting upside than a plug-and-play starter.