The Cleveland Browns have been extremely busy since the beginning of the offseason. The team made myriad trades and signings to upgrade the roster that went 0-16 in the 2017 season. The Browns were heavily active, reworking the roster with additions and subtractions through free agency and trades. It was the first step in the important offseason of the Browns organization. The work already done has filled some of the needs the team came into the offseason with, but work is still needed.
In just under one month, Cleveland is faced with the biggest event of the offseason, the 2018 NFL Draft. The team holds the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, with five picks in the first two rounds. So, the Browns has a huge opportunity to fill the remaining needs on the team. But, what are the biggest needs for the Browns heading into the 2018 NFL Draft? Well, let’s take a look at the five biggest needs the Browns have on their roster going into the 2018 NFL Draft and some of the top choices, both early and later in the draft, who can fill these needs.
The quarterback position is still the No. 1 need on the team, even after the acquisition of Tyrod Taylor. The Browns need to find their quarterback of the future and that needs to come at the No. 1 spot in the draft. The direction and fate of the organization is tied to how the team addresses this need and who they get to fill it.
Early Round Draft Target(s): Josh Rosen of UCLA, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Sam Darnold of USC are the three quarterbacks I would be willing to take at No. 1. They all have the talent to be franchise quarterbacks.
Later Round Draft Target(s): Mike White of Western Kentucky would be a later round quarterback to look at, but he should only be taken as a second quarterback after the Browns select one at No. 1.
The Browns interior defensive line is filled with potential, but not a lot of consistent production as of yet. Larry Ogunjobi looks to be the guy who makes the big jump next season, though even he is not a sure thing yet. Beyond him, however, there are a lot of questions. With the trade of Danny Shelton, this position has moved up the pecking order of the biggest needs on the team. The Browns need more talent at this spot.
Early Round Draft Target(s): Taven Bryan of Florida would be a perfect fit for the Browns three-technique defensive tackle because of Bryan’s explosive athleticism to penetrate into the backfield.
Later Round Draft Target(s): Trenton Thompson of Georgia could still be available by the third round or later. He is another player who could fill in the three-technique spot on the defensive line.
The Browns lost Hall of Fame left tackle Joe Thomas to retirement, leaving a huge void at the position. The Browns have addressed the tackle position in free agency with the additions of Chris Hubbard and Donald Stephenson. But the Browns do not currently have a sure thing at the left tackle spot. So, the front office would be wise to find at least a developmental tackle to groom for that spot.
Early Round Draft Target(s): Brian O’Neill of Pittsburgh is a player I would take with a later round pick in the second round. I am not keen on using any of the higher picks on any of the higher rated tackles because I am not totally sold on their abilities. O’Neill would be a good developmental left tackle.
Later Round Draft Target(s): Desmond Harrison of West Georgia is a tackle with so much upside with his combination of length and athleticism. He should be available in Round 3 or later.
The Browns addressed the wide receiver position in the offseason with the addition of Jarvis Landry and Jeff Janis. But, Cleveland still needs to upgrade this position in the draft. The team struggled to get any sort of consistent production from any of their receivers last year. The team has potential in the unit, but the roster still needs more talent at the position. Todd Haley’s offense will be in particular need of playmakers and possibly receivers with size.
Early Round Draft Target(s): Courtland Sutton of SMU and Anthony Miller of Memphis. Sutton would supply the size the corps needs and Miller would provide the playmaking ability.
Later Round Draft Target(s): Equanimeous St. Brown of Notre Dame would be a receiver available likely in Round 3 or later who has the potential to be a big-time receiver in the NFL. He has a higher upside than many of the top receivers in the class.
The Browns have a really good young edge-rushing tandem in Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. But, the edge rusher corps is not overly deep. The Browns need more players who can put pressure on the opposing quarterback. The Browns could add a depth type edge rusher or a top edge rusher who can really catapult this unit into one of the better in the entire league.
Early Round Draft Target(s): Bradley Chubb of Georgia is an all-around edge rusher who can affect the run and pass game. He would give the Browns three young talented edge rushers to build the defense around.
Later Round Draft Target(s): Duke Ejiofor of Wake Forest is a player who could be still available in Round 3 or later. Ejiofor is one of my favorite edge rushers in the draft.