The Browns has a busy first day of free agency landing what seemed to be their top three targets in TE Austin Hooper, RT Jack Conklin, and backup QB Case Keenum. Andrew Berry made waves with these signings proving that he is willing to aggressively go after talented players and the Browns are slowly starting to fill some of the holes on the roster. Stefanski runs more two TE sets than anyone else in the NFL by a wide margin and they are crucial pieces to the offense. Hooper and David Njoku should complement each other well and they should both see a ton of action. While the Browns gave Hooper the largest TE contract in league history, the deal is extremely team-friendly being front-loaded and he ranks second amongst TEs in catch percentage on catchable targets and contested targets with room to grow at just 25 years old.
The Browns continued their team-friendly, front-loaded contracts with Jack Conklin who will immediately fill a massive need at RT. Interestingly enough, the Browns actually made a draft-day trade with the Titans where Tennessee selected Conklin after swapping with Browns back in 2016. Conklin was a first-team all-pro in his rookie season and he is a mauler in the zone blocking scheme. Not only should this help out Baker Mayfield a ton, but it will give Nick Chubb a nice boost as well. The Browns also made a third nice move to acquire QB Case Keenum to be their backup. Keenum is an excellent backup; he knows the offensive system and he actually led the Vikings to the 2017 NFC Championship Game with Stefanski as the OC. Keenum can help Baker learn the offense and he is respectable enough to win a game or two if absolutely necessary, so he should be able to push Baker in practice a little bit as well. On paper, it seems that the Browns are on their way to being offseason champions once again and I have faith in this administration to right the ship and turn that into a winning season.
While the Browns had an exciting day for the offense on the first day of free agency and plugged in some holes, they still have a lot of work to do. As of right now, the defense looks like Swiss cheese with needs at LB, S, Nickel CB, Edge and they could use some depth at DL. For the offense, they could stand to add to their WR corps, possibly a young RB and TE for depth and of course, they are still in dire need of a LT. Having already made a big splash in free agency, they will likely look to add depth and fill some minor holes leading up the draft. DE Ronald Blair is a name to watch and S Anthony Harris was franchise tagged, but he is reportedly available in trade talks for a mid-to-late-round pick. LT Trent Williams continues to be a possibility as well via trade as it is possible that he might want to reunite with his old OL coach Bill Callahan and push for a trade to Cleveland. He would be a great get at the right price, but it is time to start looking at options in the 2020 NFL Draft, specifically with the 10th pick barring a trade. Most likely, this pick will be used on one of the Browns’ biggest needs as of right now, LT, LB or S. Here are three top options at pick 10 for the Browns:
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
There’s a good chance Simmons will go much earlier than this (as early as pick three), so the Browns might need to trade up to select him. This would make a lot of sense if the Browns traded for Trent Williams or felt comfortable enough to find their LT early day two. Simmons is a unicorn who has a chance to be one of the most dominant and dynamic players in the NFL. He has the potential to be a generational player in the middle of a defense with one of the most unique athletic profiles in league history. Simmons has a unique ability to play sideline-to-sideline and blanket TEs, RBs and even WRs in coverage with his outstanding 4.39 40-yard dash. He can line up at essentially any position on the defense outside of a down lineman and he can make an impact play at any moment. If Simmons somehow falls all the way to 10, I am not sure if the Browns could turn down a potential generational talent to be a centerpiece of their defense.
Andrew Thomas, LT, Georgia
Could another Thomas be the next franchise LT for the Cleveland Browns? Thomas is one of the most polished LT prospects in recent memory. He was a freshman All-American RT and then he was a 2x time All-American LT the past two seasons. He has prototypical size, long arms and advanced technique that show up on film. Thomas is a prospect with a high floor who can step in and be a quality starter at LT day one, which is just what the Browns need to complete their line. It might not be the most exciting pick, but it could definitely be the right pick.
Mekhi Becton, LT, Louisville
Becton is a freight train at 6’7 364, and he can flat out move. He opened eyes when he ran a 5.1 40-yard dash at his size, and it shows up on game day, especially when he’s used as a lead blocker in the run game. He’s a three-year starter playing his freshman season at RT and the next two at LT earning All-ACC honors this past season. Becton has a massive wingspan to complement his enormous frame with his surprising mobility. He is a monster in the run game and he makes sure to finish blocks with authority. He still needs a little work on his pass protection technique and his weight will always be a bit of a concern, but he has a whole lot of potential with his rare athleticism for how large he is.