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Browns’ Hue Jackson wanted safety Malik Hooker before trading down

On the first night of the NFL Draft last Thursday, there was plenty of action involving multiple teams. Whether it was surprising picks or trading up or down, the first round had plenty of entertainment for all. Holding the first and 12th picks, the Cleveland Browns had an opportunity to select two players who could significantly help the franchise from Week 1 on. After taking the consensus top player in the draft, defensive end Myles Garrett, the Browns decided to trade down from No. 12 to No. 25, acquiring Houston’s 2018 first round pick to add to their draft capital.

With the 25th-overall pick, the Browns selected safety Jabrill Peppers. Many believe the former Michigan Wolverine can be a leader, starter, and playmaker for the foreseeable future in Cleveland, one that will lead the defense to bigger and better days. But hypothetically, let’s imagine if the Browns didn’t trade down and stood still at No. 12. Like myself and many others, head coach Hue Jackson would have selected Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, a safety that has the skillset to be just like former All-Pro safety Ed Reed.

Here’s what he told NFL Network’s Mike Silver about wanting Hooker at No. 12:

“To me, he has a chance to be another Ed Reed. When I coached in Baltimore, I saw firsthand what kind of impact a great safety can have.”

As many Clevelanders know just from watching the Buckeyes last fall, in his first season as a full-time starter, the safety displayed his speed, athletic ability, and ability to go get the ball no matter where it was. Cleveland Browns Daily host Nathan Zegura reported following the draft that the Browns attempted to trade back up after acquiring the pick from Houston, calling Indianapolis in hopes of working out a deal to take the Ohio State safety. The Colts turned down the offer, and it was immediately evident as to why when they selected him with the 15th pick.

Jackson may have wanted Hooker, but don’t get him wrong: He was ecstatic to land Peppers late in the first round. Not only does he know how good of a player he is, but the head coach knows just how versatile the rookie can be, which will only help defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (along with playing special teams and a little offense as well).

Check out this video of the team celebrating the addition of Peppers:

Then again, Jackson is pleased with the fact that the Browns were able to acquire another first round pick in 2018, which now leaves them with two first round picks and three second round picks1

“Having that extra pick, that might turn out to be huge for us. I’m starting to appreciate how nice it is to be in that position, because it gives you options.”

By “options”, the head coach could possibly be referring to the opportunity to get his quarterback. Although they selected DeShone Kizer at No. 52 this past weekend, with the 2018 draft class expected to have a handful of top quarterbacks, Jackson and company could lean on a guy then as well. With five picks in the first two rounds, they essentially have the chance to draft whichever quarterback they want, given that they will be able to trade up if needed due to how much draft capital they have.

  1. They own both Houston’s first rounder and second rounder in 2018. []