This is Part 3 of our three-part series on rookie CB Greg Newsome.
Part 1: "Believing I'm the Best"
Before the 2021 NFL Draft began, Dane Brugler believed Greg Newsome II was a dream first-round selection for the Browns.
Brugler, a draft analyst for The Athletic, saw Newsome as both a great fit in the Browns' secondary and a player who could deliver tremendous value — if he were still on the board by the time Cleveland made its first pick at No. 26 overall.
"In my opinion, he's a top 20 prospect in this draft," said Brugler in an interview with "Cleveland Browns Daily" before the draft. "There's a lot to like about Greg Newsome, not only with how he addresses a need, but also how he fits with this defense. He's a young player, still just 20 years old, and there's a lot going for Greg Newsome with what the Browns look for at that position."
The Browns, of course, agreed with Brugler's sentiments.
Cleveland drafted Newsome with its first pick and made the Northwestern cornerback the newest addition to its overhauled defense, one that some believe could become one of the NFL's top units in 2021.
Newsome is one player who could make that label come true, and Brugler believes Newsome can prove it sooner rather than later in his NFL career.
"We're not going to have to wait long to see him," Brugler said in a recent "Browns Breakdowns" video with Nathan Zegura. "Week 1, I bet he's going to be out there and have a prominent role."
Newsome has plenty of attributes that could help him rise quickly up the Browns' depth chart. Most of those skills, however, stem from arguably his biggest strength: speed.
With a 4.38 40-yard dash, Newsome was among the fastest cornerbacks available in the draft. His quickness shows on nearly all of his top college plays, many of which were made in his final season when he led the Big Ten with 10 passes defensed in six games. He's capable of playing anywhere on the field because of his quickness, and he made it nearly impossible for receivers to catch deep passes regardless of the coverage type.
"Because of his athleticism and his versatility, you feel comfortable putting him in any situation," Brugler said. "He's always ball-searching. He's always looking to rake that ball out of there. He didn't have a ton of picks in college, but he's so good at getting his hands on the ball because he knows where the ball is at all times. He doesn't make that contact where he'll draw the flags, and he'll be disruptive."
Sure, Newsome had just one interception at Northwestern, but the play, which came against Wisconsin last year, provided plenty of evidence that Newsome is capable of making turnovers at the next level.
The opposing receiver first appeared as though he was running a quick slant through the middle. After the first few steps, he turned forward to run up the field and cut to the sideline. The route is tricky for a cornerback to identify, particularly if they bite on the initial look of the slant.
Newsome bit, but he didn't get burned. Instead, he quickly turned his hips and accelerated back to the receiver, following him step-by-step until the pass came near the sideline. Newsome stepped in front of him and made the impressive catch.
"This is one of those plays that sold me on Greg Newsome, that (made me think) this guy is big time and ready to be a first-round pick and future NFL starter," Brugler said. "He kept his feet underneath him. The mirroring skills are so, so good. He doesn't panic at any point in this play."
Newsome can hold his own as a tackler, too, which is a trait not all NFL-level cornerbacks possess.
He made plenty of tackles by himself at Northwestern, including a few against running backs. When Newsome attempts a tackle, he knows how to efficiently use all of his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame into bringing down the opponent. The footwork he uses to stick with receivers in coverage shows when he's looking to bring down a tackler in the open field or behind the line of scrimmage, and he doesn't always need additional help from defensive teammates to finish the play.
"He knows when to calm his feet," Brugler said. "He stays under control, he stays centered and then he runs his feet through contact. A lot of corners, they're going to hug here. They're going to wait until they get reinforcements for help.
"But not Newsome. This is how you want your corners to execute. Newsome, he likes to get physical. It's a big part of his game."
The Browns listed plenty of reasons on why they liked Newsome after making him their first pick of the 2021 draft.
He has versatility to fit multiple holes in the secondary. He's fast enough to stick with many of the top receivers in the game. He knows how to make an open-field tackle.
What more could you want out of a cornerback?
Receivers are going to have a tough time when Newsome is in coverage, and that's why Brugler believes the Browns won't need to wait long to find returns on their first-round pick.
"The No. 1 job of a corner: stay in phase," he said. "That's what he's able to do so often, and that's why we'll see him on the field pretty early for the Browns."