Over the next few weeks, as the 2021 NFL Draft gets closer and closer, we're spotlighting a different position group or draft storyline at ClevelandBrowns.com.
In our Road to the Draft series, we'll take a deep dive into the top prospects available at each position group. We're continuing with the safeties, a group that could be heard from a lot on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Why the position matters for the Browns: Cleveland shored up its safety room — and thus decreased the level of need for the position in the draft — by adding John Johnson III on the first official day of free agency. Johnson was the Browns' most coveted player of the free-agent class, and his acquisition gives Cleveland a young core of safeties in Johnson, Ronnie Harrison Jr. and Grant Delpit, who missed all of his 2020 rookie season with an Achilles injury. Sheldrick Redwine, Jovante Moffatt and Elijah Benton round out the group, but the Browns could opt to add more depth and competition with any of their nine 2021 draft picks.
The top dog in this year's class: Trevon Moehrig is widely predicted to be the top safety off the board, but he isn't expected to be drafted until the final picks of Round 1. Before the Browns signed Johnson, Moehrig — who registered seven interceptions, 21 passes defensed and 124 tackles in three seasons at TCU — was a popular option for their first pick at No. 26 but now isn't being linked much to Cleveland.
Rounding out the top five: Richie Grant, the 2020 Jim Thorpe Award winner out of Central Florida, has first-round potential and is believed by some analysts to be the best safety of the class. He's most likely to be selected early in Round 2 and could be out of reach for the Browns, who pick near the end of the round, but there's plenty of other options that should be available that day. Jevon Holland (Oregon) and Hamsah Nasirildeen (Florida State) are two names to monitor and possess starting potential — although neither would be needed to immediately start with Cleveland. Andre Cisco (Syracuse) and Jamar Johnson (Indiana) round out the top five on Dane Brugler's position rankings on The Beast from The Athletic.
How many first-rounders?: Likely just one, and that's Moehrig. Grant could be in the conversation for the last few picks of the round, but the bulk of the safeties in this class will are pegged for Day 2 or 3, which will give the Browns plenty of options with their bevy of later picks if they don't address the position early.
Quote to note: "Last year's NFL Draft didn't have a first-round safety, but difference-making rookies such as Antoine Winfield (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Jeremy Chinn (Carolina Panthers) were key picks in the second round. Although not as deep, this year's safety class is similar because none of the prospects below are viewed as first-round locks, but there are several from this group who can be strong contributors from Day 1." - Brugler in his "Top 10 safeties for 2021 NFL Draft"
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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.