Heading into the offseason, Andrew Berry and the rest of the front office knew they had to improve the defense. The Cleveland Browns were 17th in total defense this past fall, giving up nearly 360 yards per game. Before the 2021 NFL Draft, they signed a couple of players to help improve the defense, including John Johnson III, Troy Hill and Jadeveon Clowney. They continued adding to the defense in the draft. Let’s take a look at our Browns draft grades.
Browns Draft Grades and Analysis For Days 1 and 2
Round 1, Pick 26: CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
The Browns were lucky to have Greg Newsome II fall all the way to the Browns at pick 26. As stated, the Browns knew they needed to address the defensive side of the ball. Newsome is a great scheme fit for the Browns. He’s a long and lengthy corner with great speed. At Northwestern, he excelled in off-man coverage, which is exactly what the Browns will ask him to do in their defensive scheme.
The only two knocks on Newsome are his injury history and the fact that he tends to get too up-close and personal with receivers. In three years at Northwestern, he picked up 15 career penalties, with seven of those being pass interference calls. He needs to tone down his approach a bit while trying to adjust to the pro game. Other than those two knocks, drafting Newsome was and is a huge get for the Browns. Many people around the NFL, thought the Browns might be one corner away from being real Super Bowl contenders. Well, Andrew Berry and the Browns staff got their man on day one.
Browns Draft Grade: A
Round 2, Pick 52: LB/S Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Heading into day two of the NFL Draft, there was still a lot of talent on the board. With three wide receivers, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and Heisman winner DeVonta Smith going in the top-10, you would think there wouldn’t be many talented receivers left. However, that was not the case, as Elijah Moore from Ole Miss and Rondale Moore from Purdue went off the board before pick 50. Christian Barmore, the big defensive tackle from Alabama, was still on the board at the start of day two and was thought to be the Browns’ primary target. However, Barmore went to New England with pick 38. At this point, people were starting to take notice to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s free-fall. One of those teams was the Browns.
After he was not selected by Washington with pick 51, the Browns traded up from the 59th pick to the 52nd. Along with the 52nd pick, the Browns picked up a fourth-round pick, while only giving away pick 59 and 89. Berry used the 52nd pick on Owusu-Koramoah and the draft party downtown was all for it.
How much of a steal was Owusu-Koramoah for the Browns you ask? He was in consideration with the Browns for the 26th pick. Owusu-Koramoah is an incredibly versatile linebacker-safety hybrid. He has been compared to Isaiah Simmons and Derwin James. In today’s NFL, you need players that can play in space, and that is exactly what Owusu-Koramoah does. Adding him to a defense that already had John Johnson III, Ronnie Harrison and Denzel Ward will be very fun to watch. After drafting Greg Newsome II in the first round, the Browns somehow made a better pick at 52.
Browns Draft Grade: A+
Round 3, Pick 91: WR Anthony Schwartz, Auburn
The Browns indeed have one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL. When Odell Beckham Jr. is healthy, the wide receiver room boasts him, Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins. Landry has been incredible for the Browns, mostly playing out of the slot. Higgins has natural chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield. However, if there is anything missing from the Browns offense, it is a true speedster and deep ball threat. While OBJ is a great deep ball receiver, he is usually double covered. With that in mind, after spending the first two picks on the defense, Berry decided to draft the fastest player in the 2021 NFL Draft — Anthony Schwartz out of Auburn.
Schwartz was the fastest player in the draft, as he checked in with an official 4.25-second time in the 40-yard dash. He will need to bulk up a bit and refine his route-running, but he will be an immediate threat on the Browns offense. Schwartz can take the top off a defense in mere seconds. Another exciting possibility is the hope that Schwartz will be able to add a spark to the return game. The Browns haven’t had a kickoff return touchdown since 2009. Overall, drafting Schwartz this high may have been a reach, but it won’t matter if he’s as explosive as he seems to be.
Browns Draft Grade: B