3 draft picks Browns got right and 2 moves they will regret

Zak Zinter
Zak Zinter / G Fiume/GettyImages

With rookie minicamp underway, the Cleveland Browns are getting a close look at the younger players on their roster. It's a good chance for the draft picks to get acquainted with their new roles and a huge opportunity for the undrafted free agents to prove they belong in the NFL.

As the coaching staff gets a long look at each of these players, let's take a minute to look back at the 2024 NFL Draft and identify three selections that will pay off and two decisions that the front office might regret.

Browns pick they got right: Michael Hall, Jr.

Cleveland's first pick came at No. 54 overall, where they landed Michael Hall, Jr. from Ohio State. A product of Streetsboro High, Hall is thrilled to return to his hometown and is a perfect fit for this defense. The lone knock on him coming out of OSU was his size (6-foot-3 and 290 pounds), something he laughed off. General manager Andrew Berry wasn't concerned either, saying he wants athletic players at the 3-tech.

"It's not a space-eating position for us," Berry said via Daniel Oyefusi of ESPN. "We want guys who can move. And so our prototype for the position is going to look a little bit different than other schemes in the league."

Hall joins a crowded room with Shelby Harris and Maurice Hurts ahead of him. Even so, it's going to be tough to keep him off the field for long due to his explosiveness.

Browns move they will regret: Not trading back in any round

It's hard to say Cleveland didn't get maximum value with every selection because they did. Still, it would have been nice to see them move down at least once throughout the weekend.

With just six picks — and none in Round 1 or Round 4 — it would have been beneficial to pick up some extra capital. Berry said they considered it but in the end, felt their roster was strong enough that they didn't need to make any moves. That may be true but they could wind up regretting not finding a way to add more in the mid-rounds.

Browns pick they got right: Nathaniel Watson, LB

One of the value selections for Cleveland was Nathaniel Watson from Mississippi State. The 6-foot-2, 233-pounder spent six seasons with the Bulldogs and was teammates with Martin Emerson. Watson joked about Emerson joining Mississippi State after he did — yet Emerson is already in year three as a pro.

Watson, who turns 24 in September, slid into the later rounds due in part to his age. Another concern was his coverage skills. Having said that, Watson is an old-school linebacker who has no problem shutting down the opposing team's rushing attack. He will be an excellent replacement for Anthony Walker, Jr. on early downs.

Browns move they will regret: Not moving a veteran for extra picks

If Cleveland wasn't willing to trade back, they should have considered swapping more veterans for Day 3 picks. Ahead of the draft, they sent Leroy Watson to the Tennessee Titans and ended up with the 227th pick in exchange. With that selection, they landed South Dakota cornerback Myles Harden, who is getting a lot of love as a potential late-round gem.

With the depth they have at running back, wide receiver, cornerback, and defensive end, they might have been able to get a late-round pick in exchange for someone else who will wind up being released. Considering how well they were doing in the draft, that might have been a huge swing in value for them.

Browns pick they got right: Zak Zinter, Guard

At pick No. 85 the Browns added Michigan guard Zak Zinter. They weren't expected to target a guard that early but the pick makes a ton of sense. Not only is he arguably the safest selection they made but the front office could have a tough decision on their hands in 2026 when both Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller enter free agency.

By then, Zinter will be entering his third season and will be ready to take on a full-time starting role. Until then, he can serve as a trustworthy backup guard.

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