How free agency gave the Browns a perfect draft strategy

2018 NFL Draft
2018 NFL Draft / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Coming into the 2023 offseason, it was no secret that Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry would do whatever it took to improve the roster from a season ago to help ensure a playoff berth. There were glaring holes throughout the roster, but those were surely addressed.

Berry was all in on the top NFL free agents, but couldn't bring them home. Some fans were upset and acted as if the world was falling, yet Berry went out and filled the holes with quality veterans that will be upgrades to their predecessors.

Defensive tackle was a position that hurt the Browns more than most a season ago, so what did Berry do? He went out and signed Dalvin Tomlinson away from Minnesota and he was one of the top three-to-five players at the position.

John Johnson III was signed a few years ago to sure up the back end of the defense, but it just didn't work out the way anyone anticipated. He will be released post June 1, saving Cleveland roughly $9 million. Berry went out and got Super Bowl champion Juan Thornhill as his replacement.

EDGE rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo showed a lot of upside for the lowly Texans a season ago, so Berry decided to scoop him up as well. Pairing him opposite side of Myles Garrett should get him a lot more looks to get after the quarterback, especially with new defensive coordinator Jim Schwarrtz.

The Browns needed another weapon or two for Deshaun Watson and Berry went out and traded the 42nd pick in the NFL Draft to the Jets for third-year wideout, Elijah Moore. Marquise Goodwin was also added in free agency, so that was yet another hole Berry filled.

Along with outside names, Cleveland brought back center Ethan Pocic and linebackers Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki. The team can and (likely) will add more free agents, but this class has been pretty, pretty, pretty good. One name that could be brought in could be defensive tackle Al Woods, who was in for a visit last week. CBS Sports gives the Browns a B+ for the moves they've made.

So what does that mean for the Browns and the 2023 NFL Draft?

The Browns can literally do whatever they want in the draft as free agency gave them the best strategy; draft the best player available.

There are so many different routes that Berry and company can go and that is really ideal for any NFL team, especially one trying to get back to the playoffs.

Before we move farther into specific positions the team could possibly look at, let's discuss something fans never really notice. That is the fact that rookies, especially ones drafted in the third round - where the Browns will begin their draft this season - are not deigned to come in and be All-Pro players.

That notion is simply unrealistic. Rookies who are drafted in the third round or later are not supposed to come in and be All-Pro caliber players right off the bat. Yes, there are players who do that, but fans should not rely on that, no matter who the GM is.

Now, back to positions the Browns could focus on. Cornerback is one of the positions where depth is most needed, mainly due to the size of the corners and the toll their bodies take making tackles. DPD's own Elliot Kennel says the Browns could add some speed in the third round of the NFL Draft, and that would be beneficial for Cleveland in 2023 and beyond.

If the Browns decide not to go the cornerback route, they could go any number of ways, including safety, EDGE, wide receiver, and defensive tackle. Randy Gurzi, also of DPD, gives you a player from each of those four positions that he says could be a perfect fit for Cleveland.

Free agency is to fill holes on the roster where the draft is used to add depth. With how good Berry did in free agency, the Browns have a plethora of options to exercise here in a few weeks.

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