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Browns draft Mike Hall Jr.: How he fits, pick grade and scouting intel

Written by on April 27, 2024

The Browns have selected Ohio State defensive tackle Mike Hall Jr. at No. 54 in the second round, the Browns’ first pick of this draft.

Hall grew up in Cleveland as a big Browns fan. Now, he’s coming home. “I was even barking during the bad years,” Hall said at the Senior Bowl.

The Browns entertained trade offers but always had Hall on their short list of options for the second round, and they decided Hall’s athleticism and pass-rush ceiling were the best fit for the present and future.

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‘The Beast’ breakdown

“A two-year starter at Ohio State, Hall was interchangeable at one- and three-technique in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ four-man front. His college stat sheet is underwhelming, especially from his final season in Columbus (2.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks), but his pass rush win rate (18.3 percent) was second best among FBS defensive tackles in 2023 (behind only Byron Murphy II).With his first-step burst and lateral agility, Hall quickly gets vertical and is a tough player to handle one-on-one. He uses his long arms and natural leverage to work underneath blocks, although his lack of size and anchor put him in compromised positions, especially versus the run.”

How he fits

Hall is an explosive, upfield-style defensive tackle who fits the scheme the Browns employ under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. He’s just 20, and though he wasn’t a full-time starter during his three seasons at Ohio State, his flashes were enough to make him a second-round pick. “We’re not necessarily worried about day one (Hall) playing snaps,” vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook said.

Rookie impact

The Browns return three veteran defensive tackles, added Quinton Jefferson in free agency, and drafted Siaki Ika in the third round last year. Their top three defensive tackles are in their 30s, so this pick is about the future. Hall will be on the roster, obviously, and will be given a chance to crack the rotation. But the Browns are betting on his upside and thinking long-term.

Depth-chart impact

Dalvin Tomlinson is the No. 1 defensive tackle, and the Browns think Hall can learn from Tomlinson, Shelby Harris, Jefferson and Maurice Hurst. Stylistically, Hall is most like Harris and Hurst and the Browns think Hall’s best chance to contribute immediately is as a pass rusher. But this pick is about the future, even if Hall can catch on quickly. The Browns viewed him as one of the best interior rushers in this draft.

They also could have picked…

Wide receiver Troy Franklin was an option, as was edge rusher Marshawn Kneeland. But after the Browns saw six defensive tackles get picked earlier in the second round, they viewed themselves as lucky to still have a chance to draft Hall. Cook acknowledged that the Browns spent “probably 20 minutes” taking calls and talking through various trade-down scenarios, but he said the team ultimately decided to bet on Hall’s talent.

Fast evaluation

Hall said at the Senior Bowl that he’s been “adding to his toolbox” and knows he’s not a finished product. But his best traits — explosiveness, athleticism, natural pass rush ability — are hard to find, and the Browns decided that putting Hall into a room that already has plenty of talent and experience would be best for helping him reach his ceiling. The Browns always were comfortable drafting for the future, and for multiple reasons Hall always made sense.

Grade

The fastest defensive tackle in the class, Hall ran a 4.75 at 290 pounds during Ohio State’s pro day and has one of the best first-step bursts in the class. As an interior pass rusher, Hall has major upside. As a run defender, Hall has a long way to go and needs to be more consistent and gap sound if he’s going to be more than a flash player in the NFL. Solid value as Hall is good enough to contribute — but Cleveland doesn’t have many picks and could’ve used more OL help. Grade: B- — Nick Baumgardner, NFL reporter

(Top photo: Kara Durrette / Getty Images)

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