As the kickoff of the 2023 NFL Draft draws closer, the number of mock drafts has proliferated. Experts from across the field have begun to reveal their final (or near-final) projections for how one of the league’s marquee offseason events will unfold. The accuracy of those predictions remains unclear, however.
Several notable draftniks have posted their official mock drafts, including their expectations for the Cleveland Browns. Here, we break down what each expert says about the first- and second-round selections.
Kiper/McShay dueling mock: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida; Henry To’oTo’o, ILB, Alabama
Matt Miller: Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina; Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State
Ryan Wilson: Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas; Brodric Martin, DL, Western Kentucky
Chad Reuter: Zach Evans, RB, Mississippi; Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
The Browns’ 2023 draft class will still reflect the trade they made a year earlier for Deshaun Watson, a deal that included multiple first-round picks heading to the Houston Texans. Cleveland also traded its 2023 second-rounder to the New York Jets for wideout Elijah Moore, further depleting the draft coffers. Accordingly, only one top-100 selection remains.
Entering draft week, the mocks look almost evenly split between adding to the defensive line and replenishing at the offensive skill positions. The argument for the first of those options seems obvious. The Browns had a poor defense a year ago and no longer have Jadeveon Clowney. Dalvin Tomlinson and Ogbo Okoronkwo represent stopgap measures, not long-term solutions along the front. Zachh Pickens and Gervon Dexter likely won’t solve those concerns right away, but either could carve out niches early in their careers.
As for the other two options, receiver makes the most sense in theory but might not seem as appealing in practice given the quality of this rookie class. After Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the group might not produce another first-round pick. That means the caliber of wideout still available in the third round will leave a lot more to be desired than in the typical year.