Cleveland Browns land playmaking linebacker in way too early look at the first round of the 2021 NFL draft

With the 2020 NFL draft over, is it too early to start looking at 2021?  ABSOLUTELY NOT. Let’s see who the Cleveland Browns could land in 2021.

Is 2021 the offseason the first one that Cleveland Browns fans won’t be excited about the draft?  Let’s hope the team will finally get out of the top ten picks and it won’t be the highlight of the year. After a strong free agency period and draft in 2020, Andrew Berry appears to have the Browns on the right track for success.

The Browns were able to add a few starters for 2020 in this year's draft as well as potential 2021 starters. As expected with a new general manager, the Browns roster is set up for a large amount of turnover next season. Berry solved many roster holes in 2020 with one-year contracts and it remains to be seen how many will earn a contract extension.

After next season players like Olivier Vernon, Terrance Mitchell, Larry Ogunjobi, Kareem Hunt, Karly Joseph, and Andrew Sendejo will be out of a contract. All the listed players above are expected to be major contributors in the 2020 season. It’s also worth noting that Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. will be owed over $30 million between the two. Beckham will have no dead cap left on his contract and could be a luxury the Browns look to move on from unless he returns to his 2015 form.

Sadly, after next season the Browns will also have to start making tough decisions with young players who have been high performers. Both Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb will be owed contracts in 2022, with Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, and Greedy Williams the following. While a talent like Nick Chubb will be tough for Berry to justify, the rest of the list will need to be paid to keep the franchise moving in the right direction.

Don’t let this information scare you, but it is something to remember. To this point, Berry has proven to be more than capable of attracting talent in free agency and negotiating team-friendly contracts.  With all this info, let’s dig into draft possibilities for all NFL teams next season.

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 13: Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers before taking on the LSU Tigers during the College Football Playoff National Championship held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020, in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

1

Trevor Lawrence

Quarterback | Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence Logo

The Jaguars look to be moving forward with the Gardner Minshew project for one more year. After moving on from most of the talent that led them to the AFC Championship game in 2018, it looks likely for them to be in the number one slot.

Quarterback, Trevor Lawrence from Clemson looks to be the best prospect since Andrew Luck. If allowed to leave, Lawrence likely would have been drafted ahead of Joe Burrow in 2020.  Lawrence has the size, mobility, and a rocket arm that has his stock through the roof.

2

Justin Fields

Quarterback | Washington Redskins
Justin Fields Logo

The Redskins have not found much success as of late, and with questions at quarterback they likely end up in the same draft position as last season. Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Alex Smith are on the roster, but it doesn’t appear any are quality enough players to lift the organization to their past success.

Justin Fields from Ohio State looks to be the second-best quarterback on the board next year.  While Lawrence is the likely Heisman favorite, Fields will be in the discussion. A knee tweak to end the 2019 season slowed him down, but a healthy Fields in 2020 will allow him to shine in Ryan Day's offense.

3

Penei Sewell

Offensive Tackle | Detroit Lions
Penei Sewell Logo

The Lions have had the talent the last 10 years but can’t seem to put it all together to transform into wins.  With Mathew Stafford still being capable the Lions will win games, but unfortunately, it will just be enough to keep them from drafting a possible franchise quarterback.

Even though the Lions will miss on a quarterback, Penei Sewell from Oregon is the most talented player in this draft class… by far. While the 2020 offensive tackle class was deep, Sewell still would have been the first one off the board.  Sewell is big, long, and athletic which will make him the first non-quarterback taken in 2021.

4

Gregory Rousseau

Defensive End | New England Patriots
Gregory Rousseau Logo

The Patriots look to fall off their throne, and I don’t think anyone will be sad about it.  After losing Tom Brady, not even Bill Belichick will be able to re-build in one year.  After not drafting a top quarterback in 2020, the Patriots look to be at the top of the draft in 2021.

While Miami has somewhat fallen off the map from the early 2000s, Gregory Rosseau will change that next season.  After 15.5 sacks last season, look for the dominant edge rusher to pick up where he left off and charge up draft boards.

5

Ja'Marr Chase

Wide Receiver | Los Angeles Chargers
Ja'Marr Chase Logo

With rookie quarterback Justin Herbert at the helms in 2020, the Chargers will struggle to accumulate wins. The franchise may have a new stadium in LA but will continue to struggle without Phillip Rivers.

Even with struggles in 2020, don’t look for the Chargers to give up on Herbert.  Instead, they will look to help him with the top receiver in the draft, Ja’Marr Chase. After 84 catches and 1,780 yards last season with LSU, look for Chase to shine even with Burrow in the NFL.

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PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 16: Shaun Wade #24 of the Ohio State Buckeyes intercepts a pass intended for Bo Melton #18 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the first quarter at SHI Stadium on November 16, 2019, in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

6

Justyn Ross

Wide Receiver | Cincinnati Bengals
Justyn Ross Logo

The Bengals appear to be moving in the right direction, but tough competition and the learning curve for a rookie quarterback will keep the Bengals early in the draft. Let’s not forget the AFC North could be one of the tougher divisions in football.

Look for the Bengals to help Burrow in next year's draft with a wide receiver from Clemson. Justyn Ross is a big target who could fill the void of aging A.J. Green, who may or may not be on the team after next season. With Lawrence at quarterback, look for Ross to shine in 2020 driving up his stock even more.

7

Patrick Surtain II

Cornerback | New York Giants
Patrick Surtain II Logo

The Giants drafted their quarterback in 2019, but I’m not sold that Daniel Jones is the guy who can turn the franchise around. The Giants are working to improve, but with a weak roster and new head coach, look for the Giants in the top ten once again for the 2021 draft.

With an NFL bloodline, Patrick Surtain II has the potential to go top ten. After an All-American junior year, Surtain could shine with his 6-2 frame. The five-star recruit will cement his spot running well at the combine next year.

8

Walker Little

Offensive Tackle | Miami Dolphins
Walker Little Logo

The Dolphins has three first-round picks in 2020, but unfortunately, with a rookie quarterback look for them to continue to struggle. Tua Tagovailoa may be the answer, but the Dolphins will remain in the top ten for one more season.

After seeing the potential in Tagovailoa, looks for the Dolphins to sure up protection with Stanford offensive tackle, Walker Little.  After an injury that sidelined him most of 2019, Little looks to come back strong in 2020.  At 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, Little has the NFL frame scouts dream of.

9

Alex Leatherwood

Offensive Tackle | Carolina Panthers
Alex Leatherwood Logo

The Panthers look to start fresh in 2020 with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterback after cutting lose Cam Newton last month. Although Teddy Bridgewater shined at times in New Orleans, the system was a huge reason why. With a rookie offensive coordinator and fewer weapons, look for Bridgewater to take a step back next season and give the Panthers another top 10 pick.

After tightening up the defense in 2020, look for the Panthers to help keep Bridgewater comfortable by drafting the Alabama tackle, Alex Leatherwood. Alabama has produced multiple top ten linemen the last few years and the versatile Leatherwood won’t let that change.

10

Shaun Wade

Cornerback | Atlanta Falcons
Shaun Wade Logo

Atlanta simply hasn't been right since blowing a huge lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.  Quarterback Matt Ryan can still be productive, but he appears to be at the back end of his prime. The Falcons organization has kept head coach Dan Quinn even with a tough 2019 but look for there to be a new regime in 2021.

Ohio State has become knows as defensive back U and look for Shaun Wade to carry that tradition into the 2021 draft.  Wade is an above-average cover guy with great tackling skills. With a strong 2020 season, Wade can be a top prospect for the 2021 draft.

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STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 30: Micah Parsons #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions warms up before the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Beaver Stadium on November 30, 2019, in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

11

Sam Cosmi

Offensive Tackle | Arizona Cardinals
Sam Cosmi Logo

Kliff Kingsbury outperformed what many experts expected in his rookie campaign with the Cardinals.  While Kyler Murray looks to be the real deal at quarterback, the defense will have too many holes to compete in the AFC West next season.

After passing on offensive tackle the last draft to snag Isaiah Simmons, the Cardinals will look to address that next season with Texas tackle Sam Cosmi. Cosmi is switching to left tackle for 2020 and looks to add to another elite tackle class in 2021.

12

Micah Parsons

Linebacker | Denver Broncos
Micah Parsons Logo

John Elway made a splash with Peyton Manning, but since then the Broncos have struggled to fill the quarterback position. The Broncos think they finally have that solved with Drew Lock, but playing the Kansas City Chiefs twice a year will do them no favors.

After adding a toy for Lock-in 2020 with Jerry Jeudy, look for the Broncos to sure up the defense with linebacker Micah Parsons from Penn State. Parsons is a freak athlete who has a nose for the football with over 100 tackles in 2019.  With a strong season, Parsons could go even earlier in the draft.

13

Brevin Jordan

Tight End | New York Jets
Brevin Jordan Logo

The Jets are trying to take off by spending money in free agency and protecting young quarterback Sam Darnold with an elite tackle prospect in 2020. While the Jets finally got Tom Brady out of the division, look for them to continue to struggle in 2020 with Adam Gase unable to keep to the locker room under control.

With an earlier pick once again look for the Jets to continue to help Darnold with a talented tight end from Miami in Brevin Jordan.  With a limited offense, Jordan will have to shine in 2020 to up his stock, but with a 6-foot-3 athletic frame he has the potential to do so. Look for Brevin to rack up 700+ yards and 6 TDs in 2020 to solidify his spot of no. 13.

14

Israel Mukuamu

Cornerback | Las Vegas Raiders
Israel Mukuamu Logo

A new stadium and home in Las Vegas won’t be enough to get the Raiders to the playoffs next year. Derek Carr is a good quarterback, but not even John Gruden can transform him. After signing Marcus Mariota, look for controversy and struggles to continue for the Raiders.

The Raiders loaded up on receivers this year but will finally wise up and switch to defense in 2021. Cornerback Israel Mukuamu from South Carolina would fit the bill nicely.  The 6-4 corner has the size NFL teams dream about at corner. Stephon Gilmore was the last Gamecock corner to go in the first round, and that worked out okay.

15

LaBryan Ray

Defensive Line | Chicago Bears
LaBryan Ray Logo

After trading for Kahlil Mack, the team seemed to take off, but since then it has been all downhill. After trading for Nick Foles, the Mitchell Trubisky days in Chicago seem numbered. Yes, Foles had success with the Eagles, but never put it together in Jacksonville.  The Bears will win some games with a great defense but won’t be contenders.

After missing all of 2019 with an injury LaBryan Ray from Alabama could be the steal of the draft.  At 6-foot-5 and 292 pounds, Ray can play inside and out on the defensive line and can provide pressure at either spot. Versatility will bode well for Ray and move him into the first half of round one with a strong 2020 season.

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FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 9: DeVonta Smith #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs the ball during a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on November 16, 2019, in Starkville, Mississippi. The Crimson Tide defeated the Bulldogs 38-7. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

16

Marvin Wilson

Defensive Tackle | Jacksonville Jaguars
Marvin Wilson Logo

Jacksonville will once again have two picks in the first round stemming from the Jalen Ramsey trade. The Jags added an edge rusher with their additional first-rounder in 2020 and look for them to continue to build the defense in 2021.

While Florida State has struggled in recent years, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson has continued to be a lone bright spot.  With a massive structure of 6-foot-5 and 311-pounds, Wilson is still athletic and can provide quarterback pressure from the defensive tackle position.

17

Deonte Brown

Offensive Line | Buffalo Bills
Deonte Brown Logo

After losing their first-round pick for Stefon Diggs in 2020, the Bills will have mild success in 2020, but inconsistency from quarterback Josh Allan won’t allow the Bills to reach the playoffs again.

The 2021 draft will be heavy on lineman, both tackles and interior. An interior lineman would typically be a reach this early, but not when there is a talent like Deonte Brown from Alabama. If healthy in 2020, Brown will have had 45 plus starts for Nick Saban at guard.

18

Cade Mays

Offensive Tackle | Pittsburgh Steelers
Cade Mays Logo

With Ben Roethlisberger having one more year left in the tank, look for the Pittsburgh Steeler to stay relevant in 2020. However, the end is in sight and the Steelers will rely heavily on a loaded defense to stay in games next year.

The Steelers appear to want to wait to draft their next quarterback as Mason Rudolph appears to lack the talent. With Big Ben having two more seasons in him (at least), look for the Steelers to increase protection and get ahead of an aging offensive line. Cade Mays from Tennessee will be a day one starter at guard and can potentially move out to tackle with development.

19

DeVonta Smith

Wide Receiver | Indianapolis Colts
DeVonta Smith Logo

Is Philip Rivers the answer for the Colts? Not likely as his career was headed down while with the Chargers. However, defense and Jacoby Brissett can keep the Colts in the pack.

With some speculation that Andrew Luck could return at some point, why not the 2021 season? That play would help make sense of the Rivers signing. If that’s the case, look for the Colts to add a top receiver prospect in DeVonta Smith from Alabama. As the no. 1 receiver next season, look for Smith to shine like Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III.

20

Joe Tryon

Defensive End | Philadelphia Eagles
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Carson Wentz always finds a way to keep the Eagles competitive, but they are still a step away from being a true competitor. After going wide receiver in 2020, look for Doug Pederson to try and bolster his defense in 2021.

Unfortunately, edge rushers will be limited in the 2021 draft, but with the position so coveted in the NFL, Joe Tyron from Washington will still be a first-rounder with a productive senior season.  In 2019 Tyron has 8 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

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OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 15: Dylan Moses #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide defends during a game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 15, 2018, in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

21

Jay Trufele

Defensive Tackle | Dallas Cowboys
Jay  Trufele Logo

Perhaps no one had a better draft than the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, but let’s not forget…  They are still the Cowboys.  Dak Prescott is a solid quarterback, but not the one to push them into a Super Bowl contender.

With the lack of edge rushers, there will be a bigger push for an interior defensive lineman in 2021. Jay Tufele is a defensive tackle for USC that continues to improve each year. If Tufele can increase his sacks (6 in 2019) next season, he may move even higher in the first round.

22

Seth Williams

Wide Receiver | Miami Dolphins
Seth Williams Logo

Bill O’Brien and the Texans must hate picking in the first round, it feels like years since they have had one.  With the last piece of the Laremy Tunsil trade look for the Miami Dolphins to try and help their second-year quarterback.

Seth Williams is a big target receiver from Auburn who put up big numbers as a sophomore (830 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns).  With the Tigers expecting a big season in 2020, Williams can continue to increase his stock for the 2021 NFL draft.

23

Dylan Moses

Linebacker | Cleveland Browns
Dylan  Moses Logo

Is pick no. 23 optimistic for the Browns? Honestly, not at all with the talent on this roster. Last year's coaching staff will be exposed even more as Kevin Stefanski makes the full turnaround in only one season. After fine-tuning the roster in 2020 for the Stefanski scheme look for them to pick up the best available defender late in the first round.

While Parsons will be the first linebacker off the board in 2021, Dylan Moses from Alabama is the clear second right now. Moses is set up for a big season in 2020 after 45 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2019.  Mack Wilson would be happy to see a Crimson Tide alumnus after all the LSU Tigers drafted in 2020.

24

Creed humphrey

Center | Tennessee Titans
Creed humphrey Logo

The Titans will continue to pound the ball with Derrick Henry and play tough defense.  After overachieving in 2019, look for them to take a slight step back with teams catching on to Ryan Tannehill.

What better way to ground and pound than by adding an interior lineman? Creed Humphrey will be a three-year starter at center for Oklahoma, with the frame of a tackle.  At 6-foot-5 and 307-pounds, Humphrey will be heavily desired by NFL scouts.

25

Liam Eichenberg

Offensive Tackle | Minnesota Vikings
Liam Eichenberg Logo

With Kevin Stefanski out as the offensive coordinator in Minnesota, it will be interesting to see if the team can stay as productive. While Kirk Cousins is effective at quarterback, it doesn’t appear he can line up and consistently beat Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees.

The Vikings began the offensive line re-build with Ezra Cleveland in 2020, but that line is still weak and needs some work. Liam Eichenberg is a Cleveland native and has a chance to shine next season at Notre Dame. It remains to be seen if returning to school will increase his stock for the 2021 draft.

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 28: Travis Etienne #9 of the Clemson Tigers carries the ball for a 53-yard touchdown reception against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second half during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019, in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

26

Travis Etienne

Running Back | Seattle Seahawks
Travis Etienne Logo

The Seahawks continue to win games even when their roster continues to lack talent.  Tremendous talent and the constant undervaluing of Russell Wilson have made the Seahawks a force. While they won’t have enough to win it all, they will certainly knock on some doors competing in the toughest conference in football the NFC West.

While the Seahawks should focus on protecting Wilson, his athleticism and playmaking skills will allow taking the top back in the draft, Travis Etienne from Clemson.  While many were shocked to see him return to college, he is poised for another huge year with Lawrence.

27

Jaylen Waddle

Wide Reciever | Green Bay Packers
Jaylen Waddle Logo

The Packers showed great promise in 2019 before getting smacked by the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers has enough to lead the Packers to a few more strong seasons, but the Saints and 49ers continue to lead the NFC.

Rodgers would have loved a wide receiver this year, but instead, they drafted his replacement.  The Packers won’t let that happen again and will go with the talented receiver Jaylen Waddle from Alabama. Wow, Alabama continues to crank out the skilled position players on offense (and defense).  Waddle will slide because of sharing balls with Smith but will be a great NFL wide receiver.

28

Jamie Newman

Quarterback | New Orleans Saints
Jamie Newman Logo

Drew Brees continues to impress in New Orleans, and now they have Jameis Winston on the roster. Don't look for either to be long-term solutions, but do look for the Saints to continue to win.

Jamie Newman will be a one-year starter at quarterback for Georgia, but with a talented roster, he could shine. the dual-threat quarterback will look to lead the Dawgs forward after Jake Fromm.

29

Xavier Thomas

Defensive End | Baltimore Ravens
Xavier Thomas Logo

The Ravens continue to evolve and had a tremendous draft in 2020.  After a disappointing 2019 season, look for the team to be hungrier than ever for success. Unfortunately, the Chiefs will get in their way, but Lamar Jackson will continue to shine in 2020.

Xavier Thomas is a name that may not be this high on some boards, but that is because of the depth on the Clemson roster. Thomas is an athletic pass rusher who needs to put on 15 pounds this offseason and could take the world by storm. A big senior year and lack of depth in the pass-rushing class for 2021 could help Thomas surge.

30

Paulson Adebo

Cornerback | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Paulson Adebo Logo

The Buccaneers are in win-now mode more than any team in the NFL with an aging Tom Brady at quarterback. While the Buccaneers will be tough competitors next season, they won’t be able to put down the defending champions. It will be a blast to watch, but don’t look for Brady to add to his ring collection in Tampa.

Paulson Adebo from Stanford was expected to declare for the 2020 draft and would have likely been a first-round pick. However, with a strong season in 2020, the cornerback could move even higher in the 2021 draft.

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STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 30: Running back Chuba Hubbard #30 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys looks for an opening against the Oklahoma Sooners in the fourth quarter on November 30, 2019, at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. OU won 34-16. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

31

Chuba Hubbard

Running Back | San Francisco 49ers
Chuba Hubbard Logo

The San Francisco 49ers have done things the right way. They have signed free agents and moved on from personnel who is demanding too much money. On top of that, they continue to dominate in the draft. After adding Trent Williams and Javon Kinlaw to the 2020 roster, the 49ers will be a force in the NFC, but not quite enough to hang with the Chiefs.

After building a dominant defense John Lynch will be out to find a way to beat the Chiefs next offseason. Chuba Hubbard is a running back from Oklahoma State that has broken about every record in college football. Hubbard will be the first Cowboy running back taken in the first round since Berry Sanders in 1989 who may be the difference-maker the 49ers need.

32

Quincy Roche

Defensive Line | Kansas City Chiefs
Quincy Roche Logo

It is tough to win back to back Super Bowls, but Patrick Mahomes is not your average quarterback. The Chiefs have found a way to make speed work as the Raiders have tried for so long. The defense will continue to give up points, but don’t look for them to get outscored often.

Quincy Roche is a college defensive end who may have the athleticism to move to linebacker at the next level. After three seasons at Temple and earning AAC defensive player of the year in 2019, Roche transferred to Miami for the 2020 season where he looks to continue his dominance.  Roche could jump up the charts with similar or more production is the ACC next season.

It’s difficult for anyone to predict what will happen next season, especially with injuries being a huge part of the game. The class is heavy again at offensive tackle, but a young defensive end could certainly move up draft boards quickly with not as much depth.

Next: 3 prospects to watch for the 2021 NFL Draft

At this point, let’s just hope the college and NFL season goes as planned so we can find out how accurate these picks are.