With the Super Bowl occurring this Sunday, 30 of 32 NFL teams are already deep in offseason planning. The NFL draft is a multi-month and multi-event process. The most recent of those events was the Reese’s Senior Bowl which took place in Mobile, Alabama just last week. Over a hundred college seniors were in attendance all with the same goal, to continue their dreams of joining the NFL ranks.
The Senior Bowl isn’t usually a place where Andrew Berry and the Cleveland Browns’ front office usually finds talent. Through two complete draft classes, Andrew Berry has only selected one player 23 years of age or older. That would be Demetric Felton who was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. This may be changing this year. Due to COVID changing the college football landscape in 2020, we are seeing one of the oldest draft classes in recent memory. Many players had a great week of practice and raised their draft stock. Let us go over three that the Cleveland Browns should be targeting.
Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida State
Jermaine Johnson may have been the talk of the town last week in Mobile. The 6’6” and 259 pound senior showed out so well that he didn’t even have to show up to the last day of practice or the game itself. He was so confident of the reps he put on tape, he did not want to risk injury. The next step for him will be Florida State’s pro day and the NFL combine for testing. Expect a far bigger crowd spectating next time we see him on the field.
Johnson is a late breakout player who had a very productive senior season in 2021. He finished with 14 sacks which was good enough for fifth in the nation. This will be a very heavy defensive line draft class for Andrew Berry. Whether or not Jadaveon Clowney can be signed, an influx of youth and depth is needed at the position. Also, what better way for a rookie edge defender to learn. Operating under the guidance of two former number one overall picks can be huge for Johnson’s development.
Florida State was actually the third school that Jermaine Johnson spent his college career at. He had previous stops at both Independence Community College and Georgia before finishing as a red-shirt senior at Florida State. Johnson falls far outside the normal prospect this Browns front office has been targeting the past two draft classes. He just turned 23 this past January and will be closer to 24 by the time the 2022 season kicks off.
Read more about Jermaine Johnson in this writeup by our very own AJ Torres.
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
The Senior Bowl is always important for small school players. None have taken advantage of this more than North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson. Watson has all of the athletic traits that you would look for in an NFL wide receiver. He measures in at 6’4” and 211 pounds, also featuring 33” arms. This frame is combined with the athleticism of a reported low 4.4s 40 yard dash speed. Testing will be imperative going forward for Watson. The NFL draft combine could be one of the most important days in this man’s young career.
There were many highlight videos of Watson juking corners in the one on one drills. Now these drills generally favor the offensive player, but you cannot deny the quick twitch and fluid hips Watson displayed. His name first made rounds on the NFL draft circle when Trey Lance was coming out of North Dakota State. He was the top option for the 49er’s newest quarterback during their 2019 campaign. 2020 saw the cancellation of the Bisons football schedule outside of one lone showcase game that Lance requested as he prepared for the 2020 NFL draft.
As is standard with this senior bowl roster, Christian Watson falls on the older end of the spectrum for a draft prospect. As stated many times before, this is not ideal for the Cleveland Browns front office. Watson would be the oldest wide receiver taken by Andrew Berry. He would actually be the same age as third year player Donovan Peoples-Jones. Regardless, the tape and numbers don’t lie and this could be a valuable asset to the Browns offense in 2022 if the draft value were there.
Read more about the North Dakota standout in this profile by Kyler Cress.
Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
The final senior bowl standout to keep an eye on is former Georgia Bulldog and National Champion Devonte Wyatt. Wyatt is a big man measuring in at 6’3” and 315 pounds. Him and teammate Jordan Davis gave Georgia almost 650 pounds of interior pressure on the defensive front. He was a starter every year for Georgia and thus has plenty of reps on tape.
Reports out of the Senior Bowl were that Wyatt was straight up bullying people. The defensive interior is a huge need for the 2022 Cleveland Browns. The only two defensive tackles on the payroll are Jordan Elliot and Tommy Togiai. Both players are still waiting to break out in their young careers. Older prospects may not be the ideal, but given some draft value they may be the pick when on the clock.
More information can be found in this writeup by John Vogel.