Who has a better rookie class than the Browns?
By: Michael Welsh
It is not common for a team to hit on so many players in one draft that all contribute immediately. In the past, Cleveland would be drafting players in all rounds to be immediate starters. That wasn’t always the prettiest scene. This year the Browns arguably had the best draft in all of football, but everyone just needed to wait and see how it would play out on the field. The only team that comes close to the level of the production in Cleveland so far are the Chargers. Between the two, Cleveland gets the edge.
What Andrew Berry has done as the General Manager of the Browns in two years is nothing short of spectacular. He has addressed needs in both free agency and the draft with countless smart moves and has proved to be a rising star in the front office. In the 2021 draft, it was no secret Cleveland needed help in the secondary and at linebacker. Andrew Berry addressed both of those needs in the first and second round with Greg Newsome and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Where Berry has shined as well in his drafting has been identifying talent in the later rounds. Several picks from the 2021 draft have already been contributing at a high level in the young season.
Greg Newsome II – CB (1st round pick)
From day one, Greg Newsome was at the top of Andrew Berry’s draft board. The pick came in extremely quick once the Browns got on the clock, and before we knew it, Greg Newsome was in the brown and orange. In the first three games, Newsome has been incredibly impressive. He has a 70.1 Pro Football Focus grade and only 4 receptions allowed. In addition to that, he just hasn’t been targeted a lot so far due to such tight coverage week in and week out. Playing cornerback at the NFL level is one of the hardest positions, especially for a rookie. And Greg Newsome hasn’t looked like a rookie at all.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – LB (2nd round pick)
JOK was the pick that most Browns fans were excited about more than anyone else. He was projected to be a first round pick, but fell due to a rumored heart condition that has since been proven to be false. Andrew Berry wanted him so Cleveland traded up to get him in the second round. All he has done at the pro level is turn heads and play at an elite level each game. He is currently graded at 90.1 per Pro Football Focus, which leads all linebackers in the NFL. He has displayed next-level play recognition and pursuit on ball carriers. Browns fans should be very excited about him, he’s an All-Pro in the making. His versatility makes him a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Demetric Felton – RB/WR (6th round pick)
As mentioned earlier, Andrew Berry has shown that he finds talent in the later rounds. Demetric Felton caught his eye due to his explosiveness and versatility. In the pre-season, Felton was already making flashy plays left and right. During the regular season, he has picked up right where he left off, making multiple defenders miss on a wide receiver screen as he raced in for his first career touchdown. He has all the makings of a secret weapon that can make a real difference in a game. In addition to being an offensive weapon, he has looked great on kick and punt returns, which is encouraging since Cleveland has been looking for a weapon back there for years now. As he develops, he will only get better and better. He has an elite 92.5 grade from Pro Football Focus. Very impressive for a 6th round pick.
Anthony Schwartz – WR (3rd round pick)
Perhaps the player to most look like a rookie out of all of Andrew Berry’s draft picks, Anthony Schwartz has had a mix of good and bad moments thus far. In the opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he had 3 catches for 69 and a rush for 17 yards, really displaying his elite speed. The following week against the Texans, he looked more like a rookie stopping on a route that lead to a Baker Mayfield interception. Kevin Stefanski let him have it on the sideline. Other than that, Schwartz has shown promise and will likely take more time to develop. But his ability to stretch the field is very appealing to the Browns, who had issues doing that when Odell Beckham Jr went down with an injury last season.