3 Small-School Prospects the Browns Should Draft

The Cleveland Browns haven't drafted any small school players during the Kevin Stefanski era, but that could change this year. Here are three prospects that Cleveland should consider drafting.
Jan 31, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; American edge Jalyx Hunt of Houston Christian (13) works
Jan 31, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; American edge Jalyx Hunt of Houston Christian (13) works / Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 3

The Cleveland Browns don’t have a lot of picks heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, which means they have to hit on their first two picks in the second and third rounds. If they can do that, then the Browns could look to take some chances on a couple of small school prospects on Day 3.

Since Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski took over as general manager and head coach in 2020, the Browns haven’t spent any draft capital on small school players. When we say small school prospects, we’re referring to draft prospects, who played FCS, D2, D3, or NAIA football.

However, the Browns have a chance to change that in this year’s draft as there are a lot of good small-school prospects who will hear their name being called on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7). 

Cleveland is already set at multiple spots, but these small-school guys can become contributors and provide depth to become starters. Below, we’ll discuss a few small-school players that the Browns should consider taking during NFL draft weekend.

1. Deangelo Hardy, North Central (IL)

The Browns don’t necessarily need to address wide receiver in the draft as they have a solid trio in Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy, and Elijah Moore. However, if Cleveland is looking for some spark and depth at the position, then Deangelo Hardy should be on their radar.

The 6-foot Hardy is one of the best small school prospects in this year’s class as he has a lot of good traits that make him intriguing at the next level. The former North Central (IL) standout is an explosive pass catcher with good run-after-the-catch ability.

The Browns don’t have an explosive playmaker at wide receiver, even though Cooper can have big games like he did against the Houston Texans in Week 16 (11 receptions for 265 yards and two TDs). However, the Browns need that down-the-field threat that Deshaun Watson can get the ball to – Hardy fits that profile. 

North Central (IL) used Hardy in multiple ways throughout his collegiate career as he had five rushing touchdowns, three kick return touchdowns (520 yards), and 58 receiving touchdowns. 

Hardy’s ability to be a factor on special teams will help him make any roster, especially the Browns who had Pierre Strong and James Proche handling the kick and punt return duties last season.