It's the last Browns Mailbag of the 2021 NFL league year.
Oh my, how the time flies.
We're answering three of your questions before we head into a BIG week of NFL news.
I'm against drafting a WR at 13. There will be one in the second or third rounds. The Browns need some help on the defensive line, edge or linebacker. You will not win without defense. Look at the Packers, Cowboys, Seahawks. What do you think? — Ron C., Milwaukee
Though there's an endless list of mock drafts that have the Browns taking a wide receiver at No. 13, I don't necessarily think you're alone in your sentiment about waiting to take a wide receiver on Day 2 or later. There's a plausible line of thinking, too, as this year's overall class of wide receivers is considered to be chock full of depth. Players with first-round caliber talent probably will be available well into Day 2. Second- and third-round caliber players probably will be available well into Day 3. It's definitely something a general manager has to consider, but it's typically not something that will draw someone away from a player atop the draft board. For example: There was a lot of WR depth in last year's draft, and the Bengals didn't hesitate to grab Ja'Marr Chase with the No. 5 pick. That turned out OK for them.
That said, if the Browns do wait until the second round or later to address the wide receiver position, there are a bevy of promising options. Let's assume five — Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Treylon Burks and Jameson Williams — go in the first round. That next batch is led by the likes of Western Michigan's Skyy Moore, who broke 26 tackles last year (per Pro Football Focus), Penn State's Jahan Dotson (91 catches, 1,182 yards, 12 TDs in 2021) and South Alabama's Jalen Tolbert (82 catches, 1,474 yards, 8 TDs in 2021). There's also high-upside players such as Georgia's George Pickens, who missed most of 2021 with a torn ACL and Clemson's Justyn Ross, who is recovering from foot surgery.
There's a lot to like among the Day 2 and 3 wide receivers, and the Browns very well could use one of their eight Day 2 and 3 selections on the position. The depth is something that will be recognized but likely won't directly impact what direction the team goes with the No. 13 overall pick.
Njoku played in 16 games last season, catching 36 passes for 475 yards with a team-high four receiving touchdowns. The 2017 first round pick recorded the longest reception by a tight end in 2021 after a 71-yard touchdown grab at the Chargers on Oct. 10. Njoku has appeared in 65 career games and recorded 148 receptions for 1,754 yards and 15 touchdowns.
No doubt we need WR and D-Line players this offseason! I really like DE Travon Walker in Rd. 1 and Rd. 2 picking DT Perrion Winfrey! Two guys that would anchor the D-Line for years to come with Myles! The WR position is loaded & deep after seeing the NFL Combine, who could we go after in Rd. 3, maybe with both picks at WR? — Philip H., Saint Clairsville
Let's keep talking about wide receivers!
NFL.com's Chad Reuter was brave enough to put out a three-round mock draft, and he included five wide receivers in the third round — David Bell (Purdue), Calvin Austin III (Memphis), John Metchie (Alabama), Christian Watson (North Dakota State) and Wan'Dale Robinson (Kentucky). Perhaps one of the most notable from that group is Metchie, who comes from the NFL wide receiver factory Alabama has established. Metchie suffered a torn ACL in the SEC Championship but is hoping to be ready to roll by as early as June. He has been lauded by draft analysts for his route-running and knack for getting open. The pedigree is certainly there, and he could be a solid addition late on Day 2.
Now let's talk about Walker for a second. Before the Combine, Walker was routinely projected as a player that could go as high as No. 13 to the Browns or a little later in the first round. Now, after eye-opening performances in most of the on-field drills, Walker is being projected as high as No. 3 overall. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler was one of those who left Indianapolis very high on the versatile Georgia pass rusher.
Wrote Brugler: "My No. 6 overall player entering the combine, Walker made a believer out of the doubters with his remarkable workout on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium."
I'm also a fan of Winfrey, who I predicted to be the Browns' pick in the second round in our ClevelandBrowns.com Mock Draft 1.0. Winfrey was a standout performer at the Senior Bowl and could certainly help bolster the Browns' depth in the middle of their defensive line.
Can you give me the reasoning for franchise tagging David Njoku? — Rick V., Cleveland
Njoku, as Berry said a couple of weeks ago at the NFL Combine, has "played really good football for us over the past five years." Though his numbers didn't quite reach the levels he hit in 2018 — when he set career highs in receptions (56) and yards (639) — Njoku had arguably one of his best seasons with the Browns in 2021. He's continued to improve as a blocker and he showed off his big-play skill set throughout the year, particularly when posted the longest catch by an NFL tight end (71 yards) in the Browns' Week 5 loss to the Chargers. Tight ends are very important to the Browns' offense, and Njoku is an integral member of the group.
By placing the franchise tag on Njoku, who was poised to hit free agency, the Browns have Njoku locked in for a sixth season and have the opportunity to make it longer over the next few months if the team and the player agree to a contract extension. The deadline for franchise tagged players to sign extensions is July 15.
In January, Njoku expressed a desire to return to the Browns, and that's exactly what he'll be doing in 2022.
"I love it here. I love it here to the core," Njoku said. "I honestly want to be here for the rest of my career."