Browns, NFL Draft, WWW

Cleveland Browns 2017 NFL Draft blueprint with orange Hue

Auctioneers at a cattle swap could be a designation referring to the Cleveland Browns front office contingents since 1999. No matter the regime in control or the amount of talent available, the Browns most constant NFL Draft Day experience is utilizing the trade market as much as any team in the NFL.

Early trades are especially common as the Browns have traded up for Trent Richardson, Justin Gilbert, and Johnny Manziel. Trade downs are just as common as the Browns have received Alex Mack, Cameron Erving, Corey Coleman, and- oh- Justin Gilbert again among the bounty of picks received. To keep fans on their toes, sometimes the Browns even stand pat in the first round and take a Barkevious Mingo or Danny Shelton.

With all of that movement, the Browns make it impossible to pinpoint players of interest before the draft. While it is difficult enough to figure out the top 12 players, mapping out every possible draft position and the players that could or should be selected in each spot is a fool’s errand. Therefore, the plan here is to instead give an basic framework of how the Browns might utilize the draft to improve the team.1

Here are the categories that will be covered for each pick. Realize that the selections made are my own and that there will be a wide range of opinions on these players especially the deeper we get into the draft. For another opinion on where players should go, please consult WFNY Joe Gilbert’s Big Board. The first two days of the NFL draft are covered here (i.e. the first three rounds).

Go up and git ‘em: Players who will likely not be attainable at that position and will require a trade up to acquire them. Also, limiting it to players worth investing the resources to move up and only factoring in small moves from that spot.

Stay the course: Players who will likely be attainable at that position and will not require a trade up to acquire them. Also, limiting it to players worth taking at that spot.

Drop it like it’s hot: Players worth making small movement downwards in the draft to gain more resources/picks and still end up with a quality player.

Round 1, Pick 1 (1 overall)

Go up and git ‘em

Not applicable when your team had the worst record in the NFL and obtained the first overall selection for their troubles.

Stay the course

Myles Garrett is the obvious and only choice. Warren Sapp and a few other contrarians have done their best to attempt to add some intrigue. However, Garrett has the production, athleticism, character, and high-end tape. When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell steps onto the podium, he will announce “With the first selection of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns take Myles Garrett, defensive end from Texas A&M” as the camera jumps to Arlington, Texas where Garrett’s family and friends will be jumping around in celebration, while possibly exchanging their dinosaur bones for dawg bones to wave around.

Drop it like it’s hot

There is no reason for the Browns to end up without Myles Garrett on their team. Depending on who you ask, Charles Harris, Soloman Thomas, or Derek Barnett is the next best available edge rusher, but none of them are anywhere near the player of Garrett. Nor are any of the quarterbacks- or other positions- worth the top overall pick. SB Nation’s Stephen White had the most reasoned breakdown of why he did not believe Myles Garrett should be the No. 1 overall pick, but the report read to more as a “Why Garrett is even better than you think” article. Read for yourself.

Round 1, Pick 12 (Z overall)

Go up and git ‘em

Despite some hopeful inferences from the San Francisco 49ers, the Browns should not give up the haul necessary to move all the way up to the No. 2 overall selection. There is, however, a potential opportunity to move into the Top 10 to obtain either their top quarterback selection or an elite defensive player as some teams seem desperate to utilize the depth of the draft. The Browns No. 52 overall pick coupled with a fourth-round pick would be worth adding another elite-level player.

  • Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech: Mahomes is a fantastic prospect who could top the quarterback rankings for the analytical-based Browns. He checks all the boxes for the front office and the coaching staff. He has three years experience, which gives the team a ton of tape to analyze. Mahomes has amazing arm talent to make every necessary NFL throw. His great athleticism will come in handy especially as he keeps his eyes downfield when he scrambles. Plus, every single top prospect is coming out of an Air Raid variation, so it is tough to penalize Mahomes for it (not to mention the reports the Red Raiders gave him audible responsibilities and ran a more complex version than most). Unless you buy that Deshaun Watson is a winner with intangibles despite his meager arm strength (49 miles per hour), low Wonderlic score (20), and erratic results (lower accuracy and higher interceptions than peers).
  • Jamal Adams, S, LSU / Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: Both elite safeties should be gone within the first few picks, but there is always a chance that one slips. If it happens, then the Browns could make their move and solidify their defense. Quarterback would have to wait for Pick No. 33 or the 2018 NFL Draft with a player such as Colin Kaepernick being brought on to bolster the current group.
Stay the course
  • DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame / Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: Kizer could be this draft’s version of Ben Roethlisburger. Or, he could be a faulty mechanic quarterback who will struggle. Trubisky might be the best signal caller in this class, or he might be the inconsistent player seen on the field for only one season who happens to also be a year older than both Mahomes and Watson. There is potential with both too much risk associated to move upwards for them.
  • Marshon Lattimore CB, Ohio State: If the Browns decide to fix their defense first, then pairing Garrett with the Buckeye cornerback could pay dividends immediately. Lattimore is a special talent. Either player should walk into Berea as an immediate starter.
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  • O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: There are numerous tight ends that will make a NFL impact in this class, but none of them possesses the type of potential to dominate in blocking and receiving as Howard does. Tight end is one of the more difficult positions to obtain and elite player and would seem a bit of a luxury for the talent-deprived Browns. The Browns would be stating Howard is a special brand of player if they took him.
Drop it like it’s hot
  • Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: With Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey, the need is not at linebacker for the Browns. If the team does trade back into the 20s though and other players they targeted get taken ahead of them, then he would be one heck of a consolation prize.
  • Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: Well, Caleb Brantley was occupying the position here, but until there is solid evidence that corroborates his story rather than the version where he punched a woman in the face, he is moved to the ‘do not draft’ list. The Browns background check team should be investigating the situation thoroughly. McDowell is another player with great tape but worrisome off-field chatter (though just on work ethic and team leadership), which proves how important having a solid investigative team is for each NFL franchise.

Round 2, Pick 1 (33 overall)

Go up and git ‘em
  • None: Unless one of the quarterbacks drops into the 20s, or one of the other players mentioned above is available for a small price of later round draft picks (and cleared by our investigative team accordingly), then there is no reason for the Browns to be upwardly mobile with the No. 33 pick.
Stay the course
  • Sidney Jones, CB, Washington / Kevin King, CB, Washington / Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn: If the Browns take Garrett and a quarterback in the first round, then they still need to address their secondary. Jones would only be available due to his achilles injury as he is a first-round talent. King and Melifonwu have some outstanding athleticism, so the question would be if the Browns trust their football techniques and instincts. King also played safety for two years for Washington before switching to corner, so there is some positional flexibility with him. There are tons of defensive backs worth this pick, many of whom will be available.
  • John Ross / Reuben Foster / Dalvin Cook: Every year there are prospects who fall out of Day 1 due to deficiencies in their profile being more highly valued in NFL front offices than from the draft media. Ross’ size, Foster’s attitude, or Cook’s athleticism could land one of these players in such a bucket even as their tape screams for a higher pick.
Drop it like it’s hot
  • Defensive backs: The 2017 NFL Draft is deeper in defensive backs than any of recent memory. Budda Baker (S, Washington), Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan), Adoree Jackson (CB, USC), Chidobie Awuzie (CB, Colorado), and Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida) can all be added to the list of defensive backs worth a high second-round selection. The Browns could sell off the No. 33 pick and still obtain one (or more) of these players by doing so.

Round 2, Pick 52 (19 overall)

Go up and git ‘em
  • None: Sashi Brown has already noted that the Browns “don’t want to get into a habit of turning two picks into one” and there are plenty of players who of value who will be available at Pick No. 52.
Stay the course
  • Marcus Williams, FS, Utah: There is some risk to waiting around and hoping that Marcus Williams falls into your lap at No. 52. He is a quite good prospect who exhibits many of the skills you want in a free safety including his play recognition and closing speed. However, his size limits him to the free safety slot, which might have him slip on some boards as he doesn’t have the same positional flexibility that other safeties in this class possess.
  • Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State / Adoree Jackson, CB, USC: Anyone who is a fan of football should enjoy watching these two players play the game. They are ridiculously athletic and utilize their abilities to create prodcution. Both players can be used in multiple ways to create mismatches for the opposition.
Drop it like it’s hot
  • Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina: The Browns might not have an urgent need at wide receiver, but they do need a slot guy. Jones is so, so good on film and produced at a fantastic rate (158 receptions for 1746 yards) because he has the absolute best usage of his hands in catching since the famed Sammy Watkins.
  • Desmond King, S, Iowa / Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson / Fabian Moreau, CB UCLA: Has it yet been mentioned how strong the defensive back class is?

Round 3, Pick 1 (65 overall)

Go up and git ‘em
  • This pick could well be utilized if the Browns do end up trading up from Pick No. 12 in the first round though the No. 52 pick would be needed if the team wants to jump all the way up to the New York Jets selection at No. 6.
Stay the course
  • Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M: Probably the last of the safeties who could help the Browns in 2017.
  • Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston: Extreme athlete who could be moved all around in Gregg Williams flexible defensive schemes. The need for a third linebacker is not as great as other team needs, but the value here could be well worth the selection.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC: Smith-Schuster is more Anquan Boldin than a speedster, but he could still provide some value if the Browns do look to add a pass-catcher and don’t want to do so until Round 3.
Drop it like it’s hot
  • Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee / D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas: The Browns are fine at running back with Isaiah Crowell (once re-signed) and Duke Johnson. However, injuries pile up at the position and having another talented youngster on the hook for four years would solidify the depth chart.

Other Cleveland Browns picks in the 2017 NFL Draft

Round 4, Pick 1 (108)
Round 4, Pick 34 (142) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 5, Pick 1 (145)
Round 5, Pick 32 (177)
Round 5, Pick 38 (183) (Compensatory Selection)
Round 6, Pick 1 (187)

Other players to watch later in the draft (in no particular order)

Nate Peterman, QB, Pitt
Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois

Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo

Taylor Morton, OT, Western Michigan
Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

Davlvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State

John Johnson, S, NC State
Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State

Hardy Nickerson Jr, LB, Illinois

WFNY Mock Draft Strategies

WFNY has walked through numerous mock draft strategies over the past few months in addition to the blueprint above. Here is each of those:

  1. Note: there is a solid argument to be made that the author of this article is a fool and is therefore well-equipped for this particular errand. []
  2. Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State also was in this category before the allegations of sexual assault surfaced this week. If the Browns are able to clear him of wrong-doing before the draft, then he is back in play here. []