*Singing* “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” No, I’m not talking about Christmas…it’s mock draft season! With yesterday’s loss finally putting the last nail in the coffin of the Browns playoff hopes, it’s time for the mock draft season to start. You know, the annual sporting event in which all Browns fans can once again stir up that old feeling of hope.
The team’s needs are aplenty heading in the 2020 offseason, with expiring contracts for familiar faces such as LB Joe Schobert, WR Rashard Higgins, RB Kareem Hunt1, LT Greg Robinson, and FS Damarious Randall to name a few. The below mock draft assumes only Hunt is retained, which will obviously be monitored through the remainder of the regular season and into the offseason, as well as any free agent signings by the ball club.
With that said, we are a go for launch in predicting the unpredictable. Here is mock draft version 1.0 of the Cleveland Browns 2020 NFL draft2:
One of the worst kept secrets in the National Football League is the Browns struggle at both offensive tackle positions. Left tackle (and reclamation project) Greg Robinson is an impending unrestricted free agent, while right tackle Chris Hubbard has been a significant liability. Upgrading both positions is priority number one this offseason from a player personnel perspective for General Manager John Dorsey.
Enter Jedrick Wilis, who is one of the top run-blockers of the 2020 offensive tackle class. His 91.4 run-block grade was 3rd-best, while his overall grade of 90.0 was tied for seventh at the position group (Pro Football Focus). The Browns are a3 run-first football team with running backs Nick Chubb and restricted free agent Kareem Hunt. Wills would be a perfect fit, especially if there is a run of tackles at the top of the draft.
The Browns could use some depth on the interior defensive line outside of Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi, mostly in order to help a run defense that has allowed 135.2 yards per game and 4.9 yards per attempt, which is the most in team history through 14 games of a season.
Gallimore is violent along the interior and has no trouble shedding blocks with active hands and incredible mobile agility. He would be a great step forward for this porous rush defense.
Let’s be honest with each other: free safety Damarious Randall will almost certainly not be back with this team in 2019. He was benched earlier this season for an unspecified disciplinary reason and has underwhelmed when he has played, grading as Pro Football Focus’ (“PFF”) 37th overall safety.
Winfield, Jr. was selected as a unanimous First Team All-American for his 2019 performance (the first Gopher to do so since 2005). The sophomore recorded 80 total tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and intercepted seven passes (4th-most in FBS) this season. He is a playmaker by every definition of the word, with elite athleticism, ball skills, and coverage potential. The injury concerns are there (he only played four games in each of the 2017 and 2018 seasons), but let’s hope that is behind the youngster.
One of the more surprising moves of the 2019 season has been the lack of usage and playtime for wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who was quarterback Baker Mayfield’s favorite target and safety blanket in 2018. Now, wide receiver three behind Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry has become a serious need for this offense.
Hill accumulated 569 receiving yards on 51 receptions and ten touchdowns in his senior season with The Ohio State Buckeyes. His body control and catching ability are second to only a handful across FBS and would be a welcome addition to the Browns wide receiving corps.
As mentioned above Chris Hubbard has been a liability in 2019. How much of a liability? His 49.4 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus is 79th out of 83 qualifiers.
The 6″5″, 294-pound Driscoll has potential to be a starter at the next level, especially if he betters his technique under Browns offensive line coach James Campen. In 2018, the right tackle was one of the best pass-blocking lineman in FBS, only surrendering a quarterback pressure every 66 snaps played, with a corresponding 86.7 pass-blocking grade from PFF.
Round 6, Pick 166- Nate Landman | Linebacker (Colorado)
Browns defensive leader and Pro Bowl snub Joe Schobert is set to make some dough this offseason. Reportedly no contract talks have occurred between Schobert’s agent and the Browns brass, which is not a good sign for a player at his caliber. As such, the middle linebacker may fall victim to the “not my guy” mentality in 2020.
As a result, Colorado linebacker Nate Landman is the pick here. The 6’3″, 230-pound junior is known for his tackling ability, power, patience, and aggressiveness. There are some doubts regarding his man coverage ability, but has the opportunity for growth with Browns linebackers coach Al Holcomb.
Round 7, Pick 219 (via Green Bay Packers)- Damar Hamlin | Safety (Pittsburgh)
Hamlin could be a nice depth add in the Browns secondary that could possibly be depleted with Eric Murray, Justin Burris, and the previously discussed Randall all becoming unrestricted free agents in 2020. He could benefit from some additional weight to his slight frame (195 pounds), but has the athleticism and aggression (especially in the run game) to make a difference when called upon.
Who are your favorite prospects heading into the 2020 NFL Draft? What do you see as the team’s biggest needs?