Texas's Joseph Ossai stands out as an outstanding possible pick for the Cleveland Browns with the 26th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. One of the reasons is how closely he resembles a player they currently face twice per season, including three times last year. He was also a player the Browns could have selected themselves.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Browns selected Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, Jabrill Peppers 25th and David Njoku 29th. It is widely believed that the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to pick Njoku with the 30th pick of the draft, which is why the Browns traded up in front of them.
The Steelers selected T.J. Watt with the 30th pick out of Wisconsin. A one-year wonder in terms of production, Watt tested incredibly well and he's been one of the better edge rushers in the NFL along with Myles Garrett.
Watt also might be the best comparison for Ossai.
Joseph Ossai, Texas
Age: 20 (Will be 21 at the time of the Draft)
Height: 6'3 3/4"
Arm Length: 33 7/8'
40-Yard Dash: 4.63
Broad Jump: 10'11"
Bench Press: 19 reps
Production: 26 solo tackles (6.8 percent), 16 tackles for loss (23.1 percent), 5 sacks (31.2 percent) in 2020 season
T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Age: 22 at the time of the Draft
Height: 6'4 1/4"
Arm Length: 33 1/8'
40-Yard Dash: 4.69
Broad Jump: 10'7"
Bench Press: 21 reps
Production: 38 solo tackles (7.6 percent), 15.5 tackles for loss (20.9 percent), 11.5 sacks (33.8 percent) in 2016 season
Both put together remarkable athletic profiles at virtually the same size in terms of speed and explosion, though neither tested agility. It's worth noting that Ossai is younger and performed better in testing, save for the bench press.
In terms of production, both were great their final seasons in college. Watt had more raw statistics, but relative to what their teams did, Ossai was right there with him. And to Ossai's credit, he put together a great sophomore season of production. Watt was a non-factor until his junior year.
None of this guarantees success for Ossai or means he will be the next T.J. Watt, but he's hit every bench mark necessary to allow for that possibility. Ossai would be joining a team with Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Malik Jackson and Takkarist McKinley, which might help increase the likelihood of reaching those heights.
If Ossai is the next T.J. Watt, it'd be a shame for the Browns to miss out a second time.