CLEVELAND, Ohio — The NFL Combine may not change minds, but it should clarify opinions on some prospects and create some questions about others.
Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson had a Goldilocks Combine when it came to his chances of becoming a Cleveland Brown. It was just right. Not too hot to rise up draft boards and definitely out of range of pick No. 13. Not too cold to make anyone doubt where he’d be worth the 13th pick for the Browns.
I feel better about Wilson’s chances of becoming a Brown after the combine than I did before, and I was 50-50 heading to Indianapolis. Wilson ran a 4.38 40 which was plenty fast. He measured in at just under 6-feet and at 183 pounds, which was 9 pounds lighter than he was listed at Ohio State. So a little smaller than expected. But his hands measured big and his wingspan was long for a guy his height. He caught passes well and his jumps and agility drills were good, but not great.
Perfect for Cleveland. He’s smart and the Browns know that and like that. So he’s back as my pick for the Browns in this third version of a mock draft.
Ashley Bastock, Dan Labbe, Mary Kary Cabot and I will continue to do a Browns mock draft every week leading up to the end of April as our opinions evolve. We have each done two, but we took last week off while at the combine reporting and observing. Now it’s time to put what we gathered to mock use again.
Here is what I think the Browns should and could do with their first four picks in Rounds 1-3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Last draft: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Four guys now have my focus for this spot, and only two of them are receivers. Previously I said I couldn’t imagine how a position other than receiver would best serve the Browns in the first round. But the idea of an edge rusher (in a deep crop of edge rushers) in Round 1, and then a receiver in Round 2 also has a lot of appeal.
The four for me now are Wilson and USC receiver Drake London, and Georgia’s Travon Walker and Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson as edge rushers. There’s a chance all are gone by 13, but I doubt it. Walker at this spot and then a receiver in Round 2 is quite interesting.
But it also may be a fairly simple choice here. If Wilson is available, he should be the guy.
Last draft: S Daxton Hill, Michigan
The Georgia defensive tackles showed some crazy speed and agility for their size at the combine. That’s why Devonte Wyatt, a popular second-round choice for the Browns, probably needs to be forgotten. I said that in my last mock before the draft and the combine reinforced that — he’s a first-round pick.
But Winfrey profiles in a similar way. He’s a pass rusher from the interior of the defensive line, but he said at the combine that Oklahoma played him out of position at nose tackle. So don’t go by his production with the Sooners. Go by his traits. He measured at almost 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, and still ran a 4.89 40.
He’d go right into the defensive tackle rotation as an aid to the pass rush.
Honestly, I considered going with another receiver here and doubling up. The idea of pairing Georgia’s bigger George Pickens with Wilson is appealing, and there are other very good Round 2 receivers that would help the Browns as well. I expect to revisit second-round receivers in future mocks
Last draft: CB Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
I wrote about Paschal, who was a three-time captain at Kentucky and a run stopper. He measured at almost 6-3 and 268 pounds at the combine, with testing that produced a good athletic score. He’s not in the top tier of edge guys, but he’s firmly in the next group, with the kind of personality the Browns would like. He’s been a popular selection for some Browns mocks at this spot, and I would imagine that continues.
Last draft: TE Charlie Kolas, Iowa State
This isn’t drafting the next Baker Mayfield for the Browns, it’s drafting the next Case Keenum. Zappe is probably no better than the seventh-best QB in this draft, behind Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell, Kenny Pickett and Carson Strong.
I’m still intrigued by Ridder, the QB I had the Browns trading into the back of the first round for in my initial mock draft. That idea still gets me fired up. But Zappe is the last of the QBs before what feels like a dropoff, so he could make sense here as the first QB drafted by the Browns since Mayfield in 2018.
He completed more than 1,200 passes in college, chucking it around at Houston Baptist for three seasons and Western Kentucky last year. He’s known for his ball placement and accuracy, which was supposed to be Mayfield’s strength coming out of college. I’d like the Browns to get someone besides Mayfield or Keenum on the roster now who could be on the roster in 2023 if things don’t work out with Mayfield.
I think there’s some small chance Zappe could be an NFL starter, but a reliable, accurate backup on the roster who could help replace Keenum and start learning the offense is a reasonable use of a late third-rounder in my mind.
Previous Browns Mock Drafts
Doug Lesmerises Mock Draft 2
Ashley Bastock Mock Draft 2
Dan Labbe Mock Draft 2
Mary Kay Cabot Mock Draft
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism