Opening night of the NFL draft came and went, and true to Andrew Berry’s words, the Browns did not move back into the first round.
And while the influx of talent every year is exciting, it’s important to remember that there is still a roster of guys on the team ready to compete.
And almost every year, the top teams feature a player who has the rest of the league asking where he came from.
Think Joe Burrow for last season’s Bengals.
Or Cooper Kupp on last season’s Rams.
Both were known to be high-level, above average players, but each took massive individual leaps forward.
Which Browns players might be in line for career years in 2022?
1. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
The fact that the Browns landed Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a minor miracle.
Per Bleacher Report’s pre-draft Big Board, he was the No. 14 overall prospect out of college.
He was also ranked the top linebacker coming out of college.
BR even had JOK ranked ahead of Micah Parsons, the Cowboys stud who coasted to Defensive Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, and First-Team All-Pro honors.
But lingering questions of health saw Owusu-Koramoah slide down the draft.
He fell all the way to No. 52, where the Browns traded up to land the Notre Dame talent.
In his rookie season, he flashed the insane athleticism that left scouts drooling.
And while he lacked a few big time plays, the promise was there.
Through 14 games (10 starts), Owusu-Koramoah tallied 76 total tackles and forced two fumbles.
It helped that he played behind a solid D-Line led by free agent Jadeveon Clowney.
It’s true that JOK might not have the same caliber line in front of him, but that might be perfectly fine.
In fact, it might be necessary.
If the team wants to unlock Owusu-Koramoah’s massive ceiling, handing over more of the defensive responsibility is a good place to start.
Highest graded rookie LB’s in zone coverage last season:
🥇 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah: 72.8
🥈 Ernest Jones: 72.0 pic.twitter.com/1IrKB0xaTj
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 22, 2022
While he doesn’t boast the positional versatility of Parsons (who, I’m fairly confident could play every single position on defense), Owusu-Koramoah can line up in most linebacker spots as well as several safety slots.
2. Donovan Peoples-Jones
Just like Owusu-Koramoah, Donovan Peoples-Jones will likely benefit from a greater role.
That will no longer be the case (unless Landry somehow returns).
Nonetheless, Peoples-Jones made the most of his few receptions, going for 21.7 and 17.6 yards per reception in his first two seasons, respectively.
He’s evolved into a legitimate deep-ball threat, a requirement for teams in the modern NFL.
And perhaps even more important than moving up in the pecking order, he’ll be playing with a QB who can get the ball downfield far more accurately.
— FantasyData (@FantasyDataNFL) April 23, 2022
The fact that Peoples-Jones was still racking up that many yards per reception with Baker Mayfield’s broken shoulder is a promising sign.
He’ll have Amari Cooper (and any other wideouts that the Browns might take in the draft) to compete with, but look for Peoples-Jones to have a strong third year in 2022.