The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft could not have played out better for the Cleveland Browns. General manager Andrew Berry sat back, as they watched the first round unfold perfectly. Two of the top cornerbacks, Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II, went off the board at picks eight and nine. They went to the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, respectively. The next cornerback to hear his name called was Caleb Farley out of Virginia Tech. Farley had a myriad of injuries before the draft, so some teams were skeptical about how well his play would translate. Then, the Browns got their man with the 26th pick in the first round — Greg Newsome II, cornerback out of Northwestern.
Greg Newsome II Stats and Measurables
Height: 6’0″ | Weight: 192 Lbs
Arm Length: 31 1/8″ | Hands: 8.7/8″
Career Tackles: 71 (1 TFL) | Interceptions: 1
Passes Defended: 20 | Fumble Recoveries: 1
Greg Newsome II Northwestern Summary
Newsome is one of the youngest players in this NFL Draft. He’s only 20 years old, but will be 21 on May 18th. He’s a long and strong defensive back, which is what GM Berry looks for in a defensive back. Newsome played largely in the same defensive scheme at Northwestern that he will play for the Browns. He grew up in Chicago, but attended the famed IMG Academy before Northwestern. Newsome played in six games in 2018, starting in four of them. He racked up 23 tackles and four passes defended as a freshman.
As a sophomore, Newsome unfortunately missed time due to a groin injury. His play at the beginning of the year caught the eyes of some NFL teams and, by the end of the college football season, he was being looked at as a mid-to-late first rounder. He was named first-team Big Ten and third-team All-American. Newsome finished the 2020 campaign with one interception, 12 tackles and a team-high 10 pass breakups. Unfortunately, the corner injured his groin against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. Then, he decided to skip Northwestern’s bowl game to focus his attention to the NFL Draft.
How the Browns Will Utilize Greg Newsome II
As I stated earlier, Newsome is almost a perfect match for defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ defense. He has played in both man and zone coverage schemes. Not only does Newsome bring length to the secondary, but he brings speed as well. Last year, the Browns were picked apart by small and intermediate crossing routes, and other routes under 15 yards. At the start of the season, the Browns played mostly cover three. However, as the season rolled along, they played a more conservative zone scheme. With the addition of Newsome, DC Woods shouldn’t have to play much safe coverage. He should be able to lock down one receiver, while Denzel Ward locks down the other receiver on the opposite side.
Overall, Newsome’s impact during the 2021 season will be determined by how fast he can pick up different coverages. He will need to play both coverages very well, if the Browns want their defense to be better than last year. Last year, the defense gave up nearly 250 passing yards per game. They also gave up just over 26 points per game this past year.
Where Does Greedy Williams Fit?
Williams has had a tough time ever since he joined the Browns roster in the 2019 NFL Draft. From the get-go, Williams struggled with injuries. However, he did make 12 starts that year. While his name appeared as a starter on the defense, he had no business being the number two corner on any NFL team at this point. During his rookie season, he didn’t pick off a single pass, only had 37 tackles and defended just two passes. It’s safe to say the Browns were sending a message to Williams with their selection of Newsome in the first round.
Predicted 2021-22 Greg Newsome II Browns Stats
Games Played (Started): 15 (13) | Interceptions: 3
Tackles: 25 | Passes Defended: 13
Forced Fumbles: 2 | Fumbles Recovered: 2
Accolades: All-Rookie First Team
Overall, Newsome is a better defensive back than Williams. However, don’t be surprised when Williams gets a lot of defensive snaps early on in the season. It will be hard for the Browns to just move on from Williams, considering he was their earliest pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Also, with the signing of Troy Hill from Los Angeles, they have a guy who will step right into that spot from day one.
In the beginning of the season, I expect Williams to get more opportunities than Newsome. However, as the season progresses, Newsome will pick up more and more playing time. By the end of the year, the second corner spot will be locked up by the rookie. On top of all of that, there are a lot of people around Cleveland who believe this defense could be a top-10 unit. I’ll believe it when I see it.