The Cleveland Browns own the 74th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. After that, they have just seven more picks to go. There are many ways these picks can go, of course, but they could surely use more depth on their roster. Here we’ll look at three bold predictions for the Browns in the 2023 NFL Draft, including drafting Keeanu Benton.
The Browns will have eight picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, their first pick is in the middle of the third round due to their acquisition of Deshaun Watson in the 2022 offseason. This puts pressure on Browns GM Andrew Berry to maximize their picks. Still, having multiple selections in Rounds 3-5 and one pick each in Rounds 6 and 7 is a decent number. The Browns may not have early picks, but they can still improve their team with the depth of the 2023 NFL Draft class.
To make the most of their limited draft capital, the Browns have tried to address as many issues as possible before the draft. This will allow them to focus on adding as much talent as possible during the draft. Although rookies may earn playing time, the Browns are not expecting as much from them as in previous years. They selected kicker Cade York in the fourth round last year but also had contributions from rookies like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Greg Newsome II.
The Browns are starting to select players for depth that will hopefully head off some needs in the future. While some positions like slot corner could allow a faster path to the field, the Browns are not relying heavily on their rookies this year. Despite the lack of a first-round pick, the Browns still have the opportunity to improve their team and benefit from the depth of this year’s rookie crop.
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Let’s look at three bold predictions for the Browns in the draft.
1. Browns prioritize bolstering defense
In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Browns could use their third-round pick to address one of the unsettled positions on their roster. Specifically, they should draft Keeanu Benton, a defensive tackle from Wisconsin. Benton has experience as a starter and is known for his ability to stop the run. With his size, talent, and non-stop motor, he would be a valuable addition to the Browns’ defensive line. This should also allow players like Myles Garrett and Dalvin Tomlinson to make explosive plays.
Watch Keeanu Benton (#95) just bully two NFL players to sack Jack Coan. pic.twitter.com/eBNHY8TmQM
— John Vogel (@DraftVogel) August 29, 2022
To replace the injured Ronnie Harrison, the Browns also need a versatile safety who can play nickel or either safety position. Enter Jammie Robinson from Florida State. He could fill that role, although he needs to work on his technique and angles. Robinson has the potential to be a playmaker in a defense that allows him to move around. He could be available in the fourth round.
Finally, Byron Young is a decent pass rusher and could play a rotational role on the Browns’ defensive line. However, his strength and speed will determine if he can become a starting defensive tackle in the NFL. While he lacks size, he competes hard in run defense and maintains his position. Despite being a 7th-round pick, Young could still provide value to the Browns especially as he likely falls to the seventh round.
2. Browns take some pass-catchers
Adding WR Parker Washington from Penn State to their receiving corps could be a wise choice for the Browns in the third round of the draft. He would fit well in the slot and offer added insurance in case of injuries or free agency losses in the future. Washington is a talented player who can turn short gains into long ones with his running back-like build and skills.
Another option for the Browns would be drafting BYU’s Puka Nacua, a wide receiver with strong contested pass-catching abilities and impressive run-after-catch skills. Although he needs further development, he has the potential to become a starting wide receiver in the NFL and could make an immediate impact as a role player for the Browns. Nacua could still be available in the sixth round.
Lastly, to add more competition for a roster spot, the Browns could consider drafting rookie tight end Luke Schoonmaker. He has strong blocking skills and can work well underneath coverages. Schoonmaker can also line up as an H-back in pistol sets and motion into the slot. He could be a valuable addition to the Browns’ tight end group and could provide opportunities for success. We project that Schoonmaker will go in the fifth round.
3. Browns draft two running backs
The Browns also need to bolster their backfield. Nick Chubb is the undisputed RB1, but they have already lost D’Ernest Johnson. Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt might be on the move, too. Still, they have an opportunity to add DeWayne McBride to their running back room in the upcoming draft. He would be the best non-defensive lineman available in the fourth round and could prove to be a valuable addition. McBride surely would fill a need for the Browns. He had an impressive 1,702 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns at UAB last season, which has increased his draft stock.
Deuce Vaughn is another productive running back, though his size could be a concern in the NFL. However, he compensates with his strong build, pass protection, and route-running abilities. In the Big 12, he had more than 3,000 rushing yards and scored 43 total touchdowns. The Browns have space in their backfield and could benefit from Vaughn’s skills, depending on how they choose to utilize him. Despite his size being a potential risk, Vaughn would be a low-risk pick for the Browns in the fifth round of the draft.