Browns 2023 NFL mock draft: Way, way, way too early edition

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The dust has settled, just barely, on the 2022 NFL draft. Teams will have rookie minicamps soon and then a slight lull in the offseason before offseason training activities and then training camp commences. Everyone is assuming that they hit a home run with their selections this year but teams are already preparing for next year’s as well.

The Cleveland Browns selected nine players this year and have added, reportedly, at least a dozen undrafted free agents to their roster. A couple of veterans like Jadeveon Clowney and Jarvis Landry also could be signed in the near future.

Today’s 2023 Browns NFL mock draft is not an attempt at predicting anything. It is the first look at some of the players that could be eligible for the draft and, based on current contracts, positions the team could be focusing on. Nothing more.

Pro Football Network has their mock draft simulator up to date for next year already so we used it for today’s exercise. While Cleveland has eight picks scheduled for next year, simulators will only have seven as the compensatory picks do not get assigned officially until after the season ends.

On to the mock:

Second Round - OT Broderick Jones, Georgia

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Jack Conklin is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. While James Hudson III looked better as the year went on, the team may not trust him protecting Deshaun Watson when a player like Jones is available.

A large, nimble human being, Jones could fit Cleveland’s profile.

Fourth Round - TE Arik Gilbert, Georgia

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(Like the first-round pick, the third-round pick went to Houston in the Watson trade and, as noted above, the compensatory pick for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah won’t be assigned until after the 2022 season.)

We just happen to go back to Georgia with this pick. David Njoku has still not signed his franchise tag tender nor a long-term extension. Harrison Bryant has been adequate but the team would like to find more depth there after not spending a draft pick on the position in 2022.

Gilbert is listed as a tight end in most places but also a receiver showing his threat in the passing game. Two Njoku-like tight ends are better than one in today’s NFL.

Fourth Round - S Kenderick Duncan, Louisville

Ronnie Harrison Jr. returns for just one year and John Johnson III would be entering the final year of his contract after 2022. Grant Delpit would also be entering the final year of his rookie contract after this season so adding a safety makes sense here in the fourth round.

Duncan is a coverage safety that can be versatile in Joe Woods’ scheme.

Fifth Round - WR Jalen Cropper, Fresno State

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Even if Landry, or another veteran, comes to the team, it will likely be on a one-year deal. Donovan Peoples-Jones will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2023 and adding weapons will always be a priority.

Cropper has shown versatility as both a receiver, runner and a kick returner in his career. At 6′, 175 pounds, he can play inside and out at the next level.

Fifth Round - CB Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU

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The Browns will always want more corners, period. Greedy Williams will be a free agent at the end of the season. A.J. Green may not be returning as well which would leave Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and Martin Emerson as the main cornerbacks.

We draft two here in a row to help replenish depth.

Hodges-Tomlinson is likely a slot corner at the next level. After trading Troy Hill, Cleveland could use a nice slot corner.

Sixth Round - CB Kris Abrams-Draine, Missouri

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The second corner and the second hyphenated name in a row, Abrams-Draine was a two-way player in high school and has shown skill as a returner as well in college. He is able to play outside at just under 6 feet with a solid frame of 180 pounds.

Cleveland values corners and is likely to take them quite often.

Seventh Round - DE Tyler Batty, BYU

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When in doubt, get after the passer. Jadeveon Clowney could return on a multiyear deal but, until that happens, the Browns will need to continue to add to their edge rusher spot. Chase Winovich is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season.

After drafting two in 2022, the team goes for their type of defensive end. Tall (6’5″) and sturdy (275 pounds) in Batty out of BYU. In his two seasons in college, Batty has 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

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