According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Browns fans shouldn’t expect to hear the team’s name called next Thursday night.
At a pre-draft press conference this week, GM Andrew Berry explained that it’s “unlikely” the team will trade back into the first round.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) April 22, 2022
In March, the front office gave up its first pick this year (and ‘23 and ‘24), along with further draft capital, to bring in Deshaun Watson.
As it stands, the first Browns pick is No. 44, the twelfth pick of the second round.
Berry’s clarification is an interesting one; he has a history of moving up and down the draft board.
Last year, he moved up seven spots (from 59 to 52) to take the free-falling Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
And this year also won’t be Berry’s first without a first-round pick.
In 2014, Berry served as a pro-scouting coordinator for the Colts, who gave up their first-rounder in a trade for Trent Richardson (coincidentally, the trade was with Berry’s current employer).
Given the draft field this year, there’s no real impetus to move back into the first round.
For starters, there’s no real consensus on who the top pick will be.
ESPN analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper both predict Michigan Edge Aiden Hutchinson will be the first name called.
Peter Schrager, host of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, however, is predicting Georgia DL Travon Walker to be the first announced.
Revealing my latest Mock Draft now on @GMFB .
–Giants go CROSS AND "SAUCE"
–Jets go "THIBS" and JAMESON
–Eagles go DRAKE LONDON and DEVIN LLOYD
–Packers go JAHAN DOTSON and DEVONTE WYATT
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) April 19, 2022
It’s a stark contrast to what we’ve seen in years prior; last year, Trevor Lawrence was the wire-to-wire top draft pick.
In 2020, Joe Burrow’s remarkable season with LSU elevated him into the consensus top pick.
We’ve seen runs on QB, players who experts promise won’t fall any further than team X, etc.
There’s just not really any of that this year.
You know it’s bad when Davis Mills could’ve gone first this year.
The QB class isn’t nearly what it was last year or the year prior.
The class also lacks a marquee talent at wideout (like Ja’Marr Chase) or defensive back (like Micah Parsons), further setting it apart from drafts prior.
That’s not to say that the Browns would pull off a move to the top of the first round, but it goes to show that this year, of all years, will likely be one featuring more than a few head scratching moves, because so little is certain.
That leaves an opportunity for Berry to potentially get his man at No. 44, anyway.
There’s also the issue with draft stock (or lack thereof).
In addition to No. 44, the Browns have No. 78, 99, 118, 202, 223, and 246.
Those late-rounders are nice, but rarely convey starting-level talent.
The Browns aren’t exactly in a position to spend more draft capital just to move up a dozen spots.
Without a first next year or the year after, the worst thing Berry could do is send another late-round pick to a team, further laying the cupboards bare.
But hey, maybe if he does trade up, he’ll be able to cut some salary from the college scouts, money that he’ll need to pay all $230 million guaranteed to Deshaun Watson.