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Draft on Tap: 3 defensive tackles to watch in Rounds 2-3

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler highlighted three defensive tackles who could make sense for the Browns in their first three picks


With four days to go until they're officially on the clock with their first draft pick, the Browns appear set to enter the draft with only four defensive tackles on their roster.

Their lone addition to the group so far this offseason was Taven Bryan, a 2018 first-round pick with 86 career tackles and 5.5 sacks. Cleveland re-signed Sheldon Day, who played significant snaps near the end of the last season, and have Jordan Elliott and Tommy Togiai, who were each drafted in the last two years.

Another player will almost certainly be added at some point in the draft, and there could be a few intriguing options at either pick No. 44, 78 or 99.

The Athletic's Dane Brugler, who recently released one of the biggest annual draft guides available in "The Beast," broke down three players to monitor — one of which he mocked to the Browns in his own mock draft.

Here's what he had to say about three prospects likely to be available on Day 2.

Check out photos of possible Day 2 defensive tackles the Browns might target in the 2022 NFL Draft

Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

Winfrey has been one of the most mocked players to the Browns and appears poised to be one of the best defensive tackles up for grabs in Round 2.

Oklahoma's defensive schemes weren't always ripe to fully show Winfrey's talent, according to Brugler, which is why he was one of the most interesting players to watch in the Senior Bowl, where he delivered a huge boost to his draft stock with the way he handled some of the top blocking prospects of the draft.

"He showed out at the Senior Bowl with his ability to beat blockers in different ways," Brugler said. "He has quickness and power. There's a lot to like there in terms of his length — he has 35-inch arms.

"He's a young player. He's still just 21 years old and is learning to play the position. The tape is inconsistent because they play that slanting front with the Sooners in that scheme, so with Winfrey, you feel like there's more meat on the bone."

DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

Leal is a prospect with a similar ranking as Winfrey, although the reasoning for his scouting report is flip-flopped.

Leal produced 13 career sacks, including 8.5 last season. Those are big numbers for an SEC defensive tackle, but he still has a few question marks about his game and how he might fit in an NFL system. The pass-rush ability and sheer strength is there no matter where he plays, though, and it's more a matter of finding out which ways to best maximize it.

"I think the big question that scouts are asking is if he's more versatile, in terms of inside-outside, or is he more of a tweener and not a perfect fit at either spot, and you have to scheme him to get the best out of him," Brugler said. "There's a lot to like about his body control. He can give you both a bull rush, but then also win with quickness and stunts and things like that."

John Ridgeway, Arkansas

Ridgeway was Brugler's mock pick to land in Cleveland with the 99th overall pick.

He views Ridgeway as a potential starter after he dominated at the FCS level with Illinois State his first three college seasons and transferred his senior year to Arkansas, where he proved that his strength — he was a state champion wrestler in college — translates well against the top blockers in the nation.

Ridgeway was not a particularly dominant pass rusher and only had three career sacks, but his benefits in the run game stand out. Brugler believes his talents will help open holes for linebackers to end rushing plays quickly, which is why he views Ridgeway as a quality pick toward the end of Day 3.

"He's a more natural nose tackle," Brugler said. "That's what he does best. He holds the point of attack. He's long, he's strong and he's burly. He works up and down the line of scrimmage and can reset the line of scrimmage. He does a really nice job against the run. If you're looking for that nose tackle you can bring in, hold the point of attack in the middle of the line, I think John Ridgeway in the third round makes sense."

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