It’s a new day in Cleveland. For real, this time. Concerning a fan base that waited far too long for success, the 2020 season was the end of years of hardship, heartache, and false hope. After crushing the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs and taking the Kansas City Chiefs to the wire, the Cleveland Browns are officially back. Now, it’s time to keep building through the NFL Draft. With this Browns post-free agency 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Cleveland manages to fill what little holes they still have. Furthermore, they’re geared up to compete for not only the AFC South but the AFC itself.
Browns Post-Free Agency 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
- Round 1, Pick 26: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
- Round 2, Pick 59: Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
- Round 3, Pick 89: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
- Round 3, Pick 91: Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State
- Round 4, Pick 110: Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
- Round 4, Pick 132: Cameron Sample, DL, Tulane
- Round 5, Pick 169: Tay Gowan, CB, UCF
- Round 6, Pick 211: Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
- Round 7, Pick 257: Brenden Jaimes, OL, Nebraska
Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft | Pick-by-pick analysis
Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
The Browns don’t have many pressing needs, but EDGE is certainly one of them. GM Andrew Berry did sign former first-round pick Takkarist McKinley in free agency to help replace Olivier Vernon. However, McKinley isn’t a reliable full-time starter at this point. It would be wise for Cleveland to draft an edge rusher early. That way, the depth of their EDGE unit improves, as well as the viability of the starting lineup.
At the tail end of Round 1, the Browns are in prime position. Between Joseph Ossai, Azeez Ojulari, and Jaelan Phillips, there’s bound to be at least one worthy edge rusher available. In this 7-Round Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Phillips was the one still on the board, and pending medical evaluations, might be the best of the bunch.
To start, Phillips is an elite athlete at the EDGE position. He’s not quite as freakish as Myles Garrett, but no one is. Still, Phillips earned a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.87 at his pro day, logging a 4.58 40-yard dash, a 36-inch vertical, a 125-inch broad jump, and elite agility scores at 6’5″ and 260 pounds.
On top of his athletic foundation, Phillips also has some of the best, most violent, and precise hands in the class. If he can stay healthy, he can give Cleveland another fearsome presence on the edge.
Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
The Browns have a lot of young talent at linebacker. Mack Wilson and Jacob Phillips, however, were both far too streaky in 2020 to elicit confidence moving forward. Sione Takitaki looks like he can provide some stability, as can free-agent addition Anthony Walker. Yet, the Browns shouldn’t settle, and if they think they can add another top-tier talent at the position, they should pull the trigger. That’s what they do here by taking Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning.
Ohio State underutilized Browning at times in their defense, but he often flashed playing in the second level. Browning offers elite athletic traits above all else. He currently has the class’ top RAS at linebacker at 9.98. Contributing to that score is a 4.56 40-yard dash, a 40-inch vertical, a 130-inch broad jump, and a 6.78 three-cone time standing at 6’3″ and 245 pounds.
On top of his athleticism, Browning is versatile. He has experience across the second level, and his explosiveness shows up in every facet of his game. He’s a tenacious run defender, a smooth pass defender, and a menace rushing on the blitz. Browning offers the Browns flexibility and upside at linebacker. In time, he could develop into a high-level starter.
Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
In my recent three-round mock draft, I gave the Browns a receiver in Round 1. With Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. aging, I felt it was reasonable to add a new weapon into the pipeline for quarterback Baker Mayfield.
This time around, I decided to wait, add talent on defense, and let the depth of the wide receiver class fall in place. In Round 3 of this 7-Round Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace is available, and he’s a great value add.
Wallace doesn’t have elite athleticism or size, but what he does have is a dynamic ability that stems from crisp fundamentals, excellent body control, and venerable toughness in contested situations. Wallace isn’t slow either as he logged a 4.5 40-yard dash at his pro day. That speed, while not the upper echelon, is enough to put pressure on defenses downfield.
Wallace has the feel and fearlessness downfield to be a big-play threat early on for the Browns. He also compares favorably to current Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, in the sense that he’s tough, disciplined, and dynamic in spite of his lack of athletic dominance. Wallace bolsters Cleveland’s receiving corps right away. Additionally, he can help ease the pain of potentially losing Beckham and Landry in the future.
Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State
The Browns’ need on the edge was a bit more pressing, but they could stand to add more talent on the interior defensive line as well. Sheldon Richardson will provide some returning security, and Jordan Elliott remains a high-upside rotational lineman. Cleveland also signed veteran Malik Jackson in free agency, and 2020 opt-out Andrew Billings can provide help on odd fronts.
Nevertheless, the Browns need more proven ability at the 3-technique spot, and near the middle of Round 3, Ohio State defensive lineman Tommy Togiai is an excellent addition. Normally, prospects with taller frames are coveted, but Togiai sports an enticing 6’1″ and 296-pound frame. His stout, powerful build gives him natural leverage, which he uses to magnify his near-elite explosive traits on the interior.
Togiai brings a great deal of energy to every play with his combination of pure power and burst. At his pro day, he logged a 32-inch vertical, while also putting up a whopping 40 bench reps. In a rotation with Richardson, Elliott, and Jackson, Togiai offers both immediate utility and long-term potential.
Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
It wasn’t my initial intention to double-dip at linebacker with this pick. Nonetheless, sometimes the board falls in a way that makes it hard to pass up these kinds of opportunities. Such was the case when Chazz Surratt fell to the No. 110 overall pick in this 7-Round Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
Surratt’s journey in 2021 has been peculiar. At one point, he was considered as a potential first-round pick. However, risers late in the process such as the aforementioned Browning, Jamin Davis, Zaven Collins, and Jabril Cox have pushed Surratt down the board. He’s now a borderline third-round pick, but there are enough concerns — his age and his suspect tackling ability — for him to fall into Day 3.
Yes, Surratt will be 24 in his rookie season. And yes, he needs to become a much more proactive and consistent tackler. On the other hand, the Browns have already added a linebacker in Browning, so there’s little risk in taking Surratt later than expected.
Surratt is explosive and instinctive and can add more weight to help shore up his tackling ability. If he can develop there, he has the natural fluidity and processing speed to be another potential starter for the Browns.
Cameron Sample, DL, Tulane
Remember when Cleveland had questions on the defensive line, Browns fans? Me neither. Let’s make sure it never happens again by selecting Cameron Sample in Round 4 of this 7-Round Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
The Browns have selected both a pure edge rusher and a pure defensive tackle at this point. Now, they can mix a little bit of both into one selection with this pick. If Joe Woods wants to add hybrid fronts into his arsenal, Sample possesses the versatility to play a multitude of roles on the line. Even if Woods sticks to his 4-3 alignment, Sample has the explosiveness and the leverage to be effective both on the edge and at 3-technique.
Sample was dominant at times at the Senior Bowl and put up impressive numbers at his pro day. He measured in at 6’3″ and 267 pounds, registering a 2.77 20-yard split and a 37-inch vertical jump. He has the build of a tweener, but even at 270 pounds, he has the explosiveness, tenacity, and brutal hand-fighting ability to win wherever he lines up.
Tay Gowan, CB, UCF
Theoretically, the Browns should have a very solid cornerback trio in Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and Troy Hill. M.J. Stewart also played well in a rotational role in 2020. Still, teams can never have enough talent in their secondary. Taking into account Cleveland’s troubling injury history there, that fact rings even truer for Andrew Berry and company.
Since most of the Browns’ top needs have been addressed, Round 5 is the perfect time to take a high-upside cornerback. At this juncture in this 7-Round Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft, UCF’s Tay Gowan provides the starting upside the Browns seek.
Standing at almost 6’1″ and 186 pounds, Gowan is an athletic, lengthy cornerback. He consistently shows tangible upside on tape. He’s a very fluid, twitchy player, and he’s also long and physical enough to warrant reps on defense. At his pro day, he put up a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 35.5-inch vertical jump, reinforcing the athletic potential he displayed on tape.
Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
The two-headed tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt struck fear in the hearts of opposing defensive coordinators last season. As long as the Browns’ offensive line stays intact, that’s not going to change.
Nevertheless, the Browns could potentially make that tandem even more efficient by adding a high-upside spark plug to the running back rotation. With a late sixth-round pick, this is a safe, potentially lucrative investment to make.
Michigan’s Chris Evans doesn’t have a particularly inspiring statistical report card. Yet, it seems as though his natural talent might have been diluted by Michigan’s perennially underwhelming offensive attack. At his pro day, Evans turned heads with a RAS of 9.85, which included a 4.52 40-yard dash, a 40.5-inch vertical, a 127-inch broad jump, and a 6.83 three-cone time at 5’11” and 211 pounds.
Behind Chubb and Hunt, Evans won’t feel any pressure to produce right away. At the same time, with Cleveland’s top-tier offensive line clearing lanes, Evans’ natural explosiveness and downfield burst can help shine. If Evans is able to get back to form and expand on his receiving ability, this could be a home-run value pick.
Brenden Jaimes, OL, Nebraska
The Browns’ roster is good enough that we don’t have to force another need pick with a later-round selection. Instead, we can look to the future, and add depth to areas of importance. One such area is the offensive line.
Cleveland owned one of, if not the best offensive fronts last season. They also have a tremendous combination of depth and starting utility. Having said that, players like Wyatt Teller and Chris Hubbard are due for new contracts soon.
Additionally, more transitions are sure to come in the future. At this pick in our 7-Round Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Nebraska’s Brenden Jaimes serves as a solid, cheap insurance policy for the Browns’ offensive line.
Jaimes was excellent at the Senior Bowl and offers versatility as a lineman who can play both tackle and guard. In case the Browns can’t keep their OL group together over the next 2-3 years, Jaimes’ presence provides an extra buffer for the unit. It’s also not out of the question that he develops into a starter.
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