Browns, NFL Draft

Breaking down the Browns 2017 NFL Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone with the Cleveland Browns being one of the most active teams during the three-day event. The Browns selected 10 new players and made four trades during the 2017 NFL Draft. The team not only acquired players, but also a future 2018 first round pick.

Cleveland had a lot of holes coming into the draft and was able to address quite a few of them with their picks. On offense, the Browns added tight end David Njoku of Miami (FL), quarterback DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame, offensive tackle Roderick Johnson of Florida State and running back Matt Dayes of North Carolina State. On defense, the Browns added edge rusher Myles Garrett of Texas A&M, safety Jabrill Peppers of Michigan, interior defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi of North Carolina Charlotte, cornerback Howard Wilson of Houston and interior defensive lineman Caleb Brantley of Florida. And on special teams, the Browns added kicker Zane Gonzalez of Arizona State.

With that being said, here are my impressions on the Browns 2017 NFL Draft.

Favorite Pick: Edge Myles Garrett

My favorite pick of the draft was the first pick of the draft, edge rusher Myles Garrett. I was getting a little nervous the days before the draft that the Browns might take quarterback Mitch Trubisky over Garrett. Luckily, the Browns went with the right choice, selecting the best overall player in the draft. Garrett was essentially the unanimous pick by non-contrarian draft experts. He was No. 1 on my board and he was one of my favorite players to watch over the past three drafts. Teams visibly ran their plays away from his side of the ball, which shows the respect teams gave for his talent. He is a player with the game changing ability to rush the passer and wreck havoc in the backfield. The Browns have not had a pass rushing threat of his magnitude for a very long time. He is also a good run defender. Garrett is finally a player on the Browns defense who teams must gameplan for before the game. I love the pick.

Least Favorite Pick: DL Caleb Brantley 

My least favorite pick of the draft was interior defensive lineman Caleb Brantley. I really like his talent and upside as a player. I had him as my No. 3 rated interior defensive lineman in the entire 2017 NFL Draft. But this ranking came out before he was alleged to have assaulted a woman. I did not like taking a risk like him. I did not like how the Browns, following the pick of Brantley, came out and said that they are still investigating the situation and could, in the end, release Brantley. Why make the pick if there is a chance he is going to be released? I would have only taken him if I had all the information and that he was innocent of the charge. Also, another reason to not like the pick is his quote saying that he needs to work on his effort and that he did not play hard on every play. Those facts make this my least favorite pick of the Browns’ Draft.

Best Fit: DL Larry Ogunjobi

The player that best fits a huge hole on the roster is interior defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi. Yes, I could have went with Garrett, but Ogunjobi fits perfectly in a huge hole on the defense. The Browns have Danny Shelton as their one technique defensive tackle to stuff up the middle of the line and draw double teams, but they lacked a starting three technique defensive tackle who could penetrate the line with quickness. Ogunjobi can do just that. He has the perfect skill set with athleticism and quickness to fit the Browns’ need at the three technique defensive tackle spot. His fit is perfect for one of the bigger holes on the defense.

Best Under-the-Radar Pick: TE David Njoku

The best under-the-radar pick for the Browns was tight end David Njoku. First rounders are rarely under the radar, but because it was sandwiched between the high profile pick of safety Jabrill Peppers and quarterback DeShone Kizer, I think he is getting overlooked. The Browns added my No. 2 rated tight end and the No. 14 overall player on my big board with the 29th pick in the draft. Njoku is one of the top offensive playmakers in the draft and has some of the highest upsides of the entire draft. At only 20 years old, the former Hurricane can be an immediate red zone threat with great size, athleticism and ball skills. He also has the rare ability for a tight end to make plays after the catch. I think he could have a huge impact in his rookie season.

Biggest Immediate Impact: Edge Myles Garrett 

The biggest instant impact from the class will come from No. 1 pick Myles Garrett. Garrett will immediately start on one edge opposite Emmanuel Ogbah. He has the chance to be one of the leaders in the entire league in sacks. His impact will be felt immediately, creating a great edge combo with Ogbah. His impact will not only come in pass rush situations, but also against the run, which he is just as good at defending. I expect Garrett to be one of the most impactful rookies the Browns have had in quite a while.

Best Late Round Value: K Zane Gonzalez

The best late round value pick for the Browns was kicker Zane Gonzalez in the seventh round. The Browns get a potential starter in the seventh. Amongst a lot of experts who evaluate kickers, like ProFootballFocus’ Gordon McGuinness, he is viewed as the top kicker in the draft. His stats back it up, including being the all-time college leader in made field goals. Getting a starting player in the seventh round is such a huge value pick. With Zane’s strong leg, he can be a real difference maker, both in making long field goals, but also kicking it deep on kickoffs to force either fair catches or worse field position. 

Best Special Teams Contributor: S Jabrill Peppers

The best special teams contributor will actually come from their first round safety Jabrill Peppers. He was one of the top returners in the class. Peppers is special with the ball in his hands. While he gets bashed for “speed”, he has the elusiveness to make defenders miss and turn returns into huge plays. Last season at Michigan, he returned 21 punts for 310 total yards (14.8 yards/return) and a touchdown. On kick returns, he returned 10 kicks for 260 total yards (26.0 yards/return). Peppers can also play on the coverage teams, using his athleticism and tackling ability to play well in that area.

Biggest Need Filled: Defensive Front Seven

The Browns biggest need area that was filled during the 2017 NFL Draft was the defensive front seven. The Browns went heavy in the front seven, filling their two biggest needs in that area, an edge rusher and a three technique defensive tackle. The Browns filled the edge rusher spot with the best rusher in the class, Myles Garrett. Cleveland filled the three technique defensive tackle spot with both Larry Ogunjobi and Caleb Brantley. The draft should form a heck of young edge rushing duo with Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. And the selections of Ogunjobi and Brantley fill the three technique spots and give the defensive line a lot more depth. The front seven is now one of the most improved areas on the roster.

Biggest Need Not Filled: Secondary

The biggest need not filled in the 2017 NFL Draft was the defensive secondary. The Browns spent two picks to upgrade the defensive backfield, selecting safety Jabrill Peppers and cornerback Howard Wilson, but it was just not filled completely because it was such a huge hole with so many spots that needed to be addressed, including free safety and cornerback. The Browns did not select a free safety in the draft, meaning the team will fill this with players already on the roster, free agents or undrafted free agents. The Browns did select a corner in Howard Wilson, but I think the unit needed more than one cornerback from the class. The Browns cornerback spot lacks depth with some uncertainty in the starting lineup. We shall see if the corners on the roster can suffice or if free agents or undrafted free agents can help fill the void.

  • scripty

    Linemen (both OL & DL) and Tight Ends have best success rates that late (6th rd) in the draft (being a starter = success). About 15-19%. I can’t see any reason to say that’s a big negative on a draft, taking a flyer on a talented/troubled player at that point. The bust rate is so high, it’s not really chancy at all.

    For all the Kelly stink, I am not anti-Kizer but truly don’t see him as the answer (hope I’m wrong). I’d rather they continue to find potential starters in the 2nd at other positions. I realize this makes me a bit of a sadist as I was fine to continue to build the team and then add on the QB later. I realize that is not acceptable for many others.

  • Believelander

    “Biggest need not filled: Defensive Secondary”

    I think that the enormous upgrade to our pass rush is going to make our existing defensive backfield, especially with the addition of Peppers and Wilson, look a looooooooooooooooooooot better, and the perception of that hole being so huge will be lessened when not coupled with a front seven that can only generate like 25? sacks for a whole season.

  • Sam Gold

    “Why make the pick if there is a chance he is going to be released?”

    Because picking up a borderline 1st round talent at a 6th round price tag is worth the risk. Period.

  • Believelander

    Yeah, there is no sane argument against this. 6th-round picks have less than a 10% chance to be NFL starters (sans tight ends, who have more like a 20% chance). They have worse than even money chances to even stay on an NFL roster for 2 years. The risk of picking 6th-round talent in the 6th round that may just not be good enough to play NFL foobaw is no worse than the risk of playing 1st round talent who has a potential legal issue and you would cut him for it.

  • Frank

    Not upgrading the FS and corner spots may hurt if next year’s draft isn’t as good for them. I expect Haden gets cut well before the 2018-19 season kicks off so maybe the next draft will be the one for that. Rod Jon was a waste of a pick. No agility for tackle and horrible pass pro tape. Could have at least drafted a more athletic project. Overall though, a solid draft. Big step forward. DLine is much much better and solid players picked throughout. Maybe Awuzie over Kizer would have been a better move.

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  • Chris

    If this Zane guy made more field goals than both Mike Nugent and Roberto Aguayo, he should have gone in the first round!!!

  • Harv

    Stepping back a few days later, seems to me that since there was no way they could blow the Garrett pick (right? right?), so can’t laud them for that. The defining move, the fulcrum of Sashi’s legacy or downfall, will be Peppers/’18 first rounder over Hooker. If Hooker is a HOFer and Peppers just a good starter it will be an enormous opportunity lost, a lust for multiple “assets” over the best players, of bad evaluation leading to false equivalence.

    Right now I have warm fuzzies. Really like the Peppers/Gregg Williams fit and, notwithstanding implications in Silver’s piece about some coaching/FO disconnect, love that they’re drafting for an idiosyncratic coordinator. This draft looks like an org sold on a particular philosophy. But if Peppers is not all that and Hooker is, yeesh. Sashi will be Phil Savage, at best, a guy who drafted a single no-brainer but otherwise tied himself and his team up in knots by thinking too much.

  • Saggy

    New flash: he isn’t going to be released. He’s too good and he will “pay his debt” and move on.

    Frankly, I’m ok with this. I always use Mike Vick as an example. Hate on him all you want – fairly – but don’t hate that he was back in the league because the guy paid his debt.

    If Brantley does his penance, which he will, that’s fine by me. People deserve second chances.

    Oh, and second newsflash – don’t believe everything you read, especially when it pertains to high-profile people and police reports.

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  • Pat Leonard

    This is definitely my hope. The Browns were so miserable at creating pressure on the QB last year that the secondary should be better just from the concept that they won’t have to cover receivers as long. You can see it historically as well, just look at those Giants teams that won Super Bowls in the 00s. There was no special talent at CB, they just had a monster front four in both years.

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