Possibilities for the Cleveland Browns at the 44th pick, my best guess of the selection

The Cleveland Browns are focused on the NFL Draft, general manager Andrew Berry said Friday. Even though they have irons in the fire to potentially fill holes in the roster, it’s unlikely anything will change until Thursday. So, with all the prep done, who are the Browns looking at with the 44th pick in the NFL Draft?

The Browns are going to stick to their roster and take the player they feel is the best with a long-term focus. All things being equal, I expect the Browns to come to a defensive end. It’s not only one of the most valuable positions on the pitch, but they desperately need a succession plan.

Even if they re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, they need more behind him and Myles Garrett, but they also need to find a way forward that doesn’t require them to enter free agency every year in search of a starter. If they can hit on the pick, it becomes a massive cost saving that helps offset the cost of Garrett’s deal, giving them more flexibility overall.

Houston’s Logan Hall is an intriguing option. He can play a strong baseline with the ability to hit inside like Clowney did. Hall has a good size and there are those who believe his best football may be ahead of him.

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However, I don’t think Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods is married to having that big base end that can kick the inside. On the contrary, Clowney provided a unique opportunity to operate that way and he matched his defense to the talent he had. When Woods was with the Denver Broncos, he was more than comfortable playing with Von Miller as a standing rusher.

The Browns could absolutely make a trade from this position, possibly up or down. They’re unlikely to drop completely in the first round, but they could move up a few places if they target a specific player. It seems more likely the Browns will go down, adding asset drafts in the process.

Given the large number of options, the Browns might feel comfortable looking to earn picks while ending up with a player they want. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Browns fell three spots from the 41st pick to the 44th pick, securing the Indianapolis Colts’ 160th pick in the draft. They selected safety Grant Delpit at 44, then center Nick Harris at the 160th pick. Both are expected to start for the Browns in 2022. Meanwhile, the Colts are more than happy with the trade, having selected reigning All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor.

The Browns made a similar trade in the third round, sending the 74th pick and 244th pick to the New Orleans Saints to drop 14 spots in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick. In the 88th pick, the Browns have took defensive tackle Jordan Elliott and with the 2021 third-round pick, 91st overall, the Browns selected wide receiver Anthony Schwartz.

Handicapping the pick, I think Drake Jackson is the likeliest choice for the Browns, either with the 44th pick or after a trade. I’m not confident in that prediction, but Jackson fits so much with what the Browns liked about the outlook. He has the potential to be a star in front of Garrett, bolstering a defensive line that desperately needs an infusion of talent if this team hopes to challenge for the Super Bowl.

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