Draft on Tap

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Draft on Tap: Breaking down the top WR prospects who could be available on Day 2

Several promising prospects could be in range for the Browns in the second and even third round

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The Browns have already made a big splash at wide receiver this offseason with the acquisition of four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper, and they may not be done yet.

Several draft analysts see a deep wide receiver class that could have plenty of intriguing options for the Browns when they're on the clock at No. 44 overall, their first pick of the 2022 NFL draft. The Athletic's Dane Brugler is one of the analysts high on the class, and he wouldn't be surprised to see the Browns invest their second-round pick on someone from the group.

"I think we're gonna see six, seven maybe or even eight receivers go in that first, second and third round," Brugler said in a "Draft on Tap" interview with Nathan Zegura. "It drops off a little later on, but in the first four rounds, we're going to see a lot of receiver talent come off that board."

Brugler, who recently released one of the biggest annual draft guides available in "The Beast," broke down several options that could be available for the Browns, who also have two third-round picks that could be aimed toward selecting a receiver.

Here's what he had to say about guys who very well could land in Cleveland next week.

George Pickens, Georgia

It seems as though no receiver has been more heavily mocked to the Browns' first pick than Pickens, who got off to a hot start with the Bulldogs but couldn't quite ascend to his top potential due to injuries in his final two seasons.

Pickens only played 12 games in the last two years after totaling a team-high 727 yards and eight touchdowns as a true freshman. Even though an upper-body injury his sophomore year and a torn ACL his junior year limited his playing time, he still put plenty of eye-popping plays on tape, which could make him one of the top players available on Day 2.

"You love his ball-tracking skills, you love his ability in those 50/50 contested windows," Brugler said. "There's a lot to like about what he is now and also what he's going to be. He's a very young player and burst onto the scene as a true freshman at Georgia."

Pickens' draft spot will likely depend on how teams viewed his medicals during the pre-draft process, but the team that takes him will have a player who might've been viewed as a first-round talent had he been able to play more games.

"This is a tall, long athlete who's very graceful when the ball is in the air," Brugler said. "He can be a true wide receiver and true 'X' at the next level.

"If he returns to that pre-injury form, continues to develop as a route-runner, you're going to have something there with George Pickens."

Check out photos of day 2 wide receivers the Browns might target in the 2022 NFL Draft

Christian Watson, North Dakota State

No player arguably has risen higher up draft boards in the pre-draft than Watson, a tall receiver who dominated at the FCS level last season and carried that momentum into the Senior Bowl and Combine.

Some mock drafts have had Watson going as a late first-round pick, but Brugler believes he'll likely land as a Day 2 pick that carries high upside. The knock against Watson is that he never faced FBS competition and might need time to adjust to NFL talent, but with the way he dominated FCS — with 801 receiving yards and seven touchdowns — the adjustment could be a quick one.

"It would not be surprising if we see him off the board in the first," Brugler said. "When you have a guy with that long athletic frame, that gliding acceleration, a 4.36 in the 40, a 38.5-inch vertical — no one crushed the pre-draft process quite like Christian Watson. He was outstanding at the Senior Bowl and did an outstanding job at the Combine, so there's a lot of traits to work with there."

Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama

Tolbert is another player who didn't consistently face the top competition in college football but displayed plenty of signs he could produce in the NFL.

He's the only receiver in South Alabama history to top 1,000 receiving yards, and he did it twice in his last two college seasons. He finished with 3,140 total receiving yards and 22 touchdowns in four seasons and knows how to keep a defensive back guessing on his routes and speed.

"He's a little overlooked because he went to South Alabama, but he chose South Alabama over Michigan State and other big-name schools in order to stay closer to home," Brugler said. "He's a guy that can play across the formation. Not a burner, per se. Speed is not what he does best, but he has the ability to control his routes and throttle up, throttle down."

John Metchie III, Alabama

After starting his college career playing behind Devonte Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs III, Metchie became a two-year starter and developed solid traits to play multiple receiver positions. He mostly was an "X" receiver with the Crimson Tide and caught 1,142 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in his final season in Alabama, production that — as Brugler quickly learned — earned all the praise from coach Nick Saban.

"You wanna hear Nick Saban gush about a receiver? Ask him about John Metchie," Brugler said. "He gushes about the way he attacks the position. He's another guy who's detail-oriented. What you love about him is how seasoned he is as a route runner … He understands how to manipulate coverage, find the blind spot of those defensive backs. He's going to be a quarterback's best friend because he's always available."

Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky

Now we're getting into receivers most likely to land as third-round picks or higher, but there's still a couple of noteworthy players to keep on the Browns' radar.

Robinson is one of the smaller players on this list at 5-foot-8, but he performed well out of the slot with the Wildcats last season, catching 104 passes for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns. He has more career drops (11) than touchdowns (10), but could be an attractive prospect because of his speed and above-average separation skills.

"He's a little undersized," Brugler said. "His ability after the catch, that's where he's dynamic. That open-field athleticism, his vision to weave through the defense and be a catch and run threat, that's what you're getting from Wan'Dale Robinson."

Alec Pierce, Cincinnati

Pierce has the versatility to play a variety of receiver roles, as evidenced by his basketball and volleyball background in high school. He was a two-way player on the gridiron, too, and used that skillset to build a nice career with the Bearcats that could lead him to become a starting NFL receiver.

Pierce, who checks in at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, caught 106 passes for 1,851 yards and 13 touchdowns across four college seasons.

"He has a tall, angular frame," Brugler said. "He's got that straight-line speed. He jumped over 40 inches, and you see that on tape with his ability to high-point and go get the football … As he continues to grow and develop and add branches to his route-tree, you get excited about what he can be. I think Alec Pierce in the third round will be fascinating."

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