March is almost here. April follows March. The NFL Draft is in April. We are almost there.
The 2017 NFL Combine is set to take center stage in the NFL’s pre-draft preparation cycle this week. Hand size, shuttle time, and Wonderlic will once again enter the lexicon of football enthusiasts. While the combine is important for front offices to obtain reliable measurables on the players as well as conduct interviews, the entire experience is well over-blown as no actual football is to be played.
Mock drafts that change drastically after the combine should only be due to a measurable- such as height- having been grossly inaccurate beforehand or due to a significant revelation on a red flag (medical or character) that was previously unknown. Great fun will be had seeing quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Mitch Trubisky compete head-to-head in drills, but the “winner” in Indianapolis has no guarantee of being the better quarterback come September.
The Browns own future HOFer Joe Thomas has his own thoughts about the combine.
Sorry 2 the suckers that have to go to the cattle auction this week! Don't forget to lie to teams and say how much "fun" it is! #combine
— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) February 27, 2017
Against the backdrop of the impending NFL Combine, the San Diego Tribune released their mock draft. Eddie Brown believes that the Browns will target filling their greatest needs early rather than selecting on a pure Best Player Available strategy. As such, the Browns end up with a pass rusher, quarterback, cornerback, center, and safety. The only departure from the need-based strategy is selecting a tight end in the fourth round.
No. 1 DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
The Browns have the most ammunition to land Jimmy Garoppolo if the Patriots make him available — why wouldn’t they? — so they pressure to land a quarterback here is alleviated. Plus, Garrett is the best player in this draft and capable of being a dominant force as an edge rusher at the next level. Many like to compare him to Von Miller — same college and everything! — but that’s a little lazy. He’s bigger and stronger than Miller. An apt comparison could be Jevon Kearse. Top needs: QB, C, S
There has been some understandable backlash against Garrett recently as the best prospect in the draft. Not from the scouting community, but from fans who are wary of a player being so universally acclaimed as the best prospect. Of course, Garrett could bust. He could spend too much time in his NFL career injured or playing hurt that limits his impact. Perhaps offensive lineman who are closer to him in athleticism will give him more trouble than those in college. However, he is a special talent with a fantastic work ethic. The risk of Garrett not reaching the height of being at least a disruptive pass rusher is minimal enough that no other pick in this class makes sense to take over him. Don’t need to grin and bear it; just draft Myles Garrett.
No. 12 CB Teez Tabor, Florida
The Browns have tried desperately to add a decent cornerback opposite Joe Haden. They go back to the Gator well to find one. Tabor is arguably the best corner in this draft class because of his elite ball-skills and athleticism. Top needs: QB, C, S
Teez Tabor in the 2017 NFL Draft is what Justin Gilbert was to the 2014 NFL Draft. Both are incredible athletic players who have higher ceilings than anyone else in their draft class. However, both are players who have rejected authority and refuse to work within a team structure. While Gilbert’s red flags were mostly rumor and conjecture during the build up to his draft, Tabor has been suspended multiple times for his. Some team will take the risk that they can harness the athletic gifts of Tabor. That team will not be one who was so recently fell off the carousel attempting to grab a similar brass ring.
No. 33 LB-S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Speaking of consensus picks, many mocks have the multi-talented, uber-athletic Peppers going to the New England Patriots at the No. 32 pick where Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia can creatively utilize his skillset. If somehow Peppers does fall through the first round, then the Browns could have a steal for a player whom defensive coordinator Gregg Williams could easily slot into his hybrid defensive schemes.
No. 52 C Ethan Pocic, LSU
There have been reports since Senior Bowl week that Pocic is not strong enough despite his fantastic athleticism. He is one of the players who can prove something to the scouting community in Indianapolis if he trains well. However, he has another player who has been working with LeCharles Bentley at OL Performance to sculpt himself into the best NFL player possible. If Pat Elflein can prove that he has significantly improved his strength, then the good footwork he displays on film might matter more to his profile. Elflein versus Pocic is a draft battle worth watching for Browns fans.
— Offensive Line Performance (@OLPerformance) February 23, 2017
65. Cleveland — Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami, Jr.
97. Cleveland — Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama, rSr.
Drafting for need is not usually a winning strategy. The Browns have so many needs that drafting the best available player at each slot would also be drafting a need. Taking a player such as Tabor would be disheartening. Throwing a pick at Kaaya in the third round (a Kessler-light type player) seems like a waste of a resource. Still, a draft where the Browns walk away with Garrett and Peppers would be better than any they have had in recent years.