Based on everything I have seen and heard about how the new Cleveland Browns are doing things, I expect them to go after explosive players that can be the best at their positions. While this is a "Captain Obvious" statement, there is some depth. I expect the Browns to draft the best players at certain positions instead of going after the 4th or 5th best at another position.
This will also factor in as they look at the disparity between players at certain positions. How close are the #1 running back to the #10? It may be very close. Compare that to another position where the difference is quite large and the Browns are likely to use that information in their decision making.
Do not expect need to be a big factor in the Browns decision making.
These are the types of things analytics will play a role in. I will explain when they do with certain picks in this 7 Round Browns NFL Mock Draft:
(FanSpeak was used to get an idea of where players might fall.)
Round 1 - #2 - Jalen Ramsey
The Browns really like Carson Wentz but not at the value of the #2 pick. Much like the smoke surrounding Colin Kaepernick that led to Robert Griffin III, the draft smoke around Wentz will lead to Ramsey, Myles Jack, DeForest Buckner or possibly Joey Bosa.
Ramsey is a stud. He can be a great corner or safety, is a dynamic leader and hard worker. Most believe he is the best player in the draft by far. Others have Jack and Ramsey with a similar ranking. For the Browns, Ramsey can move all over the place his rookie year. They can play him inside or out at corner or give him time as a third safety if he doesn't win the free safety job outright.
Side Sermon: I think Pierre Desir can be a very good #2 corner and an elite free safety next year or so. He and Ramsey both have a lot of position versatility and would pair with Joe Haden and some of the younger players to give the Browns an elite backfield, even if Haden isn't as good as many Browns fans think. Desir is the type of player that needs to be built around. He has size, length and speed along with a strong work ethic. Drafting Ramsey is all about getting the best talent, not the talent currently on the roster.
Jack can play multiple positions including safety and linebacker while Buckner is a better pick than Bosa for the Browns on the defensive line.
Round 2 - #32 - Michael Thomas
The Browns have sniffed around Thomas enough to know the interest is real. With the unknown that is Josh Gordon, adding a top flight receiver will be key at some point. With his slow 40 time, Laquon Treadwell could fall into the 2nd Round but that is unlikely. Long-term, Thomas is my highest rated receiver. He is big, fast and creates separation. He still has some work to do in the details of the game but overall, Thomas will be a very good receiver.
If Gordon returns this year, Thomas can slowly adjust to the NFL sharing time with Brian Hartline at the #2 spot. With the Browns not expecting to compete this year, Thomas' upside is well worth the top pick in the 2nd Round.
A defensive lineman, like Chris Jones, or an outside edge linebacker could also be the pick here depending on how the Browns use the #2 pick.
Round 3 - #65 - Jaylon Smith
No one has any idea where Smith will be drafted. The Browns have red flagged him at this point but he has a follow up in Indianapolis that will likely cement where he goes in the NFL Draft. If the Browns medical staff feel like he can come back after a redshirt year and be the type of player he was at Notre Dame, the 3rd Round is not too high. If they worry about nerve issues, he will not be picked by the team.
With Ramsey and Smith, the Browns will have the foundation for a great defense. Smith is a great outside linebacker that can play all over the field, rush the passer, stop the run and play in coverage. Before his injury, he was slotted as a Top 5 or 10 pick. He also is the kind of leader, character guy that the Browns need to set the tone for the long haul. If the Browns select him here, ruling him out for the season quickly is to be expected.
While Smith has a lot of upside, only Front Offices with some security will take a gamble on him if his medical is still a concern. The Patriots, Packers and Steelers are the type of teams that have that security while new regimes, like the Browns, might be willing to make this bet as well.
Round 4 - #99 - Cardale Jones
I've been told that Hue Jackson loves Jones. This pick makes a lot of sense at the top of the 4th. If the Browns are in love with Jones, expect a trade up in the 3rd to make sure to get him. Cardale has a lot to work on but in the 4th Round he gives the team a long-term solution if RG3 doesn't work out.
Jackson's offense will put Jones in the best position to succeed. The power running game and vertical passing game are perfect mesh points for Jones. A couple years of tutelage by Jackson and Pep Hamilton should do wonders for the huge QB.
While some are worried about the fan reaction should the team draft Jones and RG3 struggles, Jackson isn't likely to bend to any fan pressure. He has a long leash in his position and isn't going to fail doing things for other people.
Many don't have a huge gap between the middle-level QBs and the ones expected up top. In 4 years, Jones Vs Wentz will be an interesting study/debate.
Round 4 - #138 - Roberto Aguayo
This is a case of the Browns getting a great player at a position that generally doesn't get drafted too high. Aguayo is the best kicker in the draft. He may be the only place kicker that gets drafted this year. The difference between him and the rest of the crowd is that big.
In Cleveland, he would rejoin his college teammate Ramsey and give the Browns a cheap kicker who can be great for years to come. As a young player it may take a year for him to learn how to kick in the winds of Cleveland but the team is building long term so that is okay.
Having an elite kicker on a team that wants to run the ball in the rugged AFC North could be the difference in a couple of games down the road. The Browns get that guy now and hope to not worry about the position for another 10+ years.
Round 5 - #141 - Evan Boehm
With another pick 3 slots later, the Browns have a lot of power as the Draft turns over rounds. At the top of the 5th Round, the Browns get some help on the inside of their line. Losing Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz in free agency means they need to replenish their line. Cameron Erving and John Greco will get first crack at the center job but Boehm will provide depth at both center and guard.
Boehm is not an elite athlete but he is a tough mauler type player that could fit perfectly in the power run scheme of Jackson. He can slide into Greco's spot next year if/when the veteran moves on while also giving the Browns flexibility to really figure out what position is best for Erving. Could he slide out to right tackle? Is he better at guard? Is center, like many assume, his best spot?
Adding tough, hard-nosed offensive linemen later in the draft is a good way to protect your quarterbacks and to upgrade the run game.
Round 5 - #172 - Darion Griswold
Griswold is a small school player who should excite the Browns as a long-term prospect. A former basketball player, the tight end stands at 6'5" and over 250 pounds. With Gary Barnidge locked up, Griswold gives the Browns a versatile tight end that can be a decent blocker right away and a good pass catcher as he develops over the next couple of years.
Down the road Griswold should develop as a solid threat. With E.J. Bibbs and Randall Telfer, the Browns add another possible weapon at a very important position. Bibbs showed little during the Regular Season, though he excited many fans in Training Camp, and may not fit the size that Hue likes at the position. Telfer has struggled with health for a while, so his long-term prognosis is unknown.
Griswold gives the Browns a blocker tight end quickly and a weapon to develop down the road.
Round 5 - #173 - Maliek Collins
While need is not really factored in here, the Browns have to continue to beef up their lines. Much like Boehm earlier in the round, Collins helps on the other side of the ball. Collins is a 3 tech defensive lineman who needs to get stronger at the point of attack but has enough skills, quickness and motor to be impactful as he gets stronger.
With Xavier Cooper and Danny Shelton coming into their second years, Collins provides excellent young depth on the defensive line. Going big later in the draft with a player with a specific talent, Collins ability to penetrate from the inside, is a good use of value with back to back picks at the end of the 5th.
Round 6 - #176 - K.J. Dillon
With Ramsey already drafted, defensive back isn't a big need but Dillon can pair with Ramsey and Ibraheim Campbell to give the Browns some young players with big upside in the secondary. Add in K'Waun Williams, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and some of the other young guys, and the DB room is full of talent.
Dillon is a hard hitting safety who can cover as well. With the way offenses spread teams out, Dillon could be a very good hybrid safety for the Browns replacing Donte Whitner in a year or so. In the 6th round, getting a safety who can be a little versatile is a nice steal.
Round 7 - #223 - Keenan Reynolds
With their final selection, the Browns bring in a Heisman Finalist who is versatile and could be a long-term spark from multiple positions. Reynolds played QB in college but will transition as a hybrid RB/WR in the NFL. He will take time to develop, and isn't the world beater athlete, but he is worth a shot here.
Hue can use Reynolds out of the backfield and in the slot. As he develops as a route-runner, Reynolds high work ethic and intelligence seemingly assures this, he can be a weapon for the Browns. He has the ability to run, catch and throw the ball which should keep defenses on their toes.
In the 7th Round, taking a chance on a high character, versatile weapon makes a lot of sense.
A lot of interest in the upcoming NFL Draft. With this 7 Round Cleveland Browns NFL Mock Draft, the foundation of the team is set for years to come.
What do you think of this Mock Draft for the Browns?null