The Browns on Thursday selected Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II with the No. 26 pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Newsome, a 6-foot, 192-pound Chicago native, was a first-team Big Ten selection and a third-team All-American after a 2020 season in which he allowed just a 31.6 percent completion rate to throws in his direction, per Pro Football Focus. In a shortened season, Newsome led the Big Ten with 10 passes defensed and did not allow a completion on third down. He recorded his first career interception in Northwestern's 17-7 upset victory over No. 10 Wisconsin.
"He was one of the guys that we targeted throughout the draft process. I think he fits really our profile for the Cleveland Browns," Browns EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry said. "He was a player who was really a multi-year producer in a Power Five conference. Great physical talent. He is one of the youngest guys in the draft class, despite how much he accomplished at the college level, and he fits the smart tough accountable profile that we want out of our players that we really bring in the building. We are excited to add him to the team."
Newsome, 20, started four games as a true freshman and took on a full-time starting role as a sophomore. Newsome finished second in the Big Ten in 2019 with 11 passes defensed. He missed a handful of games in each of his three seasons — injuries Newsome chalked up to bad luck that won't hinder him as he begins his NFL career with the Browns.
"One of the things that appealed to us about Greg was that we thought he was one of the more well-rounded corners in the class," Berry said. "Obviously, he has the size, length and speed that probably every team wants at the position, but he is a guy who can play press effectively. They played a heavy dose of zone and off man at Northwestern, which he was able to do effectively and he makes plays on the ball. And even then, he is tough and runs, of course. So, what we liked is that from our perspective, there was not a major discernible hole within his skill set and he has a high level of competency across all areas that we value at the cornerback position."
On a night full of offensive players landing with teams in the top half of the draft, Cleveland selected the ninth defensive player of the night. Newsome was the fourth cornerback selected, trailing Jaycee Horn (eighth), Patrick Surtain Jr. (ninth) and Caleb Farley (22nd).
"I still hold myself at a high standard," Newsome said. "I still believe that I am the best corner in the draft. Cleveland picked me for a reason and everything happens for a reason. God put me in this place to go to Cleveland. I am ready to give my all to Cleveland every single day and that fan base. I can not wait to get to Cleveland and get ready to work."
The Browns will be back on the clock Friday with three picks: No. 57 in the second round and Nos. 89 and 91 in the third round.