Browns Pick a Trio of Sooners

The Browns sure picked an odd year to load up on Oklahoma Sooners in the NFL Draft. While they are busy regretting not keeping the receipt to return their 2018 #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield (although I think only Walmart will take back used merchandise four years old) they added a trio from his former school during Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Cleveland selected DT Perrion Winfrey with the 3rd pick in the 4th round (#108 overall), WR Michael Woods II with the 24th pick in the 6th round (#202 overall), and DE Isaiah Thomas with the 2nd pick of the 7th round (#223 overall).

In my piece last week about the Browns’ history with late-round picks, I know I didn’t exactly get your hopes up about this year’s Day 3 picks, but these former Sooners add to what may turn into a fairly good group of draftees.

Winfrey, ESPN’s 4th ranked DT in the draft, is the most likely candidate to make an immediate impact, which is critical because the interior of the Browns’ defensive line left a lot to be desired last season. Winfrey measured 6’4”, 295 pounds and is considered by some to be undersized for his position; hard to get my head around that. After JUCO, he played two years at Oklahoma, making second-team All-Big 12 both seasons.

Winfrey didn’t make a ton of plays for the Sooners; he was only credited with 42 combined solo tackles and assists in 23 games, but of those 17 were for a loss – an impressive ratio. His stock shot up after his MVP performance in the Senior Bowl, where he had five tackles, three for losses and two QB sacks-probably the best game of his career.

Scouts say that because of his relative lack of girth and length, he can get caught up in traffic in the middle of the line and get pushed out of the way by a strong run-blocking line. The Browns did not get a run stuffer, which they need, but Winfrey does bring versatility, good lateral movement and a constantly running motor.

Don’t be surprised to see Perrion Winfrey taking a major role in the Browns defensive line rotation from week one, perhaps even making the starting lineup. It doesn’t look like he is related to Oprah, which is a shame (You get a Sooner and you get a Sooner and you get a Sooner…).

I don’t see the Browns’ next selection from Oklahoma, WR Michael Woods II, making that kind of impact. Woods, 6”1”, 198 pounds, didn’t even show up in some of the pre-draft rankings. He played three years at Arkansas and transferred to Oklahoma for last season. Woods did average over 19 yards per catch in 2020 but barely caught three passes a game over his last three years. Especially at a pass-happy school like Oklahoma; that’s not a lot.

He is known as a deep receiver without great speed. That sounds odd, but apparently, with his height he has had success winning 50/50 balls and tracks the long ball very well. He is also not considered much of a threat after the catch (I gotta have more YAC!).

I would picture Woods II making it onto the field in Hail-Mary situations or covering for injuries. If he doesn’t become an effective special teams player, though, he might not even make the team.

The final Sooner selected by the Browns was DE Isaiah Thomas, ESPN’s 17th-ranked DE in the draft. At 6’5”, 270 pounds, he’s not likely to be mistaken for his famous basketball namesake. He was also a teammate with Mayfield during his redshirt freshman year in 2017. He joined teammate Winfrey on the second team All-Big 12 in 2020 and 2021, primarily due to his effectiveness as a pass rusher. Thomas posted 8.5 sacks in 2020 and followed with eight in 2021.

Most of Thomas’ success has come rushing from the outside, where he can best use his speed and length. He has trouble with inside moves, especially disengaging blockers. If the Browns do not re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, they may need to move 3rd round choice Alex Wright into the lineup and use Thomas as a rotational player in passing situations. With Clowney, Thomas probably won’t be seeing much playing time, but could still be on the roster adding depth to the DL.

So overall, not a bad group of players. Maybe this time next year the Mayfield connection will be what players the Browns drafted with the (likely late-round) draft choices they received in trade for him.

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