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Three Players the Browns Should Consider at No. 44 Overall
Most Cleveland Browns fans would rather have an elite franchise quarterback than a first-round pick. The Browns agreed, shipping the 13th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft to the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson.
With Watson now in the mix, Cleveland won’t make its first draft selection until the No. 44 pick in Friday’s second round. Luckily, as successful second-rounders like RB Nick Chubb and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah can confirm, the Browns should still be able to land a quality player when they go on the clock.
Forty-three other picks have to pass by before Cleveland turns its selection in, so it’s hard to know exactly how the board will look when it’s Go Time. But based on mock drafts, scouting reports, and team needs, at least three players must be considered when the Browns make their first pick.
EDGE David Ojabo
As many as four edge rushers, including Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, are expected to go within the first ten picks. However, Hutchinson’s teammate should draw Cleveland’s attention if he’s on the board at 44.
Ojabo is far from traditional. The 21-year-old was born in Nigeria and grew up in Scotland before coming to the United States at 15. He began playing football for the first time during his junior year, soon earning the attention of Division 1 scouts. Eventually, the 6-foot-4 pass rusher committed to Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines.
Despite just 20 total college football games under his belt, Ojabo was First Team All-Big Ten and the conference leader in forced fumbles in 2021. Given his explosiveness and general athleticism, it wouldn’t surprise to see him go in the late-first round.
Of course, Ojabo is still incredibly raw, which could scare a few teams away. But the talented pass rusher is worth a close look as the Browns search for a Jadaveon Clowney replacement to pair with Myles Garrett.
WR George Pickens
If this year’s draft goes as expected, we’ll see several wide receivers taken in the first round. Some are guaranteed first-rounders like Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, while others may be late picks on Day 1.
Pickens, meanwhile, looks more and more like a Day 2 selection. The former Georgia Bulldog led the team in receiving yards and earned Sugar Bowl MVP honors as a true freshman. Yet his college career was also marred by several immature moments, including a fistfight with an opposing player.
On top of maturity concerns, Pickens was also limited to five games with the national champions in 2021 due to a torn ACL suffered last spring. However, he’s proved that, when healthy, few receivers in this loaded draft class are on his level.
At 6-foot-3, the 21-year-old would be a great complement to Amari Cooper, Cleveland’s new WR1. With impressive size and a proven track record in big games, Pickens is a first-round talent with a second-round price tag.
EDGE Logan Hall
With Clowney and both starting tackles (Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell) out of the picture, the Browns need to address their weakened defensive line in the draft. If Ojabo is too much of a project, there is another option Cleveland must ponder.
Hall was a three-star recruit before committing to Houston. The 22-year-old appeared in 46 games and made 23 starts across four years, earning First Team All-AAC honors in 2021. He also registered 6.5 sacks and led the Cougars with 13.5 tackles for a loss.
At 6-foot-6 and 283 lbs., Hall has an NFL-ready physique. However, some scouts feel he lacked consistency in college due to his one season with more than three sacks.
The benefit to drafting Hall, however, is his versatility. He played all over the D-line at Houston and could easily kick inside on specific packages in the pros. For a Browns team with three starters to replace, that could be the difference-maker when it comes time for the selection.
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