The Cleveland Browns have been one of the most successful teams in the NFL in the past few seasons, reaching the playoffs three times and winning the AFC North twice.
They have a talented and balanced roster, led by quarterback Baker Mayfield, running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., tight end Austin Hooper, and a stout offensive line.
On defense, they have stars like defensive end Myles Garrett, cornerback Denzel Ward, safety John Johnson III, and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
However, no team is perfect, and the Browns have some areas of weakness that they will need to address in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft. Here are some of the holes in the Browns’ 2024 roster that they will look to fill with their draft picks.
- Edge rusher: The Browns have one of the best pass rushers in the league in Garrett, but they lack a consistent partner for him on the opposite side. Jadeveon Clowney was a solid addition in 2021, but he is a free agent after the 2022 season and may not be re-signed. Takk McKinley and Joe Jackson are also free agents, leaving only Curtis Weaver and Porter Gustin as options under contract for 2024. The Browns need to find a young and dynamic edge rusher who can complement Garrett and create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Some potential prospects in the 2023 draft class are Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon, Aidan Hutchinson from Michigan, George Karlaftis from Purdue, and Kingsley Enagbare from South Carolina.
- Linebacker: The Browns have invested heavily in their linebacker corps in recent years, drafting Owusu-Koramoah in the second round in 2021 and Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki in the third round in 2019 and 2018 respectively. They also signed veteran Malcolm Smith in free agency and traded for Ronnie Harrison Jr. from the Jaguars. However, none of these players have established themselves as reliable starters or playmakers for the Browns. Walker Jr. is a free agent after the 2022 season and may not be brought back. Smith is also a free agent and will be 34 years old in 2024. Takitaki has been inconsistent and injury-prone, while Harrison Jr. has been more of a hybrid safety than a true linebacker. Owusu-Koramoah has shown flashes of potential, but he is still raw and undersized for the position. The Browns need to find a linebacker who can be a leader and a difference-maker for their defense, someone who can cover tight ends and running backs, stop the run, and blitz when needed. Some potential prospects in the 2023 draft class are Devin Lloyd from Utah, Christian Harris from Alabama, Nakobe Dean from Georgia, and Brandon Smith from Penn State.
- Wide receiver: The Browns have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league in Landry and Beckham Jr., but they may not be together for much longer. Landry is a free agent after the 2022 season and may not be re-signed due to his age (30) and salary cap implications. Beckham Jr. is under contract until 2024, but he has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency since joining the Browns in 2019. He has also been rumored to be unhappy with his role and chemistry with Mayfield. The Browns may decide to trade or release him before his contract expires. The Browns have some depth at wide receiver with Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins, Anthony Schwartz, and KhaDarel Hodge, but none of them have proven to be reliable or productive starters. The Browns need to find a wide receiver who can be a long-term replacement for Landry or Beckham Jr., someone who can stretch the field, make contested catches, run crisp routes, and create separation. Some potential prospects in the 2023 draft class are Garrett Wilson from Ohio State, Treylon Burks from Arkansas, Drake London from USC, and John Metchie III from Alabama.
Final Thoughts: Cleveland Browns 2024 Roster Holes and Draft Prospects
The Cleveland Browns have made significant strides in recent years and have a talented and well-balanced roster that has led them to multiple playoff appearances. However, as with any team, there are areas of weakness that need to be addressed to maintain their success.
The 2023 NFL draft will be crucial for the Browns to fill the gaps in their 2024 roster and continue to build a championship-caliber team.
One area of concern is edge rusher. While the Browns have a superstar in Myles Garrett, they lack a consistent pass rusher on the opposite side. This weakness could be exploited by opposing teams and limit the Browns’ defensive effectiveness.
The 2023 draft class has some exciting prospects that could be a perfect fit for the Browns, such as Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon, Aidan Hutchinson from Michigan, George Karlaftis from Purdue, and Kingsley Enagbare from South Carolina.
Another area of weakness is linebacker. The Browns have invested in this position in recent years, but none of their players have established themselves as reliable starters or playmakers.
Adding a difference-maker at linebacker could solidify the Browns’ defense and take them to the next level. The 2023 draft class offers some promising prospects, including Devin Lloyd from Utah, Christian Harris from Alabama, Nakobe Dean from Georgia, and Brandon Smith from Penn State.
Finally, wide receiver is another area of concern for the Browns. While they have a dynamic duo in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., both players’ futures with the team are uncertain.
The Browns need to find a long-term replacement for one or both of these receivers to maintain their offensive potency.
The 2023 draft class has some excellent prospects that could fit this role, such as Garrett Wilson from Ohio State, Treylon Burks from Arkansas, Drake London from USC, and John Metchie III from Alabama.
The 2023 NFL draft will be crucial for the Cleveland Browns to address the holes in their 2024 roster and maintain their success in the NFL. By targeting edge rushers, linebackers, and wide receivers, the Browns can continue to build a championship-caliber team and compete at the highest level.