It's a light year for defensive tackles, but there's still a first-round prospect or two who could be in the mix when the Browns are on the clock.
The DT who appears most likely to be taken first off the board: Christian Barmore, who could be of interest for the Browns at pick No. 26. Cleveland didn't re-sign four-year veteran DT Larry Ogunjobi, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, and released veteran tackle Sheldon Richardson last week. The Browns currently have four players left at the position, so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities to spend an early-round pick to add more competition for starting jobs.
Which brings Barmore into the discussion as a possible first- or second-round pick.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Wednesday he believes the Browns could be interested. He ranked Barmore as his 42nd overall prospect in his third and most recent version of his "Top 50" prospects of the 2021 class.
"I think he could sneak into the back end of Round 1," Jeremiah said on a conference call with reporters. "I think more likely he goes to Round 2. He fits the profile of what traditionally are the second-round guys in that he's a little bit of a boom-bust player where you have high highs, and then you've got some inconsistent lower lows."
Over the next few weeks, as the 2021 NFL Draft gets closer and closer, we're spotlighting a different position group each day at ClevelandBrowns.com.
Our Road to the Draft series will dive deep into the top players available at each position group. In this series, we'll be analyzing what the Browns have on hand and how that may affect the team's decision making with its nine selections.
Barmore, who declared for the draft after his redshirt sophomore season at Alabama, registered eight sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss in 12 games last season. This past season was the only year he started with the Crimson Tide, which explains the uncertainty Jeremiah and other analysts have in predicting his NFL future.
But Barmore also has the potential to become a star. He made enough explosive plays last season to convince scouts he could be the best defensive tackle of the class, and it's worth noting he won Defensive Most Valuable Player in Alabama's National Championship victory, when he collected one sack, two tackles for a loss and five total tackles.
"He's more of an upfield guy," Jeremiah said. "Let him use that athleticism to attack an edge and work upfield. Asking him to kind of play blocks and hang in there, that's not really his style. He's a big guy."
Jeremiah said Barmore might be best utilized in a three-technique scheme, which is when the defensive tackle lines up on the outside shoulder of an offensive guard. That scheme could be utilized by the Browns, who have already bolstered their defensive line in free agency with DT Malik Jackson and DEs Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley.
So if the Browns believe Barmore is a good fit and he's available late in the first round, would it be a reach to grab him?
"I don't think that's a big reach if you feel like he fits what you do," Jeremiah said. "But I think there is some risk involved. There's some games where he just kind of disappears, so the ability is there."
Executive Vice President and GM Andrew Berry and his front office crew will have their own assessment of Barmore when the draft begins. Defensive tackle is likely among the positions they're hoping to address at some point in the draft, and Barmore — as well as Washington DT Levi Onwuzurike, the other tackle of the class with first-round potential — could be names to watch.
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