The Browns coaching staff is starting to take shape with the hiring of Bill Callahan and Chad O’Oshea as offensive line and wide receivers coach, respectively. Further, current San Francisco defensive backs coach Joe Woods is the current rumored favorite for defensive coordinator. With that said, the hirings help shed some light on what schemes will be deployed on both sides of the ball and allow us to better assess what players should be picked in the upcoming 2020 draft in order to fit said schemes, the organizational philosophy, and the team’s vision.
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 third installment of a weekly “Mock Draft Wednesday” series2, I present you with mock draft version 3.0 of the Cleveland Browns 2020 NFL draft, with the team landing a monster left tackle, a plug-in free safety, and a playmaker at the tight end position that has legendary family roots:
Becton is one of the rising names among NFL draft experts and for many a good reason. 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 and could fill the team’s tremendous need at the left tackle position. He comes in No. 1 on Michael Bode’s “Fixer Upper” list for draft-eligible offensive tackles as well, if you’re into that sort of thing.
One of the biggest risers on my latest 2020 #NFLDraft big board was Louisville OT Mekhi Becton (6-7, 360) – my 25th ranked player. Strength, size, and underrated athleticism for days.pic.twitter.com/6mc03wbWqi
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) January 11, 2020
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.
The Minnesota Vikings offense placed an emphasis on two-tight end sets under the tutelage of Kevin Stefanski, deploying “12” personnel (one running back, two tight ends, and two wide receivers) on 35% of offensive plays, which was the second-most in the league (Sharp Football). As a result, the Browns will need to add another playmaker at the position opposite four-year veteran David Njoku. Insert Louisiana State University Thaddeus Moss. The son of NFL legend Randy Moss sports a 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame that coupled with his athleticism, catching ability3, and blocking prowess should become an immediate asset at the next level.4
Chris Hubbard was a significant liability at the position n 2019. How much of a liability? His 49.4 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus was 79th out of 83 qualifiers
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 Bill Callahan. 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-4, 303-pound defensive tackle was a two-time Associated Press All Big-Ten First Team selection in both 2018 and 2019, who finished his admirable career with 29 tackles for loss (16th-most in Michigan State University history), 11.5 sacks, and eight pass break-ups. Per Benjmain Solak of The Draft Network: “Long and quick interior rusher in a mold the NFL is currently enjoying. Excels when slanting/twisting into different gaps than where he lines up; is consistently the first player off the ball and able to win initial angles accordingly. Has powerful hands when he locates his strikes properly and has demonstrated a bull rush and a snatch-trap accordingly.” Williams would be a welcome addition to current Browns Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi along the interior of the defensive line.
Round 6, Pick 168- 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 the proper coaching.
Round 7, Pick 222 (via Green Bay Packers)- A.J. Green | Cornerback (Oklahoma State)
Green was a four-year starter at Oklahoma State, who finished his career with 147 tackles, six interceptions, and 21 passes defended. The cornerback is best known for his size (6-foot-1 and 190 pounds) and his physical style of play. He plays at his best when in press-man coverage, not dissimilar to current Browns cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams. Woods (assuming he is the hire) deploys cover-1 quite frequently, which makes Green a seemingly natural fit in the system.
Who are your favorite prospects heading into the 2020 NFL Draft? What do you see as the team’s biggest needs?