CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
After a longer wait than their fans have become accustomed to, the pick is in. With the No. 26 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II.
One of the draft's biggest risers during his junior season, Newsome could make an immediate impact in a Browns secondary that currently includes cornerbacks Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Troy Hill. Both Ward and Williams have battled injuries throughout their NFL careers, while Hill arrives in Cleveland best suited to play nickel.
"Man, it's a blessing," Newsome said of joining the Browns. "Whatever coach [Kevin Stefanski] needs me to do, I'm willing to do it. ... I'm going to try to help Cleveland get to that next hump."
Appearing in six games with the Wildcats during a shortened 2020 season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Newsome totaled nine pass defenses and one interception, while grading as Pro Football Focus' No. 30 cornerback in the country. He was named a second-team All-Big Ten selection, but also struggled with his own injury history throughout his college career, missing a total of nine games over three seasons thanks to various ankle and groin issues.
"I caught a bunch of horrible breaks, honestly, in my career," Newsome said of those injuries, while also noting that he only played six games as a freshman because coaches originally intended to redshirt him after he recovered. "I honestly think I was just very unlucky. ... I'll definitely be able to fix those things going into the league, hopefully."
While Newsome profiled as a natural fit for the Browns thanks to his position and ability, it remained unclear whether he'd still be available when Cleveland made its first pick of the night at No. 26. An unexpected run on linebackers in the late-teens, however, helped push down Newsome, who wound up being the fourth cornerback selected in the first round, behind Jaycee Horn (Carolina Panthers), Patrick Surtain II (Denver Broncos) and Caleb Farley (Tennessee Titans).
"We felt comfortable kind of sweating it out, so to speak, as Greg fell to us," general manager Andrew Berry said when asked if the team considered trading up to get Newsome. "When he's on the field, he really does flip a switch. Very, very confident, highly competitive, and it's just something that you love to see."
While Thursday night's first round was a slow night for the Browns, who have become accustomed to picking higher in the draft, that may not be the case on Friday. Currently, Cleveland enters Day 2 with three picks, including one in the second round (No. 59 overall) and two in the third round (No. 89 and No. 91).
Watch Ben Axelrod and Dave "Dino" DeNatale break down the Newsome pick in the player below: