The Cleveland Browns are known for their ability to make the wrong pick in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Most fans are convinced that they were picking names out of a hat when they drafted 28-year old Brandon Weeden in the first round of the 2012 draft. And from there on they continued to make some questionable first-round selections including former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. But now with Cleveland believing to have found their franchise quarterback, what is in store for the Browns moving towards the 2020 NFL draft?
With the NFL Draft set to take place on April 23, Andrew Barry looks to prepare for the draft as Browns newly appointed general manager. Cleveland’s biggest spot to fill is an offensive lineman to protect Mayfield’s blindside and carry on the storied legacy of recently retired, future Hall-of-Famer, Joe Thomas. Along with obvious needs on the offensive line, the Browns will also be looking to fill spots at the linebacker and safety positions. Cleveland is currently sitting with the tenth pick in this year’s draft.
The seemingly obvious choice at the tenth pick for the Browns is an offensive tackle, with the safest choice being Andrew Thomas from the University of Georgia. Georgia runs a pro-style offense that will be similar to what Stefanski plans to implement in the upcoming season.
Brown has experience in a pro-style offense that relies heavily on a zone-concept ground game. Thomas is the most dependable and pro-ready player at the tackle position in the draft and would be a great fit for Cleveland. If Barry wants to make the safe play he will draft Thomas at the tenth pick, however, if he wants to take a risk, then Mehki Bechton is the guy to draft. Bechton is drawing Greg Robinson comparisons; a former second overall pick who never lived up to the hype. The concerns surrounding Bechton is that he doesn’t have the skill set to step into a starting role right away. However, Bechton is a massive 6’5” 365 lbs and has the raw athletic ability and intangibles that an offensive lineman needs. Bechton is a boom or bust prospect with the highest boom potential in the entire draft. There are talks about Cleveland drafting defensive tackle Derrick Brown from the University of Georgia. However, Andrew Berry should avoid Brown and draft an offensive tackle.
The offensive line class is fairly deep this year, so Cleveland also has the opportunity to trade their tenth pick for a later first-round pick and still grab other top prospects like Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills Jr. or Andrew Thomas if he is not drafted by then. If safety Isaiah Simmons is around at the tenth pick then Andrew Barry needs to draft him as quickly as possible and then call the other nine GMs ahead of Cleveland in the draft and thank them. Simmons may be the most versatile and explosive player on either side of the ball. However, it is unlikely that Simmons gets out of the top-five, so Cleveland will be sticking to an offensive tackle at the tenth pick.
Cleveland is in need of a safety after trading 2017 first-round pick Jabrill Peppers to the Giants in the trade that brought Odell Beckham Jr. to the Dawg Pound. The best fit for Cleveland, which is likely to be a second-round pick, is safety Jeremy Chinn from the University of Southern Illinois. Chinn is a safety prospect with compelling size, speed and athletic ability. He is very strong in man coverage with the ability to make tackles in open space. The only downfall of Jeremy is his own field awareness. He would be ideal for Cleveland matching up with bigger WRs and TEs. He might find himself playing outside LB in a nickel package situation. With Simmons off the board in the top five, Chinn is the next best choice for Cleveland. Other options for Cleveland at safety in the second round are Grant Delpit from LSU, Kyle Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne, and Linebacker
The last spot where Cleveland is vulnerable is the linebacker position. Cleveland will more than likely be picking a linebacker in the third round, and this could be a handful of guys depending on how the draft plays out. Patrick Queen could slip to the Browns in the second round at the 41st pick. The choice that would best fit the Browns would be Willie Gay Jr. out of Mississippi State. Predicting third-round draft picks is difficult because so many moves can be made prior that rearrange the whole draft order, but Willie Gay Jr. is an incredibly athletic linebacker that can lineup inside and help against a strong run game. Concerns about Gay’s off-field issues in regards to locker room and academic issues raise red flags but he is a strong pick in the third round. Other options for a linebacker, in the third or second round, are Zach Baun out of Wisconsin, Troy Dye of Oregon, and Malik Harrison out of Ohio State.