Perfect Picks 2024: Cleveland Browns

You would be forgiven for thinking the Browns’ season was over when Deshaun Watson went down with a shoulder injury. However, an impromptu late-career swansong from Joe Flacco propelled Cleveland into the playoffs. It earned head coach Kevin Stefanski the Coach of the Year award and Flacco, Comeback Player of the Year.

It was also a testament to the strength of the Browns’ roster outside of quarterback. The amount of money invested in Watson means the Browns need him to recapture some of his early career form. If he does, this franchise is very firmly in a Super Bowl window. That said, the contract also dictates that the Browns continue to depend on solid draft classes.

Here’s our take on what this year’s could look like.

Round 2 - Ja'Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

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Veteran receiver Amari Cooper enters the last year of his current contract, however, he remains one of the top players at his position. Outside of him, the receiver group is inexperienced. Elijah Moore will man the slot role while Cedric Tillman and David Bell have flashed potential but not enough for a receiver to be off the table early in the draft.

Ja’Lynn Polk had a strong 2023 season and benefitted from the time Washington teammate Jalen McMillan missed through injury. Polk surpassed 1,000 receiving yards and has the versatility to play inside or outside. The Browns don’t have a first-round pick here so they will be looking for a starter with this pick. Polk fits the bill.

Round 3 - Michael Hall Jr, DT, Ohio State

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Dalvin Tomlinson provides the majority of the bulk in the Browns’ defensive interior but they could certainly add a bit more dynamism in the form of a 3-technique. Shelby Harris, Jordan Elliott, and Maurice Hurst are all out of contract so it will be a position the Browns have to address, whether they re-sign some of those guys or dip into free agency.

They don’t have to look too far in this mock draft as they grab Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr. He returned to the Buckeyes last year even though he likely would have had a similar status had he declared for the draft. At 6’2, 280lbs he is undersized for the role and his production took a dip in 2023, going from five sacks the previous year to two this time around. That said, he shows good get-off and could develop into a solid interior rusher.

Mid Round Gem - James Williams, S, Miami

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At the start of this year, James Williams was one of my draft crushes. He displayed a unique combination of size and speed. He measures in at 6’5, 215lbs, and showed the range to play as a deep safety but also the tackling ability to come downhill. While Williams didn’t quite live up to the hype, he is a versatile player who could take snaps at linebacker.

That versatility is a strength the Browns could use, given they have a lack of depth at both spots. Anthony Walker and Jacob Phillips are out of contract so a player like Williams could begin his career as a backup linebacker. His coverage ability certainly appeals and he could be a useful tight end eraser in this defense.

Late Round Sleeper - Curtis Jacobs, LB, Penn State

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If Williams stays at his college position of safety, then the Browns may still be on the hunt for a linebacker with their late-round selections. Curtis Jacobs has plenty of experience at the Big-10 level taking 1,670 snaps for Penn State in his college career.

After flashing early as a freshman for the Nittany Lions, Jacobs’ performances have dropped off and 2023 was his least productive to date. Jacobs recorded a PFF grade of only 55.8 in run defense and 64.9 in pass coverage. That said, he was a 5-star recruit and teams are always willing to take a chance on that type of talent and athleticism.

Draft in full

Round 2 – Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

Round 3 – Michael Hall Jr, DT, Ohio State

Round 5 – Xavier Thomas, Edge, Clemson

Round 5 – James Williams, S, Miami

Round 6 – Javion Cohen, iOL, Miami

Round 6 – Dylan McMahon, C, NC State

Round 7 – Curtis Jacobs, LB, Penn State

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at