Browns look to round a corner on Greg Newsome II's injury history

The Browns stayed pat at the 26th pick in the NFL draft and stayed true to their manta of smart, tough and accountable in drafting Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II.

New Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II breaks up a pass against Sparty.

There's no doubt that cornerback was a relative need for the Browns. The Browns' second round draft pick of 2019, Greedy Williams, had an unimpressive rookie campaign and was unable to take the field at all last season. Denzel Ward has likewise proven to be injury prone.

The Browns added a good slot corner with some position flexibility in Troy Hill during free agency. At the same time, however, they lost valuable back-up corners Terrence "Money" Michell and Tavierre Thomas to the Texans and Kevin Johnson to the Titans. Even with the addition of Hill, the position was looking rather thin with Ward and Williams, M.J. Stewart, last year's priority undrafted free agent A.J. Green and Robert Jackson manning the cornerback room.

Newsome has the athletic traits you want to see in a corner. He posted a raw athletic score (RAS) of 9.66 out of 10, which is surpassed at the position in this draft only by Jaycee Horn (9.99), Patrick Surtain (9.96), Ifeatu Melifonwu (9.69) and Jason Pinnock (9.78). It will be interesting to follow how the Browns' picks match up with RAS testing.

Newsome is very young (20 years old). In fact, he holds the distinction of being the first player born after the year 2000 to be drafted into the NFL. He is also relatively inexperienced, having played only 20 games at cornerback in his college career.

Newsome played in 6 games as a freshman and struggled, giving up 25 receptions on 33 targets for 349 yards and four touchdowns. In his freshman campaign, quarterbacks had a gaudy 148.9 passer rating when targeting the receiver covered by Newsome. Newsome improved somewhat in his Sophomore campaign, playing only 8 games (due to injury), giving up 27 receptions on 47 targets for 342 yards and 1 touchdown. The passer rating against him, however, was still a healthy 87.4. Last season, Newsome put it all together. Again, he played 6 games, but in targeting Newsome 34 times, opposing quarterbacks struggled. They completed only 12 passes for 93 yards with no touchdowns and Newsome registered the only interception of his college career. It is reported that Newsome did not give up a single reception on third or fourth down. His biggest test likely would have been against Ohio State, but he played only 17 snaps before suffering a groin injury.

It appears that the Browns prize Newsome's football intellect. In a post-draft pick conference call, General Manager Andrew Berry, Newsome's ability to tell Browns scouts and executives not only his role on the defense snap-by-snap, but the roles of other players in the back 7 was impressive. They also appear to love his youth and upside. This is not a five-year player who has plateaued, but an ascending talent. Newsome has excellent speed (4.38 in the 40 yard dash) and great feet. He broke up more than 20 passes in his college career, but only registered one interception. The Browns appear to hope that they can convert Newsome's ability to get his hands on the ball into takeaways.

Newsome's most troubling college trait was his availability. He lost 8 games in his Sophomore season to an ankle injury and more games last season to a groin injury. It's the same problem the Browns have had with their current duo of young cornerbacks Ward and Williams and why "Money Mitch" proved so valuable to the Browns (even if he is not on par with ability).

Malik Hooker would be a perennial All Pro rather than a shot-in-the-dark free agent signing if he could stay healthy. He couldn't in college and he can't in the NFL. Injury trends shouldn't be taken lightly at this position in the draft. The pick, however, is not reckless, as could be said for the pick of cornerback Caleb Farley (two back surgeries) before Newsome.

The Brown had a couple other players on the board at 26 who could have immediately helped them: defensive tackle Christian Barmore and jack-of-all-trades linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah to name a few. These are positions that the Browns do not seem to value highly enough to draft in the first round. It is unlikely that either of these players will still be available at pick 59 in the second round where the Browns are next slated to pick. It is possible, however, that the Browns could look to trade up in the second round, holding extra third and fourth round picks. It seems highly unlikely that if the Browns use all nine of their selections in the draft that even the bulk of those players would stick on the roster -- especially with the Browns players' cancellation of offseason workouts.

Newsome certainly appears to be a talent worthy of the draft selection. Hopefully, he can reverse his trend of injury and the trend of young highly-drafted Cleveland Browns cornerbacks of missing too many games to injury. Don't be surprised if the Browns do not double up their picks at this position in this year's draft.

Browns look to round a corner on Greg Newsome II's injury history Browns look to round a corner on Greg Newsome II's injury history Reviewed by AT Dawgger on 11:21 AM Rating: 5

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