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NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah looks at four players for Browns' second-round pick ahead of NFL Combine

Jeremiah names two defensive tackles and two linebackers as intriguing prospects for the Browns

DJ Combine Prospects

The NFL Scouting Combine is set to take place beginning Feb. 27, and while much of the discussion centered around the draft will focus on the quarterbacks and how the top of the first round will shake out, the Browns' first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft won't come until the second round at No. 54 overall.

Yet, NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes there are some front seven players who could be in the conversation at that pick for Cleveland.

"The second-round groupings, if we're looking at the Cleveland Browns, you're looking at some (defensive tackles), maybe some linebackers," Jeremiah said.

Jeremiah named four players who could be intriguing for the Browns in that range of their first pick: Florida State defensive tackle Braden Fiske, LSU defensive tackle Maason Smith, Michigan linebacker Junior Colson and North Carolina State linebacker Payton Wilson.

All four players are invited to the Combine and will be names to keep an eye on throughout the week in Indianapolis. Defensive linemen and linebackers will participate in live drills on Thursday, Feb. 29, beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

Jeremiah said that he particularly liked Fiske in the defensive tackle position. The 6-foot-5, 297-pound senior finished out his collegiate career at Florida State. He played four seasons at Western Michigan from 2019-22 before playing his final season at FSU. He tied his career-high of six sacks during the 2023 season at FSU, and finished the season with 43 tackles, as well as nine tackles for loss.

"Transferred out of the MAC. He's a really really good player. He's got a test like a freak too. He'll test well to combine. But really quick, shoots, gaps, effort, chase. Can play every position. He finds the ball. He's got really good instincts. Not real long, but a good player and had great week at the Senior Bowl. So, he's one in that mix."

The other defensive tackle option that Jeremiah mentioned was Smith out of LSU. At 6-foot-6, 315-pounds, Smith finished the 2023 season with 27 total tackles, as well as 2.5 sacks and two passes defended. He missed his sophomore season with a knee injury that he sustained during the 2022 season opener against Florida State. His freshman year in 2021, Smith recorded 19 total tackles, as well as four sacks.

"You look at an intriguing guy with Maason Smith from LSU, who doesn't have a ton of production, but he's 6-foot-3, 310 pounds. Really good as a freshman, or really good his first year, coming off an ACL last year, didn't quite see the same player. But has some quickness, has some traits. Just get him fully healthy. I think there's kind of an upside play there with a guy like that."

The Browns defensive line has some questions heading into free agency and the draft, as they have a number of players like DE Za'Darius Smith, DT Shelby Harris, DT Maurice Hurst and DT Jordan Elliott all who could become unrestricted free agents in March. Depending on how free agency shakes out could affect the approach of the draft as well.

It's a similar case with the linebackers. The Browns have five of their eight linebackers who are set to become unrestricted free agents on March 13 – Sione Takitaki, Anthony Walker Jr., Matthew Adams, Jordan Kunaszyk and Jacob Phillips.

Jeremiah also had two names for linebackers who could be intriguing prospects in the second-round range for the Browns. First was Colson out of Michigan, who played a key role on their defense for the national champion Wolverines. At 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, Colson recorded 95 total tackles, including a career-high 44 solo tackles, during the 2023 season, as well as two passes defended. He had a career-high 101 tackles during his sophomore season, as well as two sacks.

"Just real instinctive," Jeremiah said. "Plays downhill. Can cover tight ends. He was hurt, he was beat up a lot this year played through it at Michigan. Kind of shows you the toughness and the leadership that you want there from that position."

Then lastly, Jeremiah highlighted Wilson out of NC State. To Jeremiah, Wilson reminded him of linebacker Kiko Alonso when he was coming out of Oregon in 2012. Alonso was drafted as the 46thoverall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Bills and was the fifth linebacker drafted in 2013.

At 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, Wilson played five seasons with NC State. In two of his five seasons, Wilson recorded over 100 tackles, with a career-high 138 tackles in the 2023 season. He set other career-highs with six sacks, six passes defended, a fumble, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions and a touchdown.

"Wrestling background. Has had some injuries, but really, really instinctive," Jeremiah said. "Ton of speed. Ton of range. Just a really good player."

The NFL Combine provides another opportunity for these and the over 300 players invited to the combine to showcase their skillsets in front of front office members, coaches and scouts, as well as potentially alter their draft stock. If a defensive tackle or linebacker is the route that the Browns lean towards in April, Jeremiah believes there are options for the Browns with their pick to add to their front seven.

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