The Cleveland Browns have a talented roster. They believe they have their franchise quarterback with Deshaun Watson. If Watson can return to his pre-suspension form, Cleveland can challenge the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North title.
The Browns are without their first-round pick from the Watson trade. They also miss out on their second-round choice thanks to their acquisition of WR Elijah Moore. So now they must enter the 2023 NFL Draft looking for depth pieces with any selections in the top 73.
I don’t expect the Browns to actually make all eight draft picks. They always seem to be wheeling and dealing.
Unique to other team mock drafts at Draft Countdown (LINKS BELOW), I had my picks critiqued by an expert on the team. For the Cleveland Browns, I brought in Pete Smith of Browns Digest to tell me where I went right, wrong, or indifferent.
Cleveland Browns Mock Draft (2023)
3-74: Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina
Pickens is an ascending player that hasn’t quite reached his potential. He has the ability to rush from the inside and has the skill set to hold up as a 5-tech. Pickens has flashed moments of dominance at South Carolina. Is he an upgrade over 2020 3rd-round pick Jordan Elliott? I believe so.
Pete’s Take: Zaach Pickens fits the style of 3T the Browns seem to want. Thrives in creating pressure on the quarterback. Age could be a factor.
3-98: Andre Carter, EDGE, Army
Carter has tremendous tape as a pass rusher and the production to match. However, his lack of play strength was exposed at the Senior Bowl and has continued to carry during the draft process. Carter is a project that the Browns can afford to develop that could pay serious dividends in 2024 and beyond.
Pete’s Take: Andre Carter could be attractive to Jim Schwartz. An athletic edge with that kind of length out in a wide 9 could be worthwhile. Are the Browns willing to wait the length of time it will take for Carter to be playable?
4-111: Tre Tomlinson, CB, TCU
Tomlinson has been an outside corner for the Horned Frogs. His 5’7″ 175-pound frame won’t allow that in the NFL. However, Tomlinson’s athleticism and ball skills tell me he can be a great slot corner and that is something that could help Cleveland.
Pete’s Take: The Browns need to come up with a good answer for the slot. THT could help with that, but it’s fair to question if his lack of size and length will be an issue.
4-126: Zach Evans, RB, Mississippi
How much longer can the Cleveland Browns afford to keep paying Nick Chubb? While still one of the best backs in the league, that contract is a detriment to their salary cap. I know they like second-year RB Jerome Ford. But that doesn’t mean they can’t add another. Evans was a game-breaker at TCU before transferring to Ole Miss. His production dipped in 2022 but his potential is still high.
Pete’s Take: The Browns should be motivated to draft for life after Nick Chubb while simply supplementing him now. With the more spread-out offense the Browns want to implement, it’s simply a matter of tastes, but a power back running against light boxes with smaller defenders could be a good way to go.
5-140: Braeden Daniels, IOL, Utah
Daniels is a great athlete with the capability of backing up multiple positions.
Pete’s Take: Daniels is an easy player to like. Gives everything he has. He’s athletic and could be a great fit as a zone guard. Needs a lot of work, but the Browns have Bill Callahan to coach him.
5-142: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Mississippi
The Browns WR room may be a tough one to crack. However, when you have the chance to draft a 99-percentile athlete this late in the draft you have to do it.
Pete’s Take: Mingo is one of my favorite players in the draft. Ole Miss uses him in so many ways. Could be a slot or F. He is a willing blocker, he makes tough catches over the middle and he’s explosive enough to stretch the field. I would love the pick.
6-190: Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama
The Browns can use another inline TE prospect. Latu had solid production this year for the Crimson Tide.
Pete’s Take: If you view Mingo through the lens of an F, then drafting a true Y in Latu could make sense. The Browns have David Njoku and just signed Jordan Akins. They’re probably going to want a third tight end on a rookie deal.
7-229: Aubrey Miller Jr, LB, Jackson State
Miller is a heat-seeking missile who plays with an attitude. If that doesn’t scream special teams weapon, I don’t know what else does.
Pete’s Take: Miller would provide competition in the linebacker room, but it might be difficult for him to make the roster. Fortunately, he has experience on special teams, which could make a difference.
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