NFL draft: Browns trade up, pick Notre Dame’s Owusu-Koramoah

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was dropping quickly in the second round of the NFL draft, much faster than the Browns ever expected.

And as he got closer and closer, the team’s anxiety level rose dramatically.

“We probably had a building of 30 people all pacing together,” general manager Andrew Berry said, laughing.

They went from pacing to pouncing.

Afraid the do-everything Notre Dame linebacker might get taken before it was their turn, the Browns traded with Carolina and moved up seven spots to select Osuwu-Koramoah with the No. 52 overall pick on Friday night.

Cleveland dealt the No. 59 pick and one of its two third-round selections (No. 89) to the Panthers to get Owusu-Koramoah, who had been projected to go in the first round and may have been bypassed because he’s undersized.

“We certainly didn’t expect him to be there when he was,” Berry said. “But we’re fortunate that he was and we think he’s going to add something to our team.”

Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta said the Browns considered taking Osuwu-Koramoah at No. 26 before selecting Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II on Thursday.

As the second round unfolded, the Browns, who have spent the offseason overhauling their defense, couldn’t believe Owusu-Koramoah was in their range,

“We were pretty happy,” DePodesta said. “There was a lot of pacing going on upstairs once we got to about pick 42, 43, 44, just trying to figure out if there was a way we could make it happen. So we were very excited about this.”

He may be only 6-foot-1, but Owusu-Koramoah made plays all over the field for the Fighting Irish. He can rush the passer, cover receivers and make tackles from sideline to sideline. Owusu-Koramoah had 142 tackles and seven sacks in two seasons.

“We really do see him as the classic fit in this defense at Will (weakside) linebacker because of his range, speed and coverage ability,” Berry said. “The other thing with Jeremiah is his versatility as well. They really walked him out as a nickel or dime, played him at Will, played him at Mike (middle) and so that allows us to get creative when we get into some of our personnel packages.”

In the third round, the Browns added more offensive speed in Auburn wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, selecting him 91st.

The pick was announced on stage by Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett, whose muscles threatened to tear apart his suit jacket as he led the crowd in “Here we go, Brownies” chants.

Schwartz had the fastest 40-yard dash time this spring at the NFL’s pro day circuit, 4.26 seconds. The 6-foot, 180-pound Schwartz caught 54 passes for 636 yards and three touchdowns last season.

After Odell Beckham Jr. and Jojo Natson suffered season-ending injuries in 2020, the Browns lacked a burner able to stretch defenses vertically and Schwartz should help fix that.

“Every time I get the ball I’m going to score, and it doesn’t matter how I’m going to do it,” Schwartz said. “I’m either going to run through you, run around you or I’m gonna just burn you. That’s been my thing ever since I started playing football.”

Owusu-Koramoah was thrilled when he got the call from the Browns, knowing they wanted him badly and how he can impact the defense.

“I told my mom I am about to go outside and run on the beach, maybe run a mile or two,” he said on a Zoom call from Virginia. “The coaches have a great system, a system that is not based off of perfection and guys that need to just be all structure.

“The system is really a structured system that allows you to fly around and make plays.”

The 21-year-old is the latest addition to Cleveland’s defense, which has been almost completely remade this offseason through free agency and this draft.

The Browns also received the No. 113 pick in the deal with Carolina.

Owusu-Koramoah’s speed should allow the Browns to line him up at several positions, but the team envisions him primarily as a linebacker.

On Thursday night, with Cleveland at center stage as host of this year’s draft, the Browns drafted Newsome, an ultra-confident 20-year-old who is expected to compete for a starting job with Greedy Williams this summer.

After he was picked, Newsome was contacted by Williams, who continues to recover from a nerve injury in his shoulder that kept him out last season.

“That just tells you who Greedy is as a person,” Newsome said on a Zoom call. “I don’t know him, but he’s a guy who just wants the best for the team. He’ll do whatever he can do for the team to win and that’s definitely somebody I want to connect to.”

The Browns will head into Saturday’s final day with six more selections, including three in the fourth round.

Bengals get O-line help

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals got some help for their offensive line Friday night, taking Clemson tackle Jackson Carman with their second-round pick in the NFL draft.

The Bengals got the 6-foot-5, 335-pound Cincinnati-area native with the 46th pick after trading the 38th to the New England Patriots. Cincinnati got two more picks in the trade, the 122nd and 139th.

Cincinnati then used the sixth pick in the third round to get a pass-rushing specialist in Texas linebacker/defensive end Joseph Ossai.

After making a splash by taking star LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the first round, the Bengals turned in the second to one of their greatest areas of concern — protecting second-year quarterback Joe Burrow.

Carman, who at left tackle protected the blind side of college football’s most valuable quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, likely will be shifted to guard and be expected to play a lot right away.

The 21-year-old played 1,934 snaps over 40 career games with 27 starts in three years at Clemson.

“He’s a big physical lineman that’s got good nimble feet and gives us really good position flex at both guard and tackle,” Cincinnati offensive line coach Frank Pollack said. “He’s going to come in and compete for a starting spot at guard, and at tackle in the future if and when needed.”

Carman grew up in Fairfield, north of Cincinnati, idolizing Bengals Hall of Fame lineman Anthony Munoz.

“I could not picture a better scenario,” Carman said. “This is crazy, just thinking where life is a journey and where the game of football is taking your life and returning back to my family.”

A red flag was Carman’s health. He played the last five games of the 2020 season with a herniated disk in his back and had surgery Jan. 19. He said he’s recovering well.

The Bengals — 4-11-1 in 2020 — gave up the third-most sacks in the NFL and lost Burrow, the top overall pick in the 2020 draft, to a season-ending knee injury in a Week 11 loss to Washington when the pocket collapsed on him.

“That’s what I do,” Carman said. “I blocked for the No. 1 pick this year, so it’s the same thing — coming in and doing my job at the highest level. It’s a blessing to be able to protect Joe Burrow. It’s even crazier knowing I was just playing against him two years ago. So it’s really an amazing, full-circle experience.”

The Bengals line should be improved. They already signed free agent tackle Riley Reiff, a former Viking, and hope young tackle Jonah Williams, a first-round pick in 2020, can stay healthy after missing the final six games of the season with a knee injury.

After trading down Friday, the Bengals watched three good offensive tackle prospects taken off the board — Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg and Walker Little of Stanford — before they picked Carman.

“We felt like there was going to be some good options there, just moving back eight spots,” coach Zac Taylor said. “We got some ammunition for later in the draft. Really, even in hindsight, we’re feeling really good about our decision. We got a guy we were really high on.”

Taylor said he was impressed with the way Carman conducted himself in the talks they’ve had.

“There’s a lot of things we like about this guy,” Taylor said. “He can anchor, pass protect, he gets great movement in the run game. He’s really a good athlete. He has high, high football intelligence. Just talking to this kid over Zoom the last couple of weeks, it’s really impressive how quickly he’ll walk in and be able to understand the schemes that we’re going to employ.”

In Ossai, the Bengals filled another need by getting a relentless edge rusher. With an injury-depleted defensive front in 2020, they were last in the NFL with 17 sacks.

Ossai played four fewer games in his junior season in 2020 than his sophomore season but still set career highs in sacks (5.5), tackles for loss (15.5), and forced fumbles (three).

“You look at the guy and he jumps off the tape,” defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. “He’s explosive, he has great length to him, he brings some position flex. He plays the game the right way, plays extremely hard. Just excited about what he brings to the table.”

The Associated Press

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