Daniel Jeremiah has been one of the few draft analysts around the league to predict the Browns to draft an edge rusher with their first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Most mock drafts have predicted the Browns to grab a wide receiver with their 13th overall pick, but not Jeremiah, a former NFL scout and draft analyst for NFL Network. He had Cleveland selecting Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker in his first mock draft and Purdue edge rusher George Karlafits in his second mock draft.
To him, the crop of edge rushers likely to go in the first round is too talented for the Browns to ignore.
"I just put such a premium on edge rush," he said. "As much as I love these receivers you can get, I feel pretty comfortable with being able to get other guys outside of Round 1, if you have to, if you're the Browns."
Jeremiah had seven edge rushers listed in his initial top 50 prospect rankings, although that list certainly will change after the NFL Combine concludes this week in Indianapolis. All seven of the edge rushers, however, were initially ranked inside the top 30, highlighting the high promise Jeremiah sees at the position. He also projected seven edge rushers to be drafted in the first round of his most recent mock draft. Five of them were drafted by pick No. 13.
By comparison, he predicted five receivers to be drafted in the first round and just one, USC's Drake London, being drafted before the 13th pick.
For now, Jeremiah sees Karlaftis as the best edge rusher likely to be available for Cleveland. He posted 4.5 sacks in 2021 and totaled 14 sacks across three college seasons — numbers that aren't nearly as high as some of the other edge rushers in the class — but they don't tell the full picture of Karlaftis' skills.
Jeremiah believes Karlaftis' hype will grow as the draft creeps closer. From what he's heard around the league, his stock has already been on the rise.
"Karlaftis is a legitimate one," he said. "I know it's polarizing, I guess, but just about everybody I talk to in the NFL feels like this is a real high-floor player. I wrote down in the (player) comp that he reminded me of (Eagles DE Ryan) Kerrigan."
He believes the Browns' draft situation could change, though, if they opt to extend Pro Bowl edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who recorded nine sacks last season and enjoyed his best season in the NFL since 2018. Clowney, the 2014 first overall pick, thrived in the same defensive line as Myles Garrett, the 2017 first overall pick, and is among the most notable Browns players who could become a free agent on March 16.
"A lot of it is contingent on what happens with Clowney," Jeremiah said. "He played pretty well last year, so if he's gone to free agency, getting another edge rusher up there I think would be important. That was kind of my thinking there as to why they would do that."
Jeremiah wouldn't fault the Browns for grabbing a receiver, either. He understands the need most analysts see at the position given that the Browns have just three receivers — Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz — currently under contract for 2022.
The draft, meanwhile, has at least three receivers — Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Treylon Burks (Arkansas) and London — that appear poised to land in the top 20. All of them could be available for the Browns at No. 13.
"I don't hate it if they want one of those wide outs," Jeremiah said. "I love Garrett Wilson, so I wouldn't hate that at all. I think I have all three of those wide outs, Treylon Burks up there and Drake London, all three of those guys I think would be great picks.
"It's just a matter of where you want to find the other positions, and most teams, if it's close, they're going to lean towards the edge rusher."