The Cleveland Browns are hoping that their 2021 season prolongs well into the year 2022. Currently in position to take the lead in the AFC North with a win and a Baltimore loss this week, the Browns season has turned around from a struggling start.
Nothing is certain for the team, however. Their inconsistencies throughout the year continued Sunday against the Ravens when they almost blew the game.
Despite Cleveland’s chance to rise up the playoff seeding in Week 15, they also have a difficult finishing schedule. As seen throughout the year, the Browns could win their last four games or just as easily lose them.
With that in mind, fans of the team are of two minds: Playoffs and NFL draft. The NFL draft used to be Cleveland’s ‘Super Bowl’ but their playoff run in 2020 and heightened expectations for 2021 put it on the backburner.
Tuesday, ESPN’s Todd McShay posted his NFL Mock Draft 1.0 ($, subscriber). Mel Kiper and McShay were early to focus on the draft and their opinions draw a lot of attention. Not surprisingly, McShay has the Browns going wide receiver in the first round with the 16th pick:
Drake London, WR, USC*
This is a steal. London had 130-plus receiving yards in six of eight games this season, and his 88 catches rank 12th in the nation — despite the fact a fractured right ankle has kept him out since October. He can line up all over, threaten defenses with vertical speed, find his way open and come down with contested catches. The Browns’ 59.0% completion percentage when targeting wide receivers is 28th in the NFL, and they have to get Baker Mayfield a playmaker to catch the pass game up to the run game’s prowess a bit.
London is a big receiver to compliment the rest of the Cleveland group. Standing 6’5″, the USC prospect has the surprising speed to go along with his size. McShay notes London’s ankle injury that cost him the rest of the 2021 Trojan season.
While mock draft season will heat up after the 2021 NFL season finishes, McShay’s early prognosis with the Browns taking a receiver will be quite popular. Thankfully, the 2022 receiver class is very strong at the top.