The team entered the weekend without a first- or second-round selection thanks to previous trades for quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Elijah Moore, so there was a bit of a hurry-up-and-wait mentality until the Browns entered the fun in Friday’s third round.
But once general manager Andrew Berry got going with the selection of Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman with the No. 74 overall pick and continuing through the team’s final selection of the day in Ohio State center Luke Wypler with the No. 190 overall pick, Berry hit some areas of need along the roster and filled in some depth at other spots.
The completion of the draft is not yet 24 hours old, but draft grades have already been assembled and disseminated by various NFL media members, so let’s take a run through what some of the people who are paid to know things had to say, with the grades running all across the scale.
In a draft class of undersized wide receivers, Tillman was among the few top prospects with prototypical X measurables. He has good size, he is physical and he attacks the football in the air. With the additions of Tillman and the trade for Elijah Moore, Deshaun Watson will have more options in the passing game entering his second season with the team.
The Browns have made it a priority to improve the interior of their defensive line this offseason, and they continue that with the addition of (Siaki) Ika here. A mountain of a man at 358 pounds, he isn’t just a run defender, registering a 76.4 PFF pass-rushing grade in 2022.
There were questions about Dawand Jones’ conditioning/commitment that likely contributed to his slide down boards, but there’s a lot of reason to bet on Jones’ talent at this stage of the draft. His size and length afford him room for error, and he has enough movement ability at his size to have success as a starter. Jones earned 80-plus PFF grades as the Buckeyes’ starting right tackle in each of the last two seasons.
Wypler was the 54th-ranked player on the PFF big board, making this one of the better value selections in the draft in our eyes. He earned 79.0-plus PFF grades in each of his seasons as a starter for the Buckeyes, excelling as a zone run blocker (89th percentile over the last two seasons) specifically. Pair that with plus athleticism, and this looks like a steal for Cleveland.
The Browns didn’t have a first-round pick because of the Deshaun Watson trade, and were relatively quiet over the first two days of the draft: They added a physical possession receiver in Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman in Round 3, who could give their quarterback a big-bodied target on third downs and in the red zone. Later in the third, they took Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika; he’s a massive, block-eating nose tackle who should be able to rotate with Dalvin Tomlinson in the middle early on. But I really liked the value Cleveland got on day three: Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones has a truly gargantuan frame, giving the Browns a quality backup for right tackle Jack Conklin who could eventually develop into a starter at that spot. Missouri edge Isaiah McGuire was one of my favorite sleepers coming in this draft, offering elite length and plenty of explosiveness as a pass rusher. He should factor in on the team’s defensive end group early in his career.
Some teams had a higher grade on wideout Cedric Tillman (74) than his Tennessee teammate Jalin Hyatt, who went a pick before him. Tillman was limited by an ankle injury last season, but at 6-foot-3, he can go up and get a 50-50 ball. Siaki Ika (98) is a 335-pound run-plugger of a defensive tackle. He isn’t going to get many sacks, but he’ll eat up blockers. Dawand Jones (111) is a mountain of a man who could develop into the starting right tackle. Isaiah McGuire (126) can be a rotational pass-rusher as a rookie. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (140) is a solid dual-threat, developmental quarterback. Luke Wypler (190) actually is my third-ranked center; I thought he might go two rounds before Cleveland got him.
Again, for what Berry had in this draft, he did a great job. He never reached, and he used his selections on premium positions.
Trades to acquire Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore cost the Browns their first- and second-round picks but they did well with their third-round selections of Tillman (the pick coming back from the Jets in the Moore trade), a strong outside presence at receiver, and Ika, the space-eater inside that they needed.
Jones’ pure size makes him a promising swing tackle. McGuire provides some power as a backup defensive end. Thompson-Robinson played a lot of college football but still has upside to cultivate. Wypler’s value in the sixth round was too strong to pass on.
While not a grade, Mike Jones at The Athletic placed the Browns in the “losers” category:
Mortgaging the future for Deshaun Watson meant the Browns had few resources to significantly upgrade their roster through the draft. Can their top pick, third-rounder Cedric Tillman, develop into a threat? Will the rest of the mid- to late-round picks (including UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson) be anything more than depth acquisitions?
However, The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman was far more complimentary, giving the Browns an “A” for the weekend:
Without a first- or second-round pick, the Browns might have the best draft from round three onward. Specific to day three, the Browns drafted Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones and Missouri edge rusher Isaiah McGuire — both potential second-rounders — in the fourth round, then picked up Ohio State center Luke Wypler in the sixth round. All three could end up as starters within two years.
They spent this year’s first-round pick (plus two others) on Watson and what’s quickly projecting as an ill-considered, fully guaranteed, $230 million contract. Their second-rounder was used on underachieving Jets WR Elijah Moore in a pre-draft trade. In Round 4, they took massive Ohio State RT Dawand Jones – hard to see where he fits in, but maybe he’s a microcosm of larger plan that will (hopefully) make more sense in time. Third-round WR Cedric Tillman and DT Siaki Ika appear like they could contribute immediately.
Didn’t pick until WR Cedric Tillman at No. 74. OT Dawand Jones and DL Isaiah McGuire bolster the trenches. CB Cameron Mitchell was solid value in the fifth round.
The Deshaun Watson trade made the Browns operate without a first-rounder but they compensated by focusing on key offensive and defensive depth across positions. In between, they got Ika to be the run-stuffing tackle they desperately needed right away.
What do you think, Browns fans? How would you grade this year’s draft class by the Browns?
How would you grade Cleveland’s 2023 NFL Draft class?
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