The Cleveland Browns are one of the most complete rosters in the NFL right now.
The team is expected to do well in 2021 and jump from a playoff contender to a Super Bowl contender thanks to an offseason revamp. With the team boasting a strong offense and improved defense, it’s hard to imagine what more the team needs to upgrade at this moment.
However, it’s always important to keep an eye on future needs. Even if the team does not necessarily need players right now, contracts expire and important decisions need to be made.
Going into the 2021 season, these are the positions that the Browns organization and Browns fans alike need to look at refueling during the offseason.
Look for the future at defensive end
Cleveland chose to avoid selecting a defensive end in the 2021 NFL Draft, and that may come back to bite the organization. Both Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley are on one-year deals, and there is no guarantee that either stick around to be the edge rusher opposite Myles Garrett in the coming years.
The team does not have a ton of youth waiting in the wings for a right defensive end. Players such as Curtis Weaver and Porter Gustin may improve as quality depth, but neither should be relied upon to be the future starter.
Though the college season has not started, there are some intriguing names that could be on the Browns’ draft radar in April. Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux is expected to be the top EDGE rusher in the class, and while he should not be anywhere near where the Browns pick, there are other options.
Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson is a prospect that could have gone in the first round last season, and he fits the mold that the current Browns like as a strong, athletic rusher. Players such as Ohio State’s Zach Harrison, Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders, Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, Purdue’s George Karlaftis, and Georgia’s Adam Anderson have also gotten some first-round hype in the early preseason.
Past the first round, though, there are some quality prospects. Florida’s Brenton Cox Jr. is insanely talented off the line but remains inconsistent. LSU’s Ali Gaye is expected to rise as he improves from the 2020 season. Washington’s Zion Tupuola-Fetui is an insanely talented rusher who may fall due to an offseason injury. Clemson’s Xavier Thomas regressed in 2020 after showing flashes earlier in his career.
Ultimately, the 2022 EDGE class is a lot deeper than 2021’s, and it works out for the Browns if they do not retain anyone on the right side.