Cleveland Browns draft forecast: Zach Harrison, Tyler Scott top third-round possibilities

Chris Easterling
Akron Beacon Journal
Nov 26, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) pursues Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) during the second half of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium. Michigan won 45-23. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

No first-round pick can take a little bit of the starch out of the run-up to the NFL Draft. That's a reality the Browns will have lived in three of the five drafts dating back to 2019 thanks to high-profile trades.

The Browns will have to live that reality one more time next year. That's when the third of the three first-round picks they sent the Houston Texans in exchange fo r Deshaun Watson in 2022 will be used.

For the second year in a row, though, the Browns won't pick until the third round due to trades. A year ago, it was a draft-night deal that gave away their second-round pick; this time, it was the trade for Elijah Moore that sent No. 42 overall to the New York Jets .

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"I’d say each year is independent because each draft class is different," general manager Andrew Berry said at the NFL Owners Meetings last month. "Yeah, we went through an experience last year where we traded out 42 and got 68, took ( cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. ), and picked up two extra picks. I wouldn’t say that going through that was the reason we did the Elijah Moore trade. We just looked at it as an opportunity that made sense for us."

Emerson was more than serviceable as a rookie for the Browns. In fact, he appears like he's maybe one more good year away from becoming a foundational piece if he continues his upward trajectory.

What the Browns want to do now is find another instant contributor with their first pick in the draft, which is No. 74 overall. They acquired that pick from the Jets along with Moore, giving them two third-round picks.

Who could be there when the Browns pick at Nos. 74 and 98? Here's a look at each pick and five potential players, listed alphabetically, who could be available and on their radar when they get there.

Pick No. 74: Ohio State's Zach Harrison, Oklahoma's Marvin Mims among options

Kentucky running back JuTahn McClain (17) is stopped by Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell (31) during the first quarter of the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
  • Derick Hall, DE, Auburn
  • Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
  • Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma
  • Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan

The only thing the Browns have done thus far in free agency to address the linebacking corps is either run it back with their own free agents (Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki) or bring in more special teams-types (Matthew Adams). Campbell , the Iowa tackling machine, would fit in nicely, developing into the ideal middle-of-the-defense player. … Hall may very well not be there by the time this pick gets made. However, if he is, the Auburn edge rusher would provide a player with proven production at a very high level of college who could add to the rotation of ends opposite Myles Garrett. … Harrison is an incredibly intriguing player due to the nature athletic gifts he possesses. However, the gamble is on him finding another level in terms of production after going four years in Columbus without a season of more than 3.5 sacks. … The Browns aren't done adding to the receiving room, and the expectation is that they could with one of the two third-round picks. Insert Mims , who boasts the skillset of a vertical threat and is a product of a college — Oklahoma — that seems to be a favorite of this particular front office. … Smith's on this list in the case he happens to take a day-two tumble, because the talent and athleticism would indicate a player who'll be gone well before the second round ends. If he is, the Browns should sprint the pick up to the podium to help add a big run-stuffing defensive tackle.

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Pick No. 98: Cincinnati's Tyler Scott, Ivan Pace Jr. would provide a local feel

Cincinnati wide receiver Tyler Scott is tackled by Alabama  defensive back Brian Branch.
  • Andre Carter II, Edge, Army
  • Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati
  • Trey Palmer, WR, Nebraska
  • Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati
  • Byron Young, DT, Alabama

Carter needs some work putting a little bit more meat on his 6-foot-6 frame. However, the Army product is a fascinating project who could blossom into an absolute disruptive force off the edge, especially if he can learn from and operate in tandem with Garrett. … Pace , like Campbell at 74, would provide the Browns with a young linebacker who can grow into a core piece. It's his size (5-10, 231 pounds), not instincts or production, that has him down this far. … Assuming defense is more the Browns' focus at 74, this spot would be ideal for taking a flyer on a receiver who can fly. Palmer had a massive year in his one year at Nebraska with 71 catches and more than 1,000 receiving yards. Plus, he also spent three years at another program that seems to be popular with the current Browns regime, LSU. … Scott made a point at last month's NFL Combine to say he wasn't just a fast guy playing football, but one who is also dedicated to be a great all-around receiver. It would also make for a great story to have the Norton High School product come back home to Northeast Ohio. … There are two Byron Youngs in this year's draft, and both could certainly be options for the Browns. Why the Alabama version of Byron Young over the Tennessee version? Mostly because it gives them another interior lineman with solid college production, including four sacks last year as he bounced both inside and outside for the Crimson Tide.

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