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Browns bullish on three Oklahoma draft picks

The Browns pegged three players out of Norman, Oklahoma, on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft


Andrew Berry didn't enter the 2022 NFL Draft with intentions of selecting multiple players from any designated school. 

The draft board is simply too tough to predict to formulate such a plan. The Browns, though, departed the draft with three players from one school — Oklahoma — out of their nine-man draft class, in DT Perrion Winfrey (108th overall), WR Michael Woods II (202) and DE Isaiah Thomas (223). Each player from the Sooners, who went 11-2 last year and finished the season ranked 10th in the nation, addressed one of the top three positional needs the Browns appeared to have on their roster heading into the draft.

Berry, the Browns' Executive VP of Football Ops and GM, said he didn't realize the Browns had pegged three Sooners until he walked from his office on the second floor of CrossCountry Mortgage Campus downstairs to the Dino Lucarelli Media Room for his post-draft press conference.

"Someone mentioned it to me when I was coming down," he said with a chuckle. "I don't even think it necessarily hit my brain at that time. It just happens to be an interesting coincidence."

Check out photos of Browns front office staff and coaches working during the 2022 NFL Draft at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus

Training camp will reveal how each of the Oklahoma draftees will fit into the roster, but it's a safe bet that Winfrey — one of the top-ranked defensive tackles of the draft class — will have the best opportunity at carving the biggest rookie role.

Winfrey collected six sacks in two seasons while in Norman, including 5.5 last season, and has the tools to at least capture a rotational role early in the season. At 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, he plays with the kind of reckless abandon that fares well for interior linemen looking to shove their way to the quarterback or end a run play behind the line of scrimmage.

He certainly has no shortage of energy, either. That was evident in his introductory Zoom call.

"I expected to go early, but to be honest, I needed this," Winfrey said. "This was a wake-up call, and this gave me all of the fuel and all of the fire I needed to come into the league and dominate, so I would not change a thing."

The Browns appreciated that energy as they conducted their pre-draft evaluations of Winfrey, and they expect it to help him grow as he enters a competition with Taven Bryan, Tommy Togiai, Jordan Elliott and Sheldon Day for snaps in the rotation.

"Perrion is an extremely passionate guy," Director of Player Personnel Dan Saganey said. "I think you guys are going to love him. I think the Dawg Pound is going to love him. He is a high-energy player all day, and he loves football. We are really excited to add him to the room, to the roster and to see him out there at practice every day."

Woods and Thomas, two late Day 3 picks, arrive in Cleveland under slightly different circumstances — they don't quite have as short of a path toward a role with consistent snaps, but they were still drafted for a reason. The Browns believe they can eventually become quality depth pieces as they attain snaps at the NFL level.

Woods, a three-year starter at Arkansas before he transferred to Oklahoma his senior year, totaled 1,648 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He caught 35 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns as a senior and earned an invite to the 2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

The Athletic's Dane Brugler ranked Woods as the 44th best receiver of the draft class in his annual draft guide, “The Beast.”

"Woods has a long, slender frame with some build-up speed to stack coverage on vertical patterns," Brugler wrote. "He uses his length to reach back or snatch the ball outside of his frame, but focus drops plagued him during his career."

Thomas, the second edge rusher the Browns picked after they drafted Alex Wright in the third round, positioned himself to be drafted after leading the Sooners in sacks the last two seasons. He accrued 8.5 in 2020 and eight in 2021, leading him to Second Team All-Big 12 honors the last two seasons. At 6-foot-4 and 266 pounds, Thomas also has the size and frame needed at the position at the NFL level.

Another notable tidbit about Thomas: He's the oldest player Berry has selected of the 23 players he's drafted so far as a Browns GM. Thomas is only 23 and far from "old," but Berry's front office has made a habit of drafting younger players.

"Age is important, but it's not the only thing," Berry said with a laugh. "It all factors into it. We are not age purists as everyone may believe. We really do want good football players."

The Browns believe they received a crop of them from one spot — Norman.

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