It’s believed the Browns will take a linebacker at some point in the 2021 NFL Draft, but would GM Andrew Berry trade up to get one?
NFL.com’s Chad Reuter latest mock projects the Browns to trade up from No. 26 to No. 21 so they can select Missouri junior linebacker Nick Bolton.
Retuer described him as an interior playmaker in the mold of Devin Bush. To jump up five spots, Reuter has Cleveland coughing up one of its fourth-round picks, in addition to a sixth-round selection.
The pick is a nice thought, but trading up, for a linebacker, no less, doesn’t seem like this Browns’ front office would make, mainly because the organization doesn’t seem to put a great deal of value on the position.
After taking over as GM, Berry saw Joe Schobert leave in free agency and then waived Christian Kirksey. Knowing full well this team needed a linebacker, Berry didn’t take one until the fourth round, when he selected LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips.
With the Browns emphasis on analytics, it would seem more likely the team use their first-round pick on big-money position, such as defensive end or corner. The team really needs an edge rusher to complement Myles Garrett, and signing one in free agency will cost a ton of money.
The Browns will be busy handling internal business regarding personnel, and it just doesn’t seem feasibly that the team will dole out major money for someone like Shaquille Barrett.
Drafting a stud edge rusher and paying him on the rookie scale will go along away to helping the Browns build their defense.
Additionally, the Browns have been drafting linebackers in the later rounds and those players are maturing to the point where they can play more reps. Mack Wilson is the most recognizable name to return. He hasn’t been great, but I don’t think the Browns are ready to give up on him.
Some might forget Sione Takitaki was taken in the same draft as Wilson. The BYU product was actually a higher pick (third round) than Wilson. Entering year three, Takitaki should be a major player in 2021.
Phillips is a player the Browns really like. They eased him into the lineup much like they did with Takitaki. Bottom lining it: The Browns have nurtured three young linebackers. They’ll probably take another at some point in the draft and pepper the depth chart with veterans on one-year contracts.