As expected, the Cleveland Browns’ season was a throwaway year with the 11-game suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns finished 7-10 and last in the AFC North. The defense underachieved for most of the season, leading to the firing of defensive coordinator Joe Woods.
Cleveland must address several areas to leap into the playoff hunt next season. The Browns must find some late-round gems in the 2023 NFL Draft, as they do not have a first-round pick until 2025 due to the Watson trade.
Let’s check the latest NFL picks, stats, injury reports, and NFL predictions. We’ve plenty of NFL expert picks for you to consider.
2022 Season Record: 7-10
Status of Coach: Kevin Stefanski – Safe
Positions of Need
- Defensive line
- Wide receiver
Notable Draft Picks
- Round 2, Pick 43
- Round 3, Pick 99
Potential Second-Round Targets
The Browns’ defense had the potential to be one of the league’s best in the 2022 season. Instead, Cleveland finished 20th in allowed points per game and 25th in surrendered rushing yards per game. Defensive tackle looks like the biggest need. This has been the Browns’ weakest defensive group for a couple of seasons, and it was exceptionally bad in 2022.
Defensive tackle Siaki Ika could be atop Cleveland’s second-round wish list. Outside of potential top-10 picks Jalen Carter (Georgia) and Bryan Bresee (Clemson), Ika is the next-best interior defensive lineman in the 2023 class. He can eat blocks at 6-foot-4, 358 pounds, and Ika has good agility for his size and can provide pressure as a three-technique.
(3/3) Ika isn’t quite that level of prospect, but he has the potential to be a game wrecker. At the very least he will enter the league as a high-effort player with a ridiculous frame. Coaches have to be drooling over his raw tools
Can’t wait for him to be at the @seniorbowl pic.twitter.com/oHcJ7kAu84
— Andrew Little (@little_andrew_3) December 29, 2022
Florida defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr. is another potential target. At 6-foot-6, Dexter provides elite length on the inside with good quickness. Like Ika, the Florida product typically wins with power and can consistently take on blocks against the run.
A defensive end is another big need, as Jadeveon Clowney will enter free agency. Felix Anudike–Uzomah (Kansas State) could be a good fit as a 6-foot-4 edge. His length and power stand out, as he can consistently win with bull rushes. Anudike–Uzomah would also help against the run, which the Browns desperately need.
The defensive line should be Cleveland’s priority in the second round, whether it be a tackle or edge rusher.
Potential Third-Round Targets
Safety, wide receiver, and linebacker are other positions of need. The Browns have several safeties who can play in the box, but they lack a rangy free safety that can make plays on the ball. Cleveland also needs a third wideout, as Amari Cooper (1,160 yards) and Donovan Peoples-Jones (839 yards) led the receiving production by a wide margin. Linebackers Deion Jones, Sione Takitaki, and Anthony Walker Jr. are all free agents, making this another position that must be addressed.
The Browns should have several options late in the third round with their compensatory selection. Georgia safety Christopher Smith is an intriguing option who performs well in coverage and would bring good ball skills. Boise State safety JL Skinner could be a good fit as well. He has exceptional length at 6-foot-4 and is a thumper against the run, but he can also make plays on the ball with his rangy frame.
Cleveland could use a slot receiver, which Penn State’s Parker Washington could fill. Washington is a good deep threat with reliable hands and can excel after the catch. At linebacker, Auburn’s Owen Pappoe has an enticing upside with his freakish athleticism that plays well against the run and pass.