Cleveland Browns 2024 NFL draft picks: Selection analysis

Michael Hall Jr.'s NFL draft profile (0:29)

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CLEVELAND -- The 2024 NFL draft began April 25 in Detroit. The Cleveland Browns started their draft on Friday, drafting Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. in the second round.

ESPN provided pick-by-pick analysis of each of the Browns' selections as they were made.

A look at each of Cleveland's selections:

Analysis of every pick | Updated depth chart

Round 2: No. 54: Michael Hall Jr., DT, Ohio State

My take: The second round started with a run on defensive lineman, and the Browns made sure to get one of their own in Ohio State's Michael Hall Jr. A native of Ohio, Hall was a Third Team All-Big Ten selection in 2023 and was named the top defensive lineman at Senior Bowl practices as voted on by his teammates. Hall has a quick first step and could be a good compliment to Browns tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who is more of a run-stuffer.

Is this pick for depth or does it fill a hole?: Depth. Cleveland has an experienced defensive front led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett. But multiple players who are over the age of 30. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz sees the defensive line as relief pitchers, wanting to routinely sub players in to keep them fresh. Hall, who doesn't turn 21 until June, gives the unit an infusion of youth and could work his way into the rotation.

Round 3: No. 85: Zak Zinter, G, Michigan

My take: The Browns continued to add quality depth on the second night of the draft. Zinter was a unanimous first-team All-American selection in 2023 and a three-time All-Big Ten selection during his college career. Browns general manager Andrew Berry said at the NFL scouting combine that the Browns view themselves as "offensive line snobs" and the team invested in a player Berry viewed as a "rock solid all-around player."

All but one of Zinter's 42 starts in college came at left guard, making him a likely candidate to back up -- at some point, maybe replace -- Joel Bitonio, who turns 33 in October. Zinter broke his left tibia and fibula against Ohio State in November, but Berry said Zinter will be "ready to go" this spring.

Key Stat: Zinter allowed one sack and had one blown run block in 2023. He also did not commit a single penalty in 2023.

Round 5, No. 156: Jamari Thrash, WR, Louisville

My take: The Browns made a trade for Jerry Jeudy this offseason and gave him a three-year extension, but he's yet to consistently live up to his status as a former first-round pick. Amari Cooper is not only turning 30 this year but entering the final season of his contract so it doesn't hurt to add some depth in the receiver room. In his lone season at Louisville, Thrash's 858 receiving yards led the team and were fourth-most in the ACC, earning him Second Team All-ACC honors. Thrash transferred from Georgia State, where he was also First Team All-Sun Belt in 2022.

Round 6, No. 206: Nathaniel Watson, LB, Mississippi State

My take: Watson is a productive off-ball linebacker. The three-year starter is the only player in the FBS with at least 300 tackles and 20 sacks since the start of 2021. Watson, a third-team AP All-American in 2023, led the SEC with 134 tackles and tied for the conference lead with 10 sacks. The Browns signed veterans Devin Bush and Jordan Hicks to play linebacker alongside 2023 Pro Bowler Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Watson has significant special teams experience and that's where he'll likely have to make his mark as a rookie. His size and nose for the football could make him a factor with the new kickoff rules.

Round 7: No. 227: Myles Harden, CB, South Dakota

My take: During the team's pre-draft news conference, Berry said he wants as many good cornerbacks as possible. Even with a strong trio that features Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson Jr. and Greg Newsome II, the Browns took a player in Harden whose knack for getting his hands on the ball should fit in a defensive scheme that asks a lot of its corners. Harden, a 2023 third-team AP FCS All-American and two-time All-MVFC selection, had six career interceptions and five forced fumbles.

Round 7, No. 243 overall: Jowon Briggs, DT, Cincinnati

My take: The Browns rounded out their draft class the same way they started it -- by selecting a defensive tackle. Briggs, an honorable mention All-Big XII selection in 2023, faces an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster with a stacked defensive line room that includes several veterans and second-round pick Michael Hall Jr. But Cleveland, which likes to spread the workload for its defensive line, will give Briggs plenty of opportunity to compete in training camp.