It's been a while since we cracked open the Browns Mailbag.
Have we missed anything over the past few weeks? Can one of you catch us up on everything that happened since the last one?
There's not enough Internet space to do it, but we'll do our best getting back on our feet and tackling three of your questions to send you into April with your first Browns Mailbag of the spring.
Myles Garrett is an immensely talented defensive end, and his football career is likely to culminate with a ceremony in nearby Canton, OH. With that said, he shouldn't be expected to provide the defense's entire pass rush on his own. How likely is it for the Browns to add more defensive ends and/or defensive tackles to support Myles and ultimately optimize his effectiveness? — Nick D., Glendale, Arizona
Considering the state of the current roster, it's a very, very safe bet the Browns will have a number of new faces at defensive end and defensive tackle in the coming months. Remember last year? We were having similar discussions about the lack of bodies at defensive tackle. And then, well, the Browns seemingly added four or five in a two-week span, and the position was full and solid throughout the 2021 season. For now, it's clear the Browns need some more players on the defensive line, and this year's current needs include both the ends and tackles.
At the moment, the Browns have three defensive ends on the roster — Garrett, Curtis Weaver and Chase Winovich. They have three defensive tackles — Jordan Elliott, Tommy Togiai and Taven Bryan. Typically by training camp, the Browns are eight-deep at both spots.
So, where do they get those players? Even though we're a couple of weeks into the new league year, it likely will be a mix of free agents and rookies that help fill out the rooms.
Let's start with the free agents. Believe it or not, there are still a lot of players on the market. This is the less glamorous side of free agency that is always running in the background. Last year, the Browns added a player like Jadeveon Clowney just a couple of weeks before the draft and signed Malik McDowell, who turned into an every-game starter, after the draft. Clowney, for what it's worth, is among the best-available free agents on the market, and there's a number of other veteran pass rushers still looking for their 2022 teams. It's a little thinner at defensive tackle, but there's still roster-worthy players who will fill out rosters over the next weeks and months.
And then there's the draft, where the Browns always seem to grab a player or two to add depth on the defensive line. Last year, it was Togiai, who saw his playing time increase during the second half of the year. The year before, it was Elliott, who has been a cog in the rotation since the start of his NFL career. Yes, the Browns no longer have a first-round pick, but they still carry seven selections, including three on Day 2. There are good players from those rounds who will make an impact in games this season, and it wouldn't be surprising at all if the Browns utilize one or more of those selections on the defensive line.
Optimally, we can still acquire a player who could compete for a starting position or add crucial depth at pick No. 44 in this year's draft. Which position group among this year's draft prospects offers the most high-end talent, potentially leading to the second-round availability of a player that could make a significant impact on our roster? — Nick D., Glendale, Arizona
Unlike 2021 — when there was a shortage of pass rushers from start to finish — the 2022 class appears to be absolutely loaded. It starts with Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux, both of whom could be top-five selections, but it will continue throughout the rest of the first round and well into Day 2. Some names to keep in mind, especially when it pertains to the Browns at No. 44: Nik Bonnito (Oklahoma), Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina), Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati), Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State) and Cam Thomas (San Diego State). It's good when you can come up with a name or two at a specific position in the second round, but we were just able to come up with five.
Another loaded position to monitor on Day 2 is wide receiver. Yes, we spent multiple months talking about all of the talented wide receivers the Browns could get at No. 13 and yes, all of those players are probably well out of reach at No. 44. Alas, there is talent aplenty beyond the first round, and it's headlined by the likes of Christian Watson (North Dakota State), George Pickens (Georgia), Alec Pierce (Cincinnati), Skyy Moore (Western Michigan) and Jahan Dotson (Penn State). Another five names. That's a good thing.
Now that the Watson trade has been completed and the Browns do not have a first-round pick, what position do you think we will target? Is it possible to trade back into the first round? — Scott R., Marion
The two I highlighted in the above answer are a good place to start but are by no means a given. It's safe to say the Browns will be open to pretty much anything position-wise in the second round and will go after the best player available at No. 44.
As for trading back into the first round, the Browns haven't completely ruled it out. Asked earlier this week at NFL Owners Meetings, EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry said, "you never know" when asked about the possibility.
"I think we can have an educated guess on whether some of the players won't be available to us by 44," Berry said. "But by the same token, we want to make sure that we complete the work on all the prospects who are on our front board."