With the NFL offseason well underway as the "legal tampering" period of free agency has begun, the Cleveland Browns and general manager Andrew Berry are brainstorming ways to improve their roster in order to compete for a Super Bowl.
After making one of the biggest splashes of all time last offseason by signing quarterback Deshaun Watson, the time is now to turn this Cleveland franchise into a winner. Particularly after re-working the record contract that Watson received to create $35 million in cap space, the Browns must capture the moment and round out this roster.
While the biggest moves are always more likely to come in free agency or via trade, especially for a team that does not have a first-round pick, the NFL Draft is where a general manager really pulls their weight. Bringing in big-name, impactful veterans will be vital to the team's success, but rounding out a roster with talent and depth through the draft can take the franchise to another level.
In this exercise, the Browns land two explosive offensive weapons early on, while adding valuable depth throughout the roster.
Cleveland Browns Round 2, Pick 43: Darnell Washington, Tight End, Georgia
Darnell Washington is an absolutely HUGE human being, at 6-foot-7 and 264 pounds. Browns fans think David "Chief" Njoku is big, but his 6-foot-4, 247 pounds frame pales in comparison to the 21-year old Georgia Bulldog.
Nonetheless, pairing the two would be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. These guys can both absolutely impose their will, whether it is blocking the run game or going up for a jump ball. While the Browns are expected to deploy more wide receivers in an anticipated "spread" offense in 2023, the impact that a duo of powerful tight ends can have should not be overlooked.
Specifically, with Washington, he's a dominant blocker, something that is rare with young tight ends. He moves defenders with ease and showed that with comparison at the Combine:
What Washington can also do, it make some very impressive catches. You can see on tape that if you deliver the ball in his general area, he is likely going to come down with the catch. He showed this as well at the Combine with an eye-popping one-handed snag:
Now Washington isn't the most fleet of foot and isn't the smoothest route runner, but he still brings a lot to the table as a receiver. His big frame shield off defenders, his hands are second-to-none, and he is an absolute tank to bring down with the ball in his hands. His stats at Georgia are not notable at all, but you can see the impact he had on tape. Further, at UGA he was paired with another top tight end in Brock Bowers. He would be able to fill a similar role alongside Njoku in Cleveland.
Browns fans may be appalled at the thought of selecting a tight end with their first pick in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, given the team's current needs and holes in their roster. But I believe that is what free agency and trades are for.
They have already addressed center and defensive tackle, and I think it is only a matter of time before they add a safety as well. to a point, fill all of the holes that you have prior to the NFL Draft, giving you flexibility when picking players. The Draft should be used to add the best, most talented players, regardless of need, and it would be hard to pass on the upside of Washington.