Over the past few weeks, WFNY’s Michael Bode has done a tremendous job with different strategies that the Cleveland Browns could use in the upcoming draft. Whether drafting linemen, playmakers, defensive guys, or anything else, the Browns could use any of these strategies to improve their team heading into the 2017 season. This week, he (mistakenly) gave me the keys to the mock draft strategy guide. My strategy: draft only players from the Ohio State Buckeyes. Surprise!
It won’t happen, but let’s have some fun. Keep in mind, since their return in 1999, the Browns have drafted just two Buckeyes. The last Buckeye to be drafted by Cleveland? Wide receiver Brian Robiskie in 2009. So, while division rivals enjoy Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward, the Browns have been ignoring the school that has 39 active NFL players.
Alright, let’s have some fun. With all of the talent the scarlet and gray (once again) have in the upcoming draft, let’s correct some wrongs and get the Browns some Buckeyes.
- No trades unless the strategy is specifically geared around trades.
- Demonstrate multiple options at each pick within the confines of the strategy.
- Use a MSM Big Board to demonstrate feasibility of picks.
- Select picks at the Browns four picks in Round 1 and Round 2.
The Draft Strategy
CBS Big Board is utilized for the purposes of these selections.
No. 1 Trade Down and Remain in Top-5, S Malik Hooker
Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is the consensus No. 1 pick and Bode suggested that Cleveland shouldn’t trade down, but this mock will follow Craig Lyndall’s suggestion. Selecting Hooker with the first overall pick is too high. But, if they trade down while remaining in the Top 5, they will be able to obtain the best safety- arguably the best playmaker in the defensive backfield- and will acquire more assets.
Hooker is the ball hawk and playmaker at safety that the Browns haven’t had in decades. In his only year as a starter at Ohio State in 2016, the redshirt junior finished with 74 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and seven interceptions (school record three returned for touchdowns). Some analysts have compared him to former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, who will go down as one of the best to ever play the position.
Not only does he have an eye for the ball, but Hooker has the speed and athletic ability to be a safety blanket behind the Browns cornerbacks. He would immediately help Cleveland’s secondary from Day 1.
Other players for consideration
CB Marshon Lattimore
No. 12 Trade Up, CB Marshon Lattimore
He has the speed, he has the build, and he has the athletic ability to be a shutdown corner in the NFL for years to come. He could be the best cornerback in the draft, which is why the Browns would most likely have to trade up from No. 12 in order to select him. Since they traded down from No. 1, they could use some of those assets to nab Lattimore.
At Ohio State, the redshirt sophomore had 41 tackles, nine pass breakups, and four interceptions (one pick-six) in his first season as a full-time starter in 2016. What might have been most impressive though was that the Cleveland, Ohio native allowed just a 30.2 quarterback rating, which was fifth-best among cornerbacks in the country.
The Browns have been in search of a cornerback to put opposite of Joe Haden and Lattimore would be the perfect complement to the veteran. He would not only be able to ease the burden and take some of the pressure of No. 23, but the former Buckeye would provide Cleveland with two legitimate corners who are both capable of locking down their opposition when fully healthy.
No. 33 RB-WR Curtis Samuel
The Browns may have a player like Duke Johnson who can play both in the backfield as a running back or out wide as a receiver, but Samuel would bring an added dimension to Cleveland’s offense.
At Ohio State, he led the team in receiving yards and was one of their top running backs as well, along with being the best playmaker on the team. He was the only player to record more than 700 rushing and 700 receiving yards in the FBS, Samuel totaled 97 carries for 771 yards and eight touchdowns and 74 catches for 865 yards and seven touchdowns.
Whoever is starting behind center for the Browns in 2017 will need playmakers. Starting with Johnson, Samuel, and Pryor (assuming he is re-signed) wouldn’t be a bad start. Both Samuel and Johnson would provide the Browns offense with multiple dual-threat, athletic, fast players that they can use all over the field.
No. 52 LB Raekwon McMillan
If the Browns can land a talent like McMillan at No. 52, I would be ecstatic. He would be an instant playmaker that, alongside Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, would give the Browns one hell of a trio at linebacker they could build around for the foreseeable future.
Ever since arriving in Columbus, Ohio three years ago, McMillan was one of the best linebackers at Ohio State. For whatever reason, he seems to be dropping down on draft boards, but that could change depending on how he performs at the NFL Combine. He proved that he was athletic and quick enough to cover wide outs and running backs. He was able to get in the opponent’s backfield. Although some of the things he did didn’t make it to the stat sheet, McMillan was the quarterback of the Silver Bullets for multiple seasons and proved that he can be counted on to produce in multiple areas on the field.
Other players that could be taken
- CB Gareon Conley
- C Pat Elflein
I would have likely had the Browns select Conley ahead of McMillan, but given the fact that I already had them selecting Lattimore in the first round, getting another cornerback in the second round just didn’t seem right.
- No. 1, Trade down, take S Malik Hooker
- No. 12, Trade up, take CB Marshon Lattimore
- No. 33 RB-WR Curtis Samuel
- No. 52 Raekwon McMillan
As a lifelong fan and alumnus of the Ohio State University and Browns, I am admittedly biased. And, the chances of things happening are slim to none. Still, given the amount of talent that the scarlet and gray have in the draft, none of these picks would be a reach. All of them would help the team immediately. Getting a little Buckeye flavor in Cleveland could give the Browns a jolt on the field and in the Columbus market. I mean, anything would help the team at this point, right?