Thursday will mark the last time Browns don't pick in Round 1 of NFL Draft

The Browns will watch the last of another team drafting with their first round pick
Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

It's no secret that the Cleveland Browns gave up quite the haul to acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans back in 2022. On Thursday, the NFL Draft gets underway, but for the third consecutive year, Cleveland will not be a part of the festivities, barring a trade, of course.

The Browns finished second in the AFC North a season ago, which would have netted them pick No. 23 in this year's draft, but that pick was used in the trade for Watson. The Texans - who have done a masterful job with the drafted picks they acquired to build a roster that can be a threat for years to come - sent that No. 23 pick to the Vikings, who could use it in a package to try and trade up for a quarterback. That last part could play a part in future drafts for Cleveland, but we'll circle back to that.

Last year, Houston used the No. 12 pick that would have been the Browns, in a trade package to trade up to No. 3 to draft defensive end Will Anderson Jr. a pick after using their own No. 2 pick to draft quarterback C.J. Stroud. The tandem was named Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year, respectfully. The Browns have nothing to show for that first round.

The trade for Watson was and still is highly controversial, especially when you add on the fact that the Browns gave him the highest-guaranteed contract in NFL history, but the former Clemson Tiger has only played in 12 of a possible 34 games. He missed the first 11 games of the 2022 season when he served his suspension and then missed 11 games last season when he suffered a shoulder injury. That is not ideal considering the nature of the trade, what the Texans have done with those picks, and the money Watson is owed.

At the end of the day, Watson needs to be healthy and play good football this upcoming season. So far this offseason, it seems as if Watson is progressing in his rehab from shoulder surgery, which should excite Browns fans, well, sort of. Let's play devil's advocate for just a second. Say Watson plays poorly this year and next year the Browns get a first-round pick again (barring a trade, of course), which could be packaged to move up to draft a quarterback. This would allow the rookie to sit for a season or two before they could potentially get out of the Watson deal. Just something to think about.

While Thursday night won't be all that fun for Browns fans, they still get to enjoy the rest of the draft, where rosters are deeper built. The Browns have the 54th pick in the draft and could go a bevy of different ways. One possibility is going after a wide receiver, and Dawg Pound Daily's own Randy Gurzi gives you who he would take in his latest 7-round mock draft.

As long as a trade does not happen from now until the 2025 NFL Draft, this Thursday should be the final time for the foreseeable future that the Browns won't pick in the first-round.

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