We are back in the comfort zone, Browns fans- a top-ten draft pick, a head coaching search, and a front office/structure overhaul.
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.
In the first installment of a weekly “Mock Draft Wednesday” series, I present you with mock draft version 2.0 of the Cleveland Browns 2020 NFL draft, with the team landing a stud versatile player on defense, a plug-in left tackle, and the best tight end in FBS:
As mentioned in version 1.0, reportedly no contract talks have taken place between MIKE linebacker Joe Schobert and the Browns front office (that obviously may change with a new regime). If the team does decide to move on from the Pro Bowler and defensive leader, linebacker becomes an immediate need. Enter Isaiah Simmons, who is not only the best at his position group, but also one of the best players in the entire draft. Simmons is a versatile, game-changing player that could be the centerpiece of the defense. He has the desired traits of a prospect at the next level, including explosiveness, elite coverage ability, and exceptional athleticism. Simmons also excelled as a safety in defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ system, so he could be a rotational position piece until he finds a home so to speak.
Clemson's Isaiah Simmons is such a difference-maker, hard not to get Derwin James vibes from him.
He's the do-it-all type every NFL team is looking for right now.pic.twitter.com/dBlYEQ0iyt
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) December 31, 2019
Becton should fill the team’s tremendous need at the left tackle position. He is a humongous human being (6-foot-7 and 369 pounds) but moves with an unexpected explosion for a player of his stature. He is dominant both physically and technique-wise. The former Cardinal may end up being a first-round pick based on all of the chatter in NFL draft circles, but should he fall, the Browns should sprint the selection card to the podium.
Mekhi Becton is a human excavator. pic.twitter.com/zFlOYjtnZJ
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) December 27, 2019
The 6-foot-5, 294-pound Driscoll has the potential to be a starter at the next level, especially if he betters his technique under Browns offensive line coach James Campen (assuming he is retained). In 2018, the right tackle was one of the best pass-blocking linemen in FBS, only surrendering a quarterback pressure every 66 snaps played, with a corresponding 86.7 pass-blocking grade from PFF.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior officially declared for the NFL draft on New Year’s Eve. Davis had 54 receptions for 616 yards and four touchdowns over 11 games this season with career marks of 99 receptions for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns. There are some injury concerns, as he missed the entirety of both the 2016 and 2017 seasons resulting from a torn ACL. However, he could compete for the wide receiver three spot behind Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher had rave reviews for the young man: “It’s amazing that when you develop a person that the player grows with him. When they start seeing themselves have success there, they know it’s important but maybe not why. I’ve been extremely, extremely happy with him with his production and development as a person, as a player, and as a team leader.”
Blackmon moved from cornerback to free safety this season and quickly became of the premier talents at the position. Per Pro Football Focus (“PFF”), he only allowed five catches for 63 yards on 324 coverage snaps, for a corresponding passer rating allowed of just 30.4. He was the fourth-highest graded free safety of the season (89.8). Rookie Sheldrick Redwine flashed at times during 2019, but the position should be an open competition going into training camp in 2020.
Round 6, Pick 168- Harrison Bryant | Tight End (Florida Atlantic)
The John Mackey Award winner just might be the most fully-developed tight end in the draft. He finished with the best PFF receiving grade (93.0) and the most receiving yards (1,004) at the position in 2019. Further, he is the best run-blocking tight end in the draft, as Florida Atlantic ball carriers averaged more than 2.0 yards before contact when running in his direction (PFF). Lastly, he had the most explosive plays (25) and broken tackles (12) among all FBS tight ends (PFF). He would be a home run pick in the sixth round for this team.
Check out our tight end Harrison Bryant. FAU Football !! pic.twitter.com/4N81R93RO1
— Dr. Richard Staller (@Dr_Staller) November 24, 2019
Round 7, Pick 222 (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 mentioned 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?