The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone with the Cleveland Browns adding a slew of new players. Over the course of the seven rounds, the Browns selected nine new players. Cleveland added quarterback Baker Mayfield, cornerback Denzel Ward, offensive lineman Austin Corbett, running back Nick Chubb, defensive end Chad Thomas, wide receiver Antonio Callaway, inside linebacker Genard Avery, wide receiver Damion Ratley and cornerback Simeon Thomas.
The success of a draft is not decided the next day or the next season, but in three to four years when you can see the full result of the development of each player. Because of that, I do not like giving out grades for each pick or an overall draft. Rather than grades, I broke down the class into different categories of how I see the new players. So, let’s take a look at my thoughts for the Browns 2018 NFL Draft.
Favorite Pick: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
The Browns picked my second ranked quarterback in the class, but as I have stated throughout the pre-draft process, I would be happy to get either Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold, because I had all three very closely rated. I like the Mayfield pick the best because the front office did not give into the norms of being a certain size or playing a certain style. They went with the player that they believed had the best talent. He has the best accuracy and decision making of the entire class, which are two of the biggest skills I believe a quarterback must possess. He also has the leadership ability and winning experience I like to see brought into the locker room. Cleveland filled their top need with the No. 1 pick and did not get cute by waiting till the fourth pick. And on a side note, I am just relieved that it was not Josh Allen.
Least Favorite Pick: DE Chad Thomas, Miami (FL)
I did not like this pick because I preferred quite a few others at the same position and other positions. I liked Arden Key, Sam Hubbard and Rasheem Green before Thomas in terms of defensive ends. All three were selected after Thomas in the third round. The Browns need pass rushing threats and I believe those three are better than the Miami (FL) defensive end. It looks like the Browns will move him inside in certain packages, but I just think the team already has that in Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah, who both can move inside in certain packages. And if you wanted an interior defensive lineman, Harrison Phillips or Maurice Hurst were still available then. I just did not like the pick at that point of the draft.
Pick I Need To Study More: OL Austin Corbett
I did not watch enough of Austin Corbett to draw an opinion of the newest Browns offensive lineman. I did not consider him an offensive tackle prospect, so I overlooked the Nevada lineman. I want to watch his film to really evaluate if he can be a starting left tackle in the NFL, like the Browns are looking to try him out at. I like the versatility he possesses, I just want to see if he can be the future left tackle for the Browns.
Best Fit: RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
The Browns needed a big physical back, who can carry load as the primary running back. They needed to find someone who can complement Duke Johnson’s versatility and elusiveness style. Nick Chubb fits that need perfectly. I love his running style in terms of what the Browns needed at the position. He is a physical back with the ability to avoid or run through tackles for a longer gain. A future backfield of Johnson and Chubb will be fun to watch.
Best Under-the-Radar Pick: ILB Genard Avery, Memphis
The Browns got a nice player in the fifth round. Genard Avery is an interesting player, who I think can provide some nice versatility. His number one job right away will be on special teams coverage. But, I really think he can be a fun player to watch on defense. Hue Jackson said he will begin his career as a MIKE linebacker for the defense. But, I think his pass rushing ability could make a player who can get on the field quicker than most fifth rounders. He could be used as a pass rush specialist in certain packages, either from a blitzing linebacker or even off the edge.
Biggest Instant Impact: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
Denzel Ward should be able to start right away as the Browns No. 1 cornerback. He has the most talent of all the Browns corners with the talent right now to cover in the NFL. The Browns need a shutdown corner to stabilize the entire secondary coverage team. Ward can be a huge impact right away and transform the defense into a higher level of play. He can also impact the team on special teams.
Best Late Round Value: WR Antonio Callaway
The Browns got a first round talent in the fourth round. Antonio Callaway is one of the most talented receivers in the entire class. John Dorsey said that without the off-field transgressions, Callaway would have been the first or second receiver taken in the draft. I am not going to overlook his off-field incidents. They are troubling and something the team must work with him to overcome and stay clean. It will be hard to trust him until he shows he is worthy of the trust. But in pure value, I am not sure you are going to find a player more talented in the fourth round than Callaway.
Best Special Teams Contributor: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
Denzel Ward is one of the best special teams players in the draft. He is excellent at coming off the edge on punts and field goals. He had a block punt and a block field goal in his junior season last year. His speed and physicality will be valuable on the coverage teams with the ability to be a gunner on both punt and kickoff coverage teams.
Biggest Need Area Filled: Quarterback and Cornerback
The Browns had a lot of big needs on their roster. The quarterback was the No. 1 need and they filled it with their No. 1 pick in the draft. The Browns had to find their future quarterback and they filled that area with Baker Mayfield. Cleveland also needed a shutdown corner to lead the cornerback unit. The selection of Denzel Ward at No. 4 filled that area of need. The front office also added Simeon Thomas to the cornerback group. The Browns spent their two biggest chess pieces, the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, to fill the big holes at quarterback and cornerback. Those positions are now in much better position than they were before the draft.
Biggest Need Not Filled: Interior Defensive Line
The Browns are really thin at the interior defensive line position. The Browns will likely be starting Larry Ogunjobi and Trevon Coley with Caleb Brantley and Jamie Meder as backups. That is a lot of youth and inexperience to depend on. The Browns were in position throughout the draft to find another young interior defensive lineman to add to the depth chart. The Browns did not pick an interior defensive lineman in the entire draft, except for Chad Thomas who the Browns say they may move inside for certain packages. But Thomas is not a true interior defensive lineman. The Browns remain very thin at that area.