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Browns analysis: How do this year’s draft picks fit in? We’ve got you covered

The draft picks won’t practice in a Browns uniform until May 10. They won’t join the veterans on the field until organized team activities May 21. Their first preseason action won’t come until August.

Don’t worry. It’s never too early to project how they fit on the team.

On a roster set at the top spots and in an organization coming off a playoff appearance and with Super Bowl aspirations, it’s unlikely all the picks will stick on the 53-man roster.

Here’s a look at the individual situation for the six players drafted over the weekend:

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Michael Hall Jr.

Defensive tackle, Ohio State, second round, No. 54 overall

As the Browns’ first pick, the most intense focus will be on Hall. He won’t be expected to start — Dalvin Tomlinson will be joined by Shelby Harris, Maurice Hurst II or Quinton Jefferson — but should immediately be part of the interior rotation.

The Browns love his disruptive ability as a pass rusher. He has long arms (81 inches) and an explosive first step at 6-foot-3, 299 pounds, and although he had only 1.5 sacks in 2023, his pass rush win rate was among the best in the draft.

General manager Andrew Berry chases big-time traits, and for Hall it was all about getting after the quarterback.

“Just both with his physical tools and feel, it’s something that we put a premium value on,” Berry said Saturday.

Zak Zinter

Guard, Michigan, third round, No. 85

Unless there’s an injury, Zinter won’t see the starting lineup this season.

Left guard Joel Bitonio and right guard Wyatt Teller have been to multiple Pro Bowls and are making big bucks. Center Ethan Pocic was re-signed as a free agent last offseason and has been solid.

Zinter will cross-train at center and could be the No. 1 backup at all three interior spots. As he waits and watches, he could see time on special teams and as an extra lineman in certain personnel packages.

No selection was more geared toward the future than the one of the 6-6, 310-pounder.

“Zak, we think his superpower is he’s an excellent pass protector,” Berry said.

Jamari Thrash

Receiver, Louisville, fifth round, No. 156

The top three spots on the depth chart are set with Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy and Elijah Moore. Cedric Tillman, a third-round pick last year, is next in line and showed flashes as a rookie of being a threat on contested catches and running after the catch.

That leaves Thrash in a pile with David Bell, Michael Woods II, James Proche II and Jaelon Darden competing for roster spots and playing time. Bell (third round, 2022) and Woods (sixth round, 2022) were former draft picks but haven’t established themselves as vital to the offense, giving Thrash a legitimate chance to pass them on the depth chart. After four years at Georgia State, Thrash made the successful jump to Louisville in 2023, leading the team with 63 catches for 858 yards and six touchdowns.

“Jamari, he’s an outstanding separator,” Berry said.

Nathaniel Watson

Linebacker, Mississippi State, sixth round, No. 206

Besides Hall, Watson might have the clearest path to playing time.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Jordan Hicks are the only locks for playing time at linebacker, and anyone at the position active on gameday will have an important role on special teams.

The position is in the midst of a transformation following the free agent departures of Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki. Watson could follow a similar path as Takitaki, who began on the strong side before proving he could also play in the middle.

Watson was Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season after leading the league with 137 tackles and sharing the lead with 10 sacks. He has a master’s degree, and Berry mentioned him as a candidate to eventually call the defensive plays.

“Nathaniel, he’s really good in the run game, particularly using his strength,” Berry said.

Myles Harden

Cornerback, South Dakota, seventh round, No. 227

The top four corners appear to be locked in: Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson Jr., Greg Newsome II and Cameron Mitchell. But Berry’s right when he says a team can never have enough, so Harden joins Kahlef Hailassie, Tony Brown and Vincent Gray in the mix for the final couple of roster spots.

Harden showed excellent ball skills and enough speed to entice the Browns, who believe he could be best-suited to play in the slot. The question will be whether he can handle the jump from South Dakota, and how quickly he can make it.

“Myles is probably a little bit his instincts and versatility,” Berry said of his best traits.

Jowon Briggs

Defensive tackle, Cincinnati, seventh round, No. 243

In addition to the veterans mentioned in the Hall item, Briggs will have to compete with Hall and Siaki Ika, a third-round pick a year ago. Berry pointed out Briggs’ “movement ability,” and he looks like a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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