Cleveland Browns Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame - Round 2
The Browns entered the 2021 NFL Draft needing help at linebacker, and for a lot of the Spring, I had Owusu-Koramoah or Kentucky's Jamin Davis mocked to Cleveland. It made a lot of sense for the Browns to add a fast linebacker because their pass coverage has been a weakness in the middle of the field and they play in a division in which they could use a skilled linebacker to spy on mobile quarterbacks like Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Cincinnati's Joe Burrow. Thus, Owusu-Koramoah made was a logical second-round pick for the Browns.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Owusu-Koramoah should be a nice asset in the NFL to cover tight ends running vertically down the middle of the field or running backs leaking out of the backfield, and he also should be a good defender to help with receivers crossing the middle of the field. On top of being able to cover up receivers, Owusu-Koramoah has good ball skills for a linebacker, possessing an ability to take the ball away. He is smart and instinctive to get in throwing lanes and disrupt passes. Owusu-Koramoah's pass-coverage ability is his best trait, and he should be an asset in coverage quickly in his NFL career.

Owusu-Koramoah has sideline-to-sideline speed for run defense, and he is a skilled open-field tackler. With his speed and vision, Owusu-Koramoah does a very good job of shutting down perimeter runs and keeping backs from hurting his defense in space. He shows quality technique as a tackler as well and is very good in pursuit, displaying an ability to work through trash and hunt down ball-carriers.

In the ground game, Owusu-Koramoah could struggle against NFL offensive linemen. He's the size of a strong safety, so he will need to get better at taking and shedding blocks. He isn't a fit for middle linebacker and will be need to be a Will linebacker. Owusu-Koramoah could get into trouble if he has to take on a lot of pro offensive linemen, so his NFL defensive coordinator will need to be strategic to keep him running free and not having to face as many blocks. He could also stand to get stronger for taking on NFL offensive lineman and tackling pro backs.

Owusu-Koramoah enters his rookie training camp in a competition with Jacob Phillips for the Will linebacker spot. Over time, Owusu-Koramoah should win that job because he offers rarer ability in pass coverage and the NFL is a passing-driven league. He could develop into a solid starter for Cleveland before long.

2020: Jordan Elliott, DT
2019: Mack Wilson, LB
2018: Denzel Ward, CB
2017: David Njoku, TE
2016: Carl Nassib, DE
2015: Danny Shelton, DT
2014: Justin Gilbert, CB
2013: Leon McFadden, CB

Most Likely To Bust

Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn - Round 3
With Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry coming back for 2021, the wide receiver position was not a pressing need for Cleveland. The organization, however, could move on from Beckham and/or Landry in the near future, so it made sense to take a wide receiver who can develop behind them and provide some depth in case of injury. Schwartz is a good speed receiver, but some sources from other NFL teams felt he was overrated and more of third-day talent given his route-running and overall receiving ability.

For the NFL, Schwartz could be a one-trick pony deep-shot receiver who struggles to be a consistent enough to work at all levels. That gives him the highest bust potential of the Browns' early-round picks. It would not surprise if Schwartz tops out as just a rotational backup and a player who lacks an ability to develop into a starter.

2020: Grant Delpit, S
2019: Sione Takitaki, LB
2018: Antonio Callaway, WR
2017: Jabrill Peppers, S
2016: Corey Coleman, WR
2015: Xavier Cooper, DT
2014: Christian Kirksey, LB
2013: Barkevious Mingo, LB

Potential Boom Pick

Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern - Round 1
There were a number of teams that were reportedly targeting Newsome in the first round before the Browns ended his fall with the 26th-overall pick. While Newsome carries some durability risk, there is no doubt about his talents as cover corner who could become an excellent pro if he is able to stay healthy.

Newsome (6-1, 190) is a tall corner with long arms, quick feet, speed and physicality. He can match up with speed receivers and blanket them in and out of their breaks. Routinely, he runs the routes with receivers and prevents them from getting separation. Newsome has quick feet and is agile. He can flip his hips open and run with receivers down the field while using his long frame to make it difficult to get passes around him. Newsome also is is tall and physical for taking on big receivers. He will be an asset in the red zone for Cleveland and is able to win the 50-50 throws. As a pure cover corner, Newsome has No. 1 potential.

In the ground game, Newsome is a good contributor as he is a willing tackler who will come downhill and pack a punch. Newsome is comfortable playing near the tackle box and shows aggressiveness to make some plays in the backfield. As a pro, he is going to be appreciated by his coaches for his ability and willingness to defend the run. But that is a blessing and a curse. While Newsome is very physical and throws his body around, he suffered a lot of injuries already and one has to worry if he can stick in the NFL with that style of play.

Team sources said the big knock on Newsome was durability. With his repeated injuries at Northwestern, many scouts have serious doubts whether Newsome can stay healthy in the NFL. His pro day was a surprise to evaluators. Sources who were there said he ran faster than expected in the 40, but was not as fluid and did not look as good as expected in the field drills. They feel Newsome can be grabby and a bit overly physical, so cutting down on that would reduce penalties in the NFL.

Fortunately for Newsome, he landed with a team that does not need him to be a No. 1 corner because Cleveland already has Denzel Ward in place. Newsome will draw the No. 2 receivers, and that could help him greatly in his transition to the NFL. As a No. 2 corner, Newsome has serious boom=pick potential for Cleveland provided he can avoid injury.

2020: Jedrick Wills, OT
2019: Greedy Williams, CB
2018: Nick Chubb, RB
2017: Myles Garrett, DE
2016: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE
2015: Cam Erving, C
2014: Johnny Manziel, QB
2013: Jamoris Slaughter, S

Future Depth Player

Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia - Round 5
With Grant Delpit coming off a season-ending injury that cost him his rookie season, it made sense for the Browns to select some safety depth in the 2021 NFL Draft. LeCounte was an excellent value in the fifth round because he was a really good player in college. With his big-play ability, instincts, and discipline in coverage, LeCounte was one of the more consistent and reliable safeties in the SEC over the past few seasons. While he does not have great size or speed, he is a natural football player who could be valuable backup and special teams contributor. It would not surprise if LeCounte provides good depth behind John Johnson and Delpit while also being a core special teams contributor.

2020: Jacob Phillips, LB
2019: Sheldrick Redwine, S
2018: Chad Thomas, DE
2017: Larry Ogunjobi, DT
2016: Cody Kessler, QB
2015: Duke Johnson, RB
2014: Pierre Desir, CB
2013: Garrett Gilkey, OT

Walt's 2021 NFL Draft Grades:

26. Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern - B Grade
Anything in the back seven would've made sense for the Browns. They need linebacker help to deal with Lamar Jackson and cornerback upgrades to cover all of Pittsburgh's receivers. They opted for Greg Newsome over Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, which is fine. I had Newsome pegged in this area, and he figures to be a solid No. 2 cornerback across from Denzel Ward.

52. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame - A Grade
I slotted Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to the Browns in the first round, so I love this value. That said, I'm not surprised Owusu-Koramoah slipped. Some would say he doesn't have a natural position, so after Isaiah Simmons' struggles last year, teams may have been worried about Owusu-Koramoah's translation to the NFL. However, he's a great athlete and should be able to help Cleveland defend Lamar Jackson.

91. Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn - D Grade
I liked Cleveland's draft up until this point. Anthony Schwartz isn't a football player. He's a track athlete trying to play football. Perhaps he'll develop into a football player, but he's a huge project. I thought he would go in the fifth or sixth round.

110. James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati - A Grade
The Browns' great draft continues. I consistently mocked James Hudson in the second or third round, so this is incredible value. It doesn't fill a major need at all, but the Browns are getting one of the top players available to fill depth on the offensive line. Just ask the Chiefs how important offensive line depth can be!

132. Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State - B+ Grade
The Browns lost Sheldon Richardson, so it makes sense that they would address the trenches with this selection. I've had Tommy Togiai slotted in this range, so this is a solid choice for the Browns, who are having a great draft.

153. Tony Fields, LB, West Virginia - B+ Grade
Here's another linebacker for the Browns to help neutralize Lamar Jackson. Tony Fields is an undersized player, and he's not very athletic, but he was very productive at West Virginia. I had him in the fourth round in some updates.

169. Richard LeCounte, S, Georgia - C Grade
Richard LeCounte was a productive player in Georgia as a tackling machine. The problem is that he's small and very unathletic, so he may not translate into the pros, unfortunately. He may have to be relegated to special teams.

211. Demetric Felton, RB/WR, UCLA - B- Grade
Demetric Felton is versatile threat who is moving from running back to receiver. There's some questions about whether he can do that, and his upside is questioned, but Felton could end up being the Browns' third running back. This is an OK pick, but Felton could have trouble making the roster.

2021 NFL Draft Team Grade: A-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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