How the Cleveland Browns use their eight selections in the upcoming NFL draft will be intriguing. The team currently has six of those selections combined in rounds three, four and five, giving them ample opportunity to move up as the draft is going on if a player they like is falling.
The Browns did just that two years ago when LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah fell due to a concern around a heart condition. That, along with his smaller frame, led him to fall to a point where Cleveland could trade up for him.
In 2023, LB Trenton Simpson is a player that could lead to the same trade-up mentality.
Simpson isn’t the biggest linebacker at 6’2”, 235 pounds but he is solidly built. As his Relative Athletic Score shows us, Simpson is strong, explosive, fast and quick leading to a very good overall score:
Trenton Simpson is a LB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.83 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 43 out of 2459 LB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/w3OJilYJkL #RAS pic.twitter.com/24U8KsZh3f— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 19, 2023
Unfortunately for Simpson, but perhaps fortunately for the Browns, off-ball linebackers are not valued as highly as a lot of other positions on the defense. Standing “only” at 6’2” will also dissuade some teams from taking him before the middle/late second round.
Box score scouting shows a very versatile player in Simpson. He combined for 165 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five passes defended and three forced fumbles as a part of the Clemson Tigers defense.
Given his athletic prowess, production and Clemson and Cleveland’s need for a partner for Owusu-Koramoah long term, it is no surprise that the Browns will have Simpson in for a visit:
The #Cowboys will host at least two prospects on pre-draft visits tomorrow, with #Clemson LB Trenton Simpson and #Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt coming to visit, sources say. Simpson has the #Browns after that.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 3, 2023
At this point, Simpson’s average mock draft position is near the middle of the second round. Based on the “Jimmy Johnson Trade Chart,” Cleveland would have to trade their first three selections to get into position to nab Simpson. The more up-to-date, and seemingly relevant to how teams trade in the NFL, chart done by Fitzgerald and Spielberger would have the cost much cheaper.
Adding a long-term starter that can be strong against the run but not a liability against the pass could be a vital addition to the Browns defense moving forward. Simpson fits that bill.