Browns Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2021 NFL Draft PicksApril 21, 2021
Browns Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2021 NFL Draft Picks
The Cleveland Browns enter the NFL draft in a different position than usual. General manager Andrew Barry is scheduled to make his first pick at No. 26 next week with a playoff-caliber roster that has few glaring holes.
After a divisional-round appearance in the playoffs last season, the Browns already had a strong roster. They did a nice job to patch up some of the obvious holes in free agency. The signings of John Johnson III, Troy Hill and Jadeveon Clowney among others give the team the defensive upgrades they needed going into 2021.
Free agency is for short-term fixes, though. The draft is where a roster is truly built. It's also where veterans are often replaced.
For a few players on the roster, this could be the event where their eventual replacement joins the team. For others, the influx of new talent could change their role for the better.
The following three players should be paying extra attention to who the Cleveland brass decides to add to the roster on draft weekend.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. and WR Jarvis Landry
The list starts with a two-for-one special. In the short term, wide receiver is not a pressing need for the Browns. A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry paired with Rashard Higgins and the weapons the team has at running back and tight end is more than enough firepower.
But when you start to look ahead at the financial realities of 2022 and a Baker Mayfield extension, it gets harder to imagine they'll keep the LSU receiver tandem together.
The pair will cost a combined $30.6 million in 2021, and the number climbs to $31.5 million in 2022. Both will be in voidable years in their contract by then.
It's a lot of money to invest in a receiver like Landry who doesn't stretch the field, and it's hard to know what OBJ will look like in this offense after his ACL injury last year.
With everything the Browns have done in free agency, the team is in a position to preemptively address needs they could have next year. Taking a receiver early would not be that surprising, and it could spell the end for either Beckham or Landry as soon as 2022.
CB Greedy Williams
Opportunity in the NFL can be fleeting. A few unfortunately timed injuries can derail a player's career pretty quickly, and Greedy Williams is on the precipice of becoming a cautionary tale.
The 23-year-old played 12 games in his rookie 2019 campaign and showed promise holding opposing quarterbacks to an 84.9 passer rating when targeted with two passes defended.
Last season would have been a chance for him to break out and secure the outside cornerback spot opposite Denzel Ward. Instead, he sustained a nerve injury in his right shoulder that held him out for the entire season.
The Browns' moves thus far have kept the spot across from Ward open. Terrance Mitchell wasn't brought back, and Troy Hill figures to be deployed in the slot more than the outside.
So Williams is lightly penciled into the starting lineup before the draft, but it won't be surprising if he's competing with a first- or second-round pick when camp starts.
LB Mack Wilson
The Browns haven't been willing to spend premium picks at linebacker, but they have addressed it in the last three drafts. In that span, they've taken Genard Avery (2018), Mack Wilson (2019), Sione Takitaki (2019) and Jacob Phillips (2020).
Avery is gone, and Wilson could be next. The Alabama product played 89 percent of the snaps in his rookie season but was down to 35 percent of the snaps in 13 games last season.
The 23-year-old's disappointing 2020 campaign was most obvious in his tackling. His missed tackle percentage went from 13.7 as a rookie to 20.4 percent after missing 10 tackles on 49 attempts.
Free-agent signing Anthony Walker is set to link up with Takitaki and Phillips. When you consider the use of sub-packages where the Browns will likely only have two linebackers on the field, the depth chart is already fairly crowded for Wilson to get on the field.
Add in a Day 1 or 2 pick at linebacker, and Wilson is quickly the odd man out.