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Joe Woods says Greg Newsome II, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah 'bring a different element'

The Browns defensive coordinator believes the Browns ‘got two first-rounders’ in Newsome and ‘JOK’

Joe Woods didn't view the Browns' defense as only having one first-round rookie on its roster last week in mandatory minicamp.

Sure, CB Greg Newsome II is the lone first-rounder. The speedy cornerback from Northwestern was at the top of the Browns' draft board when Cleveland was on the clock at pick No. 26 last April.

But LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah wasn't far below Newsome's name on the draft board, either. Cleveland snagged Owusu-Koramoah, who was widely projected to be a first-round pick by draft analysts, with pick No. 52 in the second round.

With what Woods, the Browns' defensive coordinator, has seen so far, both players merited first-round status.

"Greg and JOK, those guys are very smart players, and they are very competitive players," Woods said last week following the Browns' three minicamp practices. "They come out there and they just go hard all the time. They are trying to learn as much football as they can.

"To me, it felt like we got two first-rounders, for sure."

Check out exclusive photos of minicamp

Newsome and Owusu-Koramoah both received heavy handfuls of reps throughout the week and certainly showcased why the Browns held them to high value despite the practice limitations of minicamp.

Newsome's best moment came in the final minutes of minicamp, when he snatched an interception in seven-on-seven red zone drills and ran around the practice field with the rest of the defense chasing him in celebration. Newsome appeared to be around the ball each day of minicamp, which makes the upcoming training camp cornerback battle between Newsome, Denzel Ward, Troy Hill, Greedy Williams and other CBs on the roster even more intriguing.

Woods will wait to see more in August, but he said he's not opposed to using Newsome both on the outside and slot positions to help keep him on the field.

"During the offseason is when you really want to put guys in those positions to see what they are capable of doing in terms of playing inside and outside," he said. "When we come back in training camp, we will see how he progressed and for him to keep moving in that direction or just focus some more outside at corner. Right now, I believe he is capable of playing both positions."

Owusu-Koramoah, meanwhile, made it clear he can run step-for-step with running backs and right ends from the slot. That's his calling card as a linebacker at 215 pounds, a below-average weight for the position, but the Browns have stocked their linebacker room with speedy players who may not always be the biggest men on the field, so Owusu-Koramoah's fit makes plenty of sense.

"A very smart player, very athletic," Woods said. "You can see the speed, the quickness and the change of direction. He will be able to match up well against tight ends."

The paths to which Newsome and Owusu-Koramoah could take to becoming key rookies on the Browns defense isn't hard to identify.

Sure, Cleveland has quality cornerback depth with the free-agent addition of Hill and return of Williams, who missed last season with a shoulder injury, but the Browns learned last season just how quickly injuries in the secondary can pile up. Newsome is, at minimum, a talented depth piece for 2021 and is likely to be a big contributor regardless of who's healthy.

At linebacker, the Browns have a few decisions to make in the spots surrounding free-agent signee and four-year veteran Anthony Walker. Owusu-Koramoah's speed makes him a fit at either of the outside linebacker positions, where the Browns will have competition for starting jobs.

Both those descriptions fit the normal expectations of defensive first-round picks.

That's why Woods believes the Browns received a premium on their first two picks of the draft.

"They just bring a different element to the team," he said. "It's been good having both of those guys involved."