The Cleveland Browns are finally above .500, heading into Week 4 with a 2-1 record. However, despite the early success, as Browns fans are well aware, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year’s NFL Draft. Therefore, let’s run through a Cleveland Browns 2021 NFL mock draft using Pro Football Network’s simulator and see how we can improve the team for a legitimate playoff push in 2021.[sv slug=mocksim]
Cleveland Browns 2021 NFL Mock Draft Week 3 edition
Round 1 Pick 16 – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau is on the board here, and pairing him with Myles Garrett is incredibly tempting. Olivier Vernon will be a free agent after the season, and Adrian Clayborn, Porter Gustin, and Curtis Weaver are the other rotational EDGE players on the roster. Cleveland needs to find a long-term complement to Garrett, but they pass on that chance here to bolster the secondary. Ohio State’s Shaun Wade went ninth overall to the Detroit Lions, but a different elite cornerback prospect falls into the Browns lap.
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The son of an All-Pro father, the younger Surtain has the genes, size, physical ability, and smarts to follow in the older Surtain’s footsteps as an elite cover man. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds, Surtain has the frame to match up with any receiver in the NFL, and has three interceptions, 15 passes defended, and four fumbles forced through 28 career games. Getting him at pick 16 is a steal, and Surtain should pair with Denzel Ward to form one of the league’s very best CB tandems. If Greedy Williams ends up panning out, things get even better.
Coverage is more valuable than pass rush, so even though Rousseau’s potential is tantalizing, Surtain is the smarter pick.
Round 2 Pick 48 – Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
When Surratt arrived on campus in 2017, he was a quarterback. He threw for over 1,300 yards as a redshirt freshman, but after appearing in only one game in 2018, he made the almost unheard-of switch to linebacker and had a very good junior year, all things considered. He’s an excellent athlete for the position and also has great size at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds. His QB background shows up in his coverage instincts, and although Surratt is still raw, the development he’s shown in such a short amount of time bodes well for his future.
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The Browns have attempted to marginalize the linebacker position in their defense, and while that’s fine, they still need an inside linebacker who can cover, otherwise opposing offenses will continue to expose the group’s deficiencies there every single week. If Surratt can continue improving this season, he could end up being the ideal candidate for the lone LB spot in Cleveland’s ideal dime defense.
Round 3 Pick 80 – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
With 12 interceptions and 13 passes defended over his first two seasons, it’s easy to see why so many people like Cisco. He is a risk-taker. He does get burned because of it, but his instincts and ball skills are both superb, and if he can be taught to be a bit more conservative, he’ll be a great single-high safety.
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Cleveland’s safety situation is not great to put it lightly, even after trading for Ronnie Harrison, Cisco’s presence would allow 2020 second-round pick Grant Delpit, who is currently on injured reserve due to a torn Achilles, to roam around the field, putting his uniquely versatile skillset to use. If the Browns really want to run a dime base, they’ll have to continue spending capital on the safety position.
Round 3 Pick 90 – Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
If there’s one thing the Browns offense lacks, it’s a weapon with game-breaking speed. The 6-foot, 179-pound Schwartz has reportedly clocked a 4.27-second 40 time, and it’s easy to believe that when watching him. He would add a new dynamic to Kevin Stefanski’s offense, and his threatening speed would open up the running game even more for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Schwartz is the kind of athlete you gamble on, even if his collegiate production hasn’t been stellar.
Round 4 Pick 109 – Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
Tryon may not be the long-term starter the Browns are looking for opposite of Garrett, but he’ll at least be a versatile rotational pass-rusher. At 6-foot-5, 262 pounds, he has a great frame and collected nine sacks in 2019. He will inject some juice into the EDGE room and should also be able to contribute on special teams.
Round 4 Pick 111 – LaBryan Ray, DT, Alabama
Larry Ogunjobi is in a contract year, and Sheldon Richardson has an out in his deal after this season (otherwise, he is set to make $13 million in 2021). Adding depth to the defensive line is still a must, and Ray provides that. He can play both inside and out, but his best fit is likely at defensive tackle. The Browns nailed the Jordan Elliott pick in 2020 and will be hoping for a similar result with Ray.
Round 5 Pick 147 – Kary Vincent Jr., DB, LSU
Cleveland has taken three LSU players over the past two years, and the team has also acquired Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. So, in order to meet the Tiger quota, Andrew Berry nabs Vincent, a speedy and versatile defensive back. He’s played mostly as a slot corner, but can also man the single high spot. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods wants safeties who can cover like corners, Vincent is both.
Round 6 Pick 175 – Joey Blount, S, Virginia
A team can never have too many versatile DBs, so Berry adds another here. Blount collected 71 tackles in 2019 and added three interceptions. He tends to play too aggressively at times, but he has the instincts and athletic ability to be a valuable player in the NFL.
Round 7 Pick 217 – Braden Galloway, TE, Clemson
With the Browns final pick this year, they give Baker Mayfield yet another weapon to throw to. Galloway has all of 207 collegiate snaps to his name due to a suspension in 2019 but has made the most of his limited opportunities. His long reception in last season’s National Championship Game gave fans a glimpse of his immense potential. After adding 10 pounds of muscle over the offseason, Galloway now stands 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and hasn’t lost any of his quickness. He is too fast and agile for linebackers to cover, and shows the ability to be an excellent route runner.
Galloway will give Cleveland insurance against another David Njoku injury, and a replacement if Njoku is allowed to walk after next season. In the meantime, Galloway can be deployed as a move tight end, similar to how Kyle Pitts is used by the Florida Gators. Galloway is not Pitts, but by season’s end, he should be considered a Day 2 prospect.
In this Cleveland Browns 2021 NFL mock draft, Cleveland adds two dynamic offensive weapons while rebuilding its secondary and adding talent to the defensive line rooms. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Browns defense won’t be built in just one draft. Even with this class, things won’t be as good as they need to be, but it would be a major step forward, and if it does not make the Browns playoff-caliber, then it should put them close.