5 Edge rushers Cleveland Browns should be tracking as they approach NFL Draft
By John Suchan
We are motoring quickly toward the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City beginning with the first round taking place on April 27th. The Cleveland Browns have been busy this off-season in picking up new players through free agency like defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. They also traded for wide receiver Elijah Moore from the New York Jets.
With that recent trade, the Browns moved back in the draft and now hold the No. 74 pick — which will be their first selection. They then have two picks in the fourth round and five more picks beyond that. While Cleveland seems to have shored up many glaring needs, there are still a few areas on the team that could definitely use more depth.
One of those areas includes the edge rushing position. In this year's class, there are some excellent athletes and skilled players at this important position that would be good backups for Cleveland and could eventually become starters.
Myles Garrett is currently the star of the Browns defensive front, but he won't have his sidekick Jadeveon Clowney around as he's a free agent and made it known after the season he was not going to return to the team. That leaves a few relatively new guys playing at the edge including recently signed free agent Ogba Okoronkwo. They also have Isaiah Thomas and Alex Wright returning for their second seasons.
Let's tackle what other college prospects might be a good fit in Cleveland if they get drafted in the mid-rounds of this draft. Some of these players may be better fits than others based on those Browns general manager Andrew Berry's guardrails of drafting talent which include being a bit younger than your average Joe.
Browns No. 5 Edge Rusher: Karl Brooks, Bowling Green
Karl Brooks played at Bowling Green, which isn't exactly a juggernaut for college football and that's the biggest issue with selecting him in this draft. He didn't play against the best in college football so, while he has statistics that are eye-popping we won't know for sure how good he'll actually be in the NFL.
Brooks had a somewhat disappointing NFL Combine performance back in February and didn't overwhelm the scouts either at his recent Pro Day so that only has added to the doubters. However, on the field, he was fantastic.
He finished with 10 sacks this past season. He tallied 27.5 for his career and also racked up 167 tackles including 46 for losses.
The narrative on Brooks is that he has a natural and instinctive feel for the game and you can always expect to see him near the ball. He's a hard-nosed worker with a high motor.
He's a bit older in this group as he'll be turning 23 years old in May, so I'm not sure if the Browns will be head over heels in pursuing him. However, most scouting projections have him being picked anywhere from the fourth round and beyond. This would be a low-risk and high-reward type pick, especially if he were still available in the sixth or seventh round.