Edge defender rankings may surprise some, some options for Browns

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The NFL draft in Las Vegas is so close that you can almost smell it. (This editor will be on the Vegas strip just before the event after getting to enjoy it last year in Cleveland.)

For the Cleveland Browns, it is clear that a few positions will be the focus early and maybe often in the draft. As we did with the mock draft in our mock offseason, the defensive line, wide receiver and kicking positions should be much of the focus for the team. Then again, GM Andrew Berry doesn’t always think in line with fans and media.

What we know from looking at the team’s current projected 53-man roster is that the defensive line has a total of six players under contract, three interior and three on the edge.

Our friends over at Touchdown Wire posted their final edge defender rankings. In those rankings might come a few surprises, starting with their top two prospects:

  1. Jermaine Johnson, FSU

  2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Aidan Hutchinson, the presumed top edge by many, is the third-ranked player at the position.

The 2021 draft was an interesting one for the edge position. Jaelan Phillips was the first one off the board with the 18th pick with Kwity Paye, Payton Turner, Gregory Rousseau and Odafe Oweh the only others selected in the first round. In 2022, three or four could be selected in the top 10 selections.

For the Browns in the second and third rounds, a few names jump out. The fifth-ranked edge rusher, Joshua Paschal out of Kentucky, is not well known to many but is compared to Emmanuel Ogbah. David Ojabo, as seen in our mock offseason, may fall due to his injury and would be a steal in the second round even if he sits the entire season. While he may lack some size, Nik Bonitto, their ninth-best edge rusher, could be a pass rush specialist right away.

Depending on where he falls, Cameron Thomas, 12th in the rankings, could be a versatile fit for Cleveland.

If Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t re-sign before the draft, Berry could look to add two players early at the edge position. Even if Clowney returns, finding a running mate for Myles Garrett should be a high priority.

After checking out their list, which edge defenders do you think the Browns should target in the second and third rounds?