With so much attention on J.J. Watt, its important to note that even if the Cleveland Browns are able to land the three time defensive player of the year or another key free agent defensive end, they still need to add edge depth.
Before Watt was even in the conversation, it always made sense that the Browns would sign a veteran and draft another edge rusher. Had Olivier Vernon not suffered a catastrophic injury to end the season and they extended him, this would still hold true.
The Browns can't have too many pass rushers, but they really need to take advantage of the talent and wisdom at their disposal when it comes to adding a young player. Whoever the Browns would draft would benefit from the presence of Myles Garrett, Adrian Clayborn and then potentially someone like Watt. Not only are they put in position to excel, but they couldn't ask for better players from which to learn.
Porter Gustin is a decent rotational option. He's going to get his opportunity to show he's grown from last year and offer more as a pass rusher as opposed to simply being a high energy, high effort player.
The Browns also have what amounts to be a lottery ticket in Curtis Weaver. The Miami Dolphins drafted him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, then waived him on an injury designation. The Browns claimed him and then put him on injured reserve. At Boise State, Weaver was skilled and agile, but he piled up production against really poor opponents, he's slow and he did not have an NFL body in Dolphins training camp.
The good news is Weaver is young, still just 22 years old. If he can come to camp with an NFL body, he may be a real consideration for the Browns. If not, the Browns will likely move on quickly.
Joe Jackson stayed on the roster all season despite the fact he only played 71 defensive snaps all season, so presumably the Browns see something in him worth holding onto for the 2021 season.
The Browns carried five defensive ends on their 53-man roster all year. Even if they draft another end, one of these players will still have an opportunity to make the team and contribute.
If the right player is there, the Browns could certainly use a first round pick on a talented edge rusher, perhaps Greg Rousseau from Miami. The contract would be incredibly cheap and if they pan out, they may be in position to take over when the veteran contract runs its course. In the mean time, it's a valuable player that can attack the opposing quarterback, providing the Browns more options.
If it's a mid to later round pick like Payton Turner from the University of Houston or Elerson Smith out of Northern Iowa as examples, it's another competitor fighting for a spot in a talented rotation.
At the end of the year when Vernon was still healthy, Adrian Clayborn rushed the passer from a 3-tech defensive tackle spot at times against the left guard with Vernon coming off the edge. If the Browns can force opponents into obvious passing situations, they have any number of ways to put fresh players in position to be playmakers.
Getting a player like Watt, Ryan Kerrigan or Trey Hendrickson could be great for the Browns defensive front, but it would be a missed opportunity if they don't follow up with another edge rusher in the draft to maximize this group to give opposing quarterbacks nightmares.