Sadly, it’s official. The Cleveland Browns are out of playoff contention after an exhausting loss to New Orleans Saints. The season is over, but the hope for a Super Bowl championship isn’t.
Now we plan for the future of the Cleveland Browns franchise, despite having no first-round pick due to the Deshaun Watson trade, the Browns still have playmakers and future stars to pick up from in this year’s draft class.
Today’s article is Cleveland Sports Talk’s Cleveland Browns mock draft 3.0: New Years Edition
43rd Overall Pick – Arkansas LB Drew Sanders (Junior)
With the massive season-ending injuries of Anthony Walker, Sione Takitaki, & JOK happening during a brutal 2022 season for the Browns, the perfect replacement comes with the potential of Arkansas All-American LB Drew Sanders.
Sanders, a mountain of a man at 6’5 and 233 pounds, is regarded by most experts as the best hitter in the 2023 NFL Draft with his 9.5 sacks 2nd in the SEC to projected top-five draft pick, Alabama’s Will Anderson. Sanders also finished fourth for the 2022 season with 103 tackles and racked up 13.5 tackles for loss.
Since 2000, only two FBS players have totaled 95 or more tackles with at least 12 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception in a single season:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack (2013)
Arkansas LB Drew Sanders (2022) pic.twitter.com/reS2Sr2TIR
— Razorback Communications (@RazorbackComms) November 21, 2022
According to ESPN’s draft analyst Mel Kiper, Sanders is ranked No. 17 overall on Mel Kiper’s NFL Draft Big Board and also ranked as ESPN’s top-ranked inside linebacker prospect, which would be a massive steal for the Cleveland Browns franchise.
Career Stats: 136 total tackles, seven career pass deflections, three forced fumbles, 10.5 career sacks and one interception
Career Achievements: National Champion at the University Of Alabama (2020), First-team All-SEC (2022), Butkus Award Finalist (2022), & First-Team All-American (2022)
96th Overall Pick – Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon (Junior)
A true diamond in the rough prospect right here, as Devon Witherspoon and Martin Emerson, would become cemented as the best young CB duo in the NFL if they played together in Cleveland, not even including the superstar duo of Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome as the head honchos.
Devon Witherspoon just destroyed this Indiana RB 😱 pic.twitter.com/Uq31jvoVaY
— CFB SHARPS (@cfbsharps1) September 3, 2022
While unknown by casual college football fans, Witherspoon was a known nightmare amongst Big Ten circles during the 2022 college football season, letting his physical style of play contribute to his best season ever, with three INTs and 14 PBUs.
Career Stats: 160 total tackles, 25 pass deflections, and five career interceptions
Career Achievements: First-Team All-Big Ten (2022), Consensus All-American (2022), & Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back Of The Year (2022)
113th Overall Pick – USC DT Tuli Tuipulotu (Junior)
If Tuipulotu was a Cleveland Brown this season, his impact would have made him the best DT on the roster, that’s how horrific the past few seasons have been when considering the past Browns DTs.
Tuli Tuipulotu can wreak havoc from multiple alignments at 6'4", 290. Has a batted pass and a sack already tonight pic.twitter.com/MJaj4ffdVn
— Jake Schyvinck (@JakeNFLDraft) November 12, 2022
Arguably one of the best hustle players in this year’s 2023 NFL Draft, Tuli Tuipulotu plays with such fury and effort that would make any football scout happy, he will easily become a fan favorite of any NFL team he plays for in the near future.
Career Stats: 114 tackles, five passes defended, 20 sacks, & four forced fumbles
Career Achievements: 2x First-Team All Pac-12 (2021 & 2022), Unanimous All-American (2022), Pat Tillman Defensive Player of The Year (2022), & Polynesian Player of The Year (2022)
128th Overall Pick – Tulane EDGE Dorian Williams (Senior)
Dorian Williams is the definition of a proven leader within the Tulane Defense and an all-around legend in the program’s young history.
Williams has proven to be an absolute battle-tested baller that started out as an experienced special teams player, now he’s accredited with 298 tackles during his college football tenure.
Dorian Williams’ motor is unmatched. Watch him get chop blocked, get up and finish the QB off.
When watching the film, the motor is there every. single. play. He knows how to fly around the field and make play after play. A true leader of that Tulane defense. @dorianw24 pic.twitter.com/80Z2LdumZ5
— Joey and Logan (@Joe_and_Lo) December 14, 2022
The only knock on Dorian’s game is that he can sometimes struggle to shed blocks and hasn’t truly learned how to handle assignments within man coverage.
Career Stats: 298 tackles, 13 passes defensed, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles & two career interceptions
Career Achievements: 2nd team All-AAC (2020), Phil Steele All-American Athletic Conference 3rd Team (2021),
136th Overall Pick – Minnesota S Tyler Nubin (Senior)
With the development of Grant Delpit recently, We’ve decided not to make the safety position while also getting a top stud player like Tyler Nubin.
.@GopherFootball said gimme that! 🙌
Tyler Nubin is in the right place: pic.twitter.com/OwIGJk1VqS
— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) December 12, 2020
Nubin is the true definition of a lockdown defender with an outstanding eight career interceptions, we believe that he could be the eventual successor of John Johnson III by late next season.
Career Stats: 151 tackles,seven pass deflections, two forced fumbles & eight career interceptions
Career Achievements: Academic All-Big Ten (2020 & 2021), All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (2021), & All-Big Ten 2nd Team
144th Overall Pick – Princeton WR Andrei Iosivas (Senior)
Tired of big drops with the game on the line? WRs with no speed to get open? Or Anthony Schwartz making mistakes every chance he gets? Then meet Mr. Andrei Iosivas.
Princeton’s star WR Andrei Iosivas makes up in elite size & speed, with the former track star listed at 6’3” 205lbs, and runs 4.3 speed. Despite playing very average talent in the Ivy League throughout his college career, the potential is obviously there.
Princeton WR 9 Andrei Iosivas is a smart, heads-up player with great size and speed for the position. Ran the fastest-ever 60m (6.71) in the NCAA Heptathlon at 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships. Should be fun watching him in Mobile. https://t.co/GDJCsrOL6A pic.twitter.com/ERYDScIruS
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) November 10, 2022
And just imagine if Anthony Schwartz actually improves in the offseason as well, then double the trouble for NFL defenses everywhere.
Career Stats: 125 receptions, 1,909 receiving yards, & 16 receiving touchdowns
Career Achievements: 2nd Team All-Ivy League (2021), 1st Team All-Ivy League (2022), Senior Bowl Watchlist (2023)
175th Overall Pick – Pittsburgh OT Carter Warren (Senior)
This move is absolutely a depth move right here when drafting Pittsburgh’s Carter Warren, who would create stable protection in case of an injury on the offensive line.
Carter Warren, OT, Pittsburgh | NFL Draft Scouting Report https://t.co/b6pRgdwRae
— PFN News (@PFN365News) October 4, 2022
Putting any young offensive lineman next to Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller does wonder for Nick Chubb and Deshaun Watson’s future in Cleveland.
Career Achievements: 2nd Team All-ACC
206th Overall Pick – Cincinnati TE Josh Whyle (Senior)
The hometown kid & 2x All-AAC TE provides an amazing backup option behind TE David Njoku and helps with creating much-needed depth just in case Njoku gets hurt or anything.
2022 NFL Draft Prospect: Josh Whyle TE Cincinnati is going to be a problem for teams! Mismatch Nightmare, and a ton of talent. Look for his name to be talked about a lot this time next year if he decides to declare! #2022NFLDraft @JoshWhyle81 pic.twitter.com/cc5Nc4absE
— Robert Cardona (@CARDONAFAM29) April 28, 2021
Career Stats: 88 receptions, 1,062 receiving yards, & 19 receiving touchdowns
Career Achievements: 2nd Team All-AAC (2020), 1st Team All-AAC (2022)