I don’t engage in much draft speculation. The fact is, I don’t get to watch a whole lot of college football. I don’t spend hours and hours studying film of each prospect. So rather than completely guess, or just spit out what the rest of the world says on Twitter or ESPN, I generally don’t say or write much of anything.
I don’t even really root for certain players I like to get picked. I generally wait until the team makes the picks and then hope like mad that they were the right choices.
That said, I get asked all the time what my opinion is: Who SHOULD they take? What SHOULD they do?
So I thought I would do something a bit different and give you what I think would be the top three scenarios that could play out on Thursday night. By putting this “in print” as it were, I am of course dooming all three possibilities. Either they won’t happen or one of them will happen and it will be a disaster.
Here are my top three first-round scenarios for the Cleveland Browns.
Scenario No. 1
Off the board: DE Jadeveon Clowney, OT Greg Robinson, OLB Khalil Mack
In this scenario, the Browns have their choice of quarterbacks or wide receivers. The two players that I discuss here are Sammy Watkins and Johnny Manziel. Obviously, those are my choices for the best at their position. I’ve leaned towards Watkins for months. To be honest, I wasn’t really sold on Manziel as the QB I would take until recently. I’ll get more into that in a minute.
Even though Manziel is my top quarterback, Watkins is the top player on my board. Not only is he a dangerous pass catcher, but he seems to have a lunch pail mentality at a diva position. Pairing him with Gordon sounds fantastic, and let’s be honest—he is also protection in case Gordon ends up doing something else to get himself suspended.
With the fourth pick: The Cleveland Browns select Sammy Watkins, wide receiver, Clemson
The second half of the first round is where the Browns do what they have to do to get a quarterback they like. I don’t think they will have a shot at Manziel if they pass on him at No. 4. Alas, we are looking at the second or third choice. They like Derek Carr. They have to, or they have wasted a lot of his and their time. The other option here is Teddy Bridgewater.
About a week ago, I saw a chart compiled by Greg Peshek, an analytics guy at secondroundstats.com. Eye test notwithstanding, this was the best comparison tool I’ve seen for breaking down the QB prospects.
This is what pushed me over the top on Manziel, and made me want Bridgewater over Carr. There were other quarterbacks on the chart, but none that would ever be considered first round picks. The color coding fades from dark green to yellow to orange to red. The best in each category are green, the worst in red.
With the 26th pick: The Cleveland Browns select Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville
Now, they may have to move up in order to get him. I’m OK with that.
Scenario No. 2
Off the board: Clowney, Watkins, Robinson
Watkins is obviously my top choice for the Browns, so what happens if he is off the board? In that case, the Browns need to move on Johnny Manziel. They can get a wide receiver later. Mike Evans seems to be a good player. He certainly has the measurables. I’ll take the guy who was throwing him the ball.
I was asked about Khalil Mack on Twitter if these three were off the board. I said months ago that I think Mack is one of the safest picks in the draft and could end up having the most distinguished career when it is all said and done. I just can’t see the Browns going with an outside edge rusher with the roster they already have. It just doesn’t make sense.
With the fourth pick: The Cleveland Browns select Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M
With the quarterback in the fold, the second pick is wide open. A wide receiver would make a lot of sense. So would a cornerback. So would a guard. So would an inside linebacker.
The guy I would like at corner is Darqueze Dennard, but I don’t think he’ll be around for the Browns second pick in the first round.
With the 26th pick: The Browns select Cody Latimer, wide receiver, Indiana
Here’s the thing, I picked Latimer because I’ve seen him play well, and he has the height. I can’t imagine taking Cooks or Lee or Beckham. Those guys are all under 6-0, and the Browns have a couple of those guys already in tow. I’ve seen a couple mock drafts that have the Browns getting C.J. Mosley here. I wouldn’t have a fit about that.
Scenario No. 3
Off the board: Manziel, Robinson, Watkins.
How could this be a top three scenario for me if two of the three guys I drafted above are already gone? Well for starters, if Watkins is there I take him. My second choice is Manziel. My third choice I’m really fuzzy on. What I love about this particular situation is that the Browns would have the opportunity to basically auction off the right to draft Jadeveon Clowney to the highest bidder.
Why not take him for the Browns? Legitimate question. If this is my draft, I’m not taking Clowney. Of all the red flags that you can label a guy with, the lack of effort flag is a no-go for me. Manziel has his own set of flags, but between the hashmarks, there is no questioning his effort. He is trying to win with every snap.
I would love to see what other teams might offer for Clowney. I can see a team in the teens trying to jump up to grab the physical freak. I’ll take your 12-18 first rounder and your second round pick to go with it. Or possibly your first this year and next year as well. The worst case being you don’t get wowed by an offer and you take someone else at four.
The Browns trade the fourth-overall pick
That being the case, they take their top quarterback with the pick they get in the swap. Paging Teddy Bridgewater. Then they use No. 26 as detailed above, plus they get an extra second-round pick to solidify the offensive line or defensive backfield or take a second wide receiver to compete.
Those are my top three scenarios. Sure, I could offer up some fantasy situation where the Browns get both Watkins and Manziel, but I don’t think that is realistic.