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CLEVELAND — The Browns added another to piece to their revamped defence , selecting Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II with the No. 26 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
With thousands of their fans on hand to hear Commissioner Roger Goodell make the announcement outside FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns picked the 6-foot, 190-pound Newsome, who will likely compete for a starting job.
Cleveland was in the market for another cornerback to pair with Denzel Ward, a first-round pick in 2018. The Browns don't know if projected 2020 starter Greedy Williams will be ready this year after he missed last season with a shoulder injury suffered in training camp.
Newsome, who will turn 21 next month, had 71 tackles, 25 passes defenced and an interception in 21 games for the Wildcats. He earned All-Big Ten honours in 2020.
He was the fourth cornerback selected in the first round.
Cleveland's draft day started early for general manager Andrew Berry as he and his wife, Brittan, welcomed their third child in the morning. Eden Ruth Berry weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces — and will be getting a lifetime contract.
The birth was perhaps another good omen for the Browns, who have been reborn.
After ending its nearly two-decades-old post-season drought last season and winning a playoff game for the first time since 1994, Cleveland picked 26th in the first round —- the team's lowest spot in any year in which it didn’t make a trade since returning as an expansion team in 1999.
Expectations have rarely been higher for the Browns or their fans, who have long considered the draft as their Super Bowl. Those days are over.
As he prepared for his second draft as Cleveland's top football executive, Berry said last week he would approach this year's selections with "the mindset of trying to really maximize the long-term impact of our roster.”
The focus, at least in the first two rounds, was expected to remain on Cleveland's defence , which was revamped in free agency with the signing of edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney to pair with All-Pro Myles Garrett, safety John Johnson III and others.
There are other holes to fill and depth to be added for the Browns, who entered the draft with nine picks, including two in the third round.
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Tom Withers, The Associated Press