Would the Cleveland Browns go with a DT in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Perhaps the ghost of Danny Shelton still haunts me at night, but the thought of the Cleveland Browns taking a defensive tackle with a first-round pick is frightening.
That said, the latest mock draft from Cleveland.com has the Browns making the pick, adding an interior lineman to the roster next spring. If you thought last May’s draft was interesting, get ready for 2021, as scouts may head into the draft having not seen players on the field in 17 months (if none of the conferences play).
To determine the draft order, writer Tim Bielik used reverse Super Bowl odds from one of the gambling sites.
If this order were to hold up, the Browns would be picking 14th and drafting Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman, based on his ability to rush the passer.
Before any of the Power-5 conferences started cancelling seasons, Twyman opted out of the college season to prepare for the NFL Draft, so we weren’t going to see him anyways in 2020.
In his lone season as a starter, Twyman had 10.5 sacks and 41 tackles as a sophomore, earning him an All-ACC first-team and second-team All-American nods.
"“Twyman was simply special as a pass-rushing defensive tackle in 2019. And the advanced numbers show pressure up the middle is one of the most effective tools to disrupt quarterbacks. Put him on a defensive line with Myles Garrett, and the Browns can have great inside and outside pressure,” Bielik wrote."
While the thought of an interior lineman is scary, Twyman is different than Shelton in that he can get after the quarterback, and the Browns will eventually need to find a replacement for Sheldon Richardson on the interior.
To bottom line it: He must be an impact player. Taking a sound tackle you expect to stop the run doesn’t cut it If Twyman is the pick, he better get into the backfield.
From the 10-month-out perspective, the Browns look more likely to take an edge rusher in the upcoming draft. This is likely Olivier Vernon’s final season with the organization, and unless something unforeseen happens internally, filling a defensive end to play opposite Myles Garrett will be a top priority.
That said, the defensive end class is viewed as being on the weak side right now, and without a season to prove themselves, that label may carry itself into the draft.
Ideally the Browns will be picking a lot lower than 14th, assuming they make the playoffs and then make a little noise in the process. Sure, it’s early, but mocking the Browns never gets old!