Cleveland Browns: Greg Newsome II could be key contributor from jump

Greg Newsome II, Browns mock draft. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Greg Newsome II, Browns mock draft. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns selected Greg Newsome II in the first round, which was sensible.

The Cleveland Browns could be primed to follow up their 2020 campaign with a deeper run in the postseason in 2021. Cleveland looks to be loaded offensively with quite the offensive line unit, arguably the NFL’s best running back duo and Baker Mayfield hopefully set to make further strides.

On the defensive side of the ball, although the Browns had their share of struggles last season, Cleveland landed the likes of John Johnson III, Troy Hill, Jadeveon Clowney, and Malik Jackson in free agency. And at minimum, the first two should make a significant impact for the Orange and Brown.

It was still evident heading into the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft that Cleveland could very well look to add another cornerback, though. Greedy Williams, the Browns’ 2019 second-round draft pick, missed all of last season because of a nerve issue in his shoulder, and it’s uncertain as to if he can be a notable contributor looking onward, realistically.

Cleveland seemed destined to select a cornerback early in this current draft to command the perimeter spot opposite Denzel Ward, at least in the first two rounds, perhaps. And Browns general manager Andrew Berry and company ended up doing so with their first pick 26th overall on Thursday night.

The Orange and Brown selected corner Greg Newsome II out of Northwestern with that pick, which was a sensible move.

Newsome could be a key contributor for the Browns for years to come.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Newsome had a solid 20 pass deflections in 17 career games at Northwestern and made his presence felt for the Wildcats in his time there.

He appears to be a polished prospect that could be quite the contributor for Cleveland from the jump, feasibly as the other starting perimeter corner opposite Ward, with Hill obviously primarily operating as the first slot corner.

Newsome, for further context, did have his share of looks going into his primary coverage at Northwestern when he was in there, but since 2019, for one, has only allowed one touchdown in 471 coverage snaps. That’s per Pro Football Focus.

And again according to Pro Football Focus’ data, Newsome conceded the lowest yardage per coverage snap of qualifying 2021 prospects last season.

One would ideally like for Newsome to have had more than one interception in his collegiate career with the Wildcats, but he has good timing for making plays at the catch point and could greatly help Cleveland in that way. He has the fluidity one wants as well.

In addition, his nice length and closing speed should be assets looking onward as well on the perimeter, more so provided he ends up taking on a starting role. And he’s active in run support.

The glaring knock, and the sole cause of reservations for some, though, relates to the injury concerns with Newsome.

As DPD’s Randy Gurzi pointed out, he “missed eight games in 2018 with an ankle injury and three games in 2019 and another three this past season in 2020.” Gurzi then noted how Newsome was not in the Big Ten championship contest because of a groin injury.

So, clearly, the injury concerns for Newsome are there. And considering how Ward has had problems being available, and the aforementioned Williams concerns/lack of certainty has been less than ideal, this could be another issue corner-wise.

That said, if he can be mostly healthy for the Browns, with his coverage polish/great coverage awareness/versatility in that realm highlighted by draft pundits, this could be a rock-solid starter and key contributor. That could very well be from the jump, too, and Cleveland’s upgraded secondary (also factoring in Grant Delpit feasibly)/seemingly pass rush could have another playmaking add in Newsome for years to come.

Next. 4 targets for the Cleveland Browns on Day 2. dark

Albeit we’ll ultimately have to see.