2021 Draft Analysis: Browns 'stayed true to the process' and ramped up versatility across the board


The more you can do.

If you're looking for a one-sentence summation of the Browns' eight-man, 2021 draft class, that might just be the best way to describe it.

Starting with first-round selection of Greg Newsome II and ending with UCLA's Demetric Felton in the sixth round, the Browns added a number of talented, versatile players to a roster already chock full of them at most positions. That versatility component will be vital for a group of rookies that will be guaranteed nothing when they arrive for their first season in the NFL.

"The reality of the situation is all these guys come in and work and have to earn roster spots and earn a role," Browns EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry said. "Quite honestly, we have a lot of work to do before we get to September and the season opener. We are certainly hopeful and excited about the guys we were able to add to the organization but we have a lot of work to do before we reach our ultimate goals this season."

This time last year, Cleveland attacked its deficiencies on offense through free agency and the first round of the draft (Jedrick Wills Jr.) while patching holes on defense with a number of players who signed one-year deals. This year, with the starting offense set to return in full, the Browns attacked the defense, signing six players with starting experience in free agency and welcoming back three key players — DT Andrew Billings, CB Greedy Williams and S Grant Delpit — who were unable to play last year.

As a result, the Browns entered the 2021 draft with as few of noticeable roster holes as they've had in years thanks to the foundational, cornerstone picks Cleveland made in 2017 (Myles Garrett) and 2018 (Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb) and the work Berry and Co. have done over the past year-plus. That allowed the Browns to truly hone in on the top available players who aligned best with what the team hopes to accomplish in 2021 and beyond.

"I think we really went into it to find players that fit their roles within our offensive and defensive systems," Berry said. "Certainly versatility is an added bonus, but really we went with prospects that we thought were No. 1, very talented, and No. 2, had the physical and mental characteristics to execute their responsibilities within our offensive and defensive schemes."

At the top, Newsome provided the perfect mix of a player who was ranked among the best overall in the 2021 class and also filled a position where the Browns could use more depth and competition. Though the Browns added veteran slot CB Troy Hill in free agency, they said goodbye to three key contributors at cornerback from 2020 — Terrance Mitchell, Kevin Johnson and Tavierre Thomas. Newsome will have to earn whatever playing time he receives but the opportunity is there to take on a big role right away if he proves he's ready.

On Day 2, the Browns moved up to No. 52 to put themselves in a scenario they never envisioned when they entered Round 1. Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who was projected by many as a first-round pick and was a player the Browns considered with their first-round selection, gives the defense an athletic, hybrid-style of defender who can hit like a traditional linebacker and guard tight ends and slot receivers like a traditional safety.

Later in the evening, the Browns added a wide receiver, a position at which the Browns are returning all of their major contributors for 2020. But this wide receiver, Auburn's Anthony Schwartz, offers an element of Olympic speed that was missing in a big way last season when Odell Beckham Jr. was lost for the year with a knee injury. Now, the Browns have multiple options for field-stretching, end-arounds and whatever else Kevin Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt can draw up during the next few months.

"He has world-class speed, as you guys know." Stefanski said. "That is a part of his game that we were excited about. That is why he is added to this roster. Let's see again where his role can grow. He is a young player. That is the thing with all of these guys, get them on campus, see what they can handle, move them around, see what they can do and use them in different spots."

Versatility truly came to the forefront on Day 3.

Fourth-round T James Hudson began his college career as a defensive tackle before switching to offense. Now, after one full season of starting under his belt, Hudson will begin his time with the Browns at tackle before taking on some additional responsibilities on the interior.

Ohio State DT Tommy Togiai comes to Cleveland billed as a run-stuffer, but the Browns are intrigued by his potential as someone who can rush the passer. Togiai showed flashes of just that in a standout, three-sack performance a few months ago in a win over Penn State.

Fifth-round LB Tony Fields II recorded a boatload of tackles and big plays over four seasons at Arizona and West Virginia. He fell to the Browns in the fifth round likely due in some part to his size (222 pounds), but the team views him as another kind of player who can help the defense evolve into a unit capable of stopping all of the speed and movement offenses around the league have unleashed in recent years.

"Versatility shows up in this game in terms of alignment, in terms of your job, what you do. You love guys that can pass rush and drop into coverage. I think you see it across rosters these days," Stefanski said. "You want to be able to impact the game in multiple ways and I think at linebacker, certainly the guys we were able to add this weekend — guys that can run, guys that can play the run, guys that can play in pass coverage and zone. I think that is a big key to our success as a defense is having a bunch of guys that can do a bunch of different things."

Fifth-round S Richard LeCounte gives the Browns another versatile option in a safety room that is suddenly deep and dangerous in the wake of Ronnie Harrison Jr.'s emergence, Delpit's return and the signing of John Johnson III.

And then there's Felton, a player so versatile his specific position was a point of debate after his pick announcement. The Browns will start Felton in the RBs room, but he'll look to make an impact all across the offense after catching 99 passes during his career at UCLA.

Felton's selection was a fun, fitting finale for the Browns' 2021 Draft. Now, the work really begins.

"There are 32 teams tonight that are going to be celebrating the draft class, and they are all going to be very excited," Stefanski said. "We are excited because we stayed true to the process but we have to let this thing play out and we will see over the course of years, how we did. But certainly, Andrew, I thought was outstanding just setting the board, conducting these meetings, and then staying true to the board over these rounds."

Here's a full look back at our coverage, including links to everything we produced, of the Browns' 2021 NFL Draft class.

Browns 2021 First Round pick Greg Newsome II tours the Berea Facility on April 30, 2021.

Day 1

Round 1

No. 26 - CB Greg Newsome II (Northwestern)

Day 2

Round 2

No. 52 - LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame)

Check out photos of Browns 2021 third round pick Anthony Schwartz

Round 3

No. 91 - WR Anthony Schwartz (Auburn)

Day 3

Round 4

No. 110 - OT James Hudson (Cincinnati)

No. 132 - DT Tommy Togiai (Ohio State)

Round 5

No. 153 - LB Tony Fields II (Arizona)

Round 6

No. 211 - RB Demetric Felton (UCLA)

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