The Cleveland Browns have been the league’s whipping boys the last two years. A record of 1-31 over the last two years is not scaring anyone and suggests they need help everywhere. However, the Browns have four of the first 35 draft picks and that amount of talent can really kickstart the team’s turnaround. So which positions should they target?
Quarterback is a given for the Browns in round one and it’s expected to be with the first overall pick even though the Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor. The Browns have been linked to Wyoming’s Josh Allen and USC’s Sam Darnold, however the player I expect them to take is the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. In our article on quarterback’s I wrote this:
I want my quarterback to fire up my team, Mayfield does this and his teammates rally behind him. Motivating others by his play on the field is what sets him apart as the class act of the draft class. In fact ESPN’s College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit said, “I don’t know if I’ve seen a player where the defense, the coaches, the entire offense feed off his energy… Watch how he wills his team.”
For my money, Mayfield is the most accurate quarterback in this draft and he can make all the throws whilst rarely turning the ball over. This was demonstrated in his 43 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions in 2017. Looking deeper he completed 70.5% of his passes on the way to 4627 yards.
He’s mobile. In the NFL, even with the best lines the quarterbacks will face pressure. Mayfield can make things happen on the run, moving out of the pocket to buy time for receivers to get open or taking off to pick up yards when nothing’s open.
An offensive tackle became a definite priority when Cleveland sports legend left tackle Joe Thomas retired at the end of the season. Shon Coleman has shown promise but he’s not in the same area code as Thomas. It’s clear they need to add talent at this position, but I expect it with their fourth pick so look for them to address the position in round two. Perhaps Texas stud Connor Williams slides, Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby or Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown (who could be a steal after a shocking combine).
Running back should remain a position of need, despite the signing of Carlos Hyde in free agency. With the fourth overall pick the Browns should select Saquon Barkley if he’s available. If he’s gone they’ll get an opportunity to address this later in the draft. Day two targets could include LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, whilst day three targets such as Auburn‘s Kerryon Johnson or Alabama Bo Scarbrough may make sense instead.
Cornerback is yet another area where Cleveland is desperate for playmakers on the back end, and this could be a multi- draft for them. A top four pick seems too rich for corner but there figures to be quality available there in round two and below including; Carlton Davis, Auburn, Chris Campbell, Penn State and Quenton Meeks of Stanford.
Defensive tackle should also be a target area. After trading away Danny Shelton, they need help alongside last year’s rookie’s Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi. Maybe fast rising Nathan Shepherd from Fort Hays State or Harrison Phillips out of Stanford are targets here.
The Browns added offensive help at wide receiver, running back and quarterback through free agency and trades and still have nine picks in the draft. This give them a lot of ammunition to move up should they see a player they like sliding, especially at the tail end of round one (where they’d receive a fifth year option). Perhaps they look to move for players like Michigan’s DT Maurice Hurst, LSU corner Donte Jackson or linebacker Arden Key.