CLEVELAND- Saying the Cleveland Browns won the 2021 NFL Draft may seem like a premature statement since the season didn’t start yet. However, when the Browns start the pre-season and the rookies get their first real game experience, two potential stars will shine brighter than the rest. Browns’ linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and receiver Anthony Schwartz could take the spotlight early when Cleveland takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars on August 14.
Owusu-Koramoah could’ve been a late first-round pick but many teams were concerned about a heart condition. He quickly debunked the heart condition and said it wasn’t an issue. The Browns desperately needed a lightning-fast linebacker and Owusu Koramoah fit the bill. One may question the Browns decision to select Owusu-Koramoah but team doctors specialize in player health and safety. If there was a heart condition, the Browns would’ve thought twice about their second-round selection. Owusu-Koramoah was quickly compared to Buccaneers’ linebacker LeVonte David. Owusu-Koramoah is a fast linebacker but not necessarily overpowering with hit power. The game film proves he is a fast and “twitchy” linebacker who can make plays in the blink of an eye.
The comparison should generate excitement in Cleveland considering the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, in no small part due to great defensive play. It looked like Andrew Berry adopted the Buccaneers way of building the team and applied to the Browns 2021 off-season. The Browns made several upgrades on defense with the additions of Safety John Johnson III, Cornerback Troy Hill, Cornerback Greg Newsome II (first-round pick), Defensive End Jadaveon Clowney and Owusu-Koramoah. The Browns defense struggled against passes last season despite the number of turnovers forced.
What about receiver Anthony Schwartz out of Auburn? Who is he and why was he selected so late? Schwartz is the fastest receiver of the 2021 draft class. Yes, he is faster than Rondale Moore and Jaylen Waddle although the contrast isn’t a gaping one. Schwartz recorded the fastest 40 yard-dash time of the receivers with a time of 4.25 seconds. To put that in perspective, he can gain a first down in less than 1.15 seconds after a catch. The result gained the Browns attention and the team was more than happy to draft him. He will need to improve his route running but that’s something the coaches can help him with. You can’t coach speed and having a 6’0″ version of Tyreek Hill is a draft steal. Ok, maybe it’s too early to make that comparison, but the potential of Schwartz being a Hill-type of player which generates buzz before the season begins.
The AFC North is typically the toughest or one of the toughest divisions in the entire NFL. If Pittsburgh maintains its consistent level of success, there could be a three-team race to the top. Even if that is not the case, Cleveland and Baltimore will compete for the AFC North king.