The Cleveland Browns were once again regarded as a winner by many in the NFL Draft community. Cleveland was able to match value with need throughout the 2021 NFL Draft. While a lot of the team's objectives were checked off, there was still one box that that could pose a problem this season.
What the Browns got right
The franchise has done well to address positions of need and build depth on the roster. Cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams have battled injuries since entering the league and a team with aspirations of contending could ill afford to allow one injury to topple its title hopes. At pick No. 26 overall, the Browns selected Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II, who has also dealt with injuries. It is insurance in the event that injuries once again become an issue.
The Browns have attained great value over the past two years under executive vice president and general manager Andrew Berry, presumably because they take the best player available on their big board. When they target a player, they become aggressive in moving around to secure that player. Sitting with pick No. 59 overall in the second round, Cleveland witnessed the slide of Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and traded up seven spots to get him. Owusu-Koramoah offers more versatility to a defense that has added cornerback Troy Hill, safety John Johnson III, edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, defensive tackle Malik Jackson and edge rusher Takk McKinley this offseason.
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As the event progressed, the team was able to add other role players and depth. Auburn wide receiver Anthony Schwartz has elite speed and can clear out defenses to open passing lanes for Odell Beckham Jr. and the other receivers. Cincinnati offensive tackle James Hudson can continue to develop and serve as a swing tackle behind Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills. Ohio State defensive tackle Tommy Togiai will slide in and compete with Andrew Billings, Jordan Elliott, Malik McDowell, Damion Square and Jackson. West Virginia linebacker Tony Fields will compete with Owusu-Koramoah and others. Georgia safety Richard Lecounte and UCLA athlete Demetric Felton were other late additions.
What the Browns didn't do
Cleveland has been able to add competent starters and depth at every position on offense. The Browns will have some decisions to make after the season with key contributors expected to hit free agency like guard Wyatt Teller and tight end David Njoku. Few teams are able to retain all of their star players year to year. Tampa Bay was in a position to consider the future with picks made this year because it had zero holes on the roster. The Browns still had a few pressing deficiencies to mask.
The elite draft capital was used on a few key positions. There was simply not enough early draft picks to do everything that the franchise would have wanted to accomplish. The defensive line is one area that could use an infusion of Pro Bowl talent outside of Myles Garrett. Every other player along that unit is essentially a one-year rental and no defensive tackle has proven to be a consistently high-level performer. The defensive line unit poses the biggest question mark regarding the upcoming season.