Introduction: November 6, 2014. Brian Hoyer and his teammates are celebrating their 24-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on national television. Hoyer dreamed of moments like this since he was a youngster growing up in Cleveland. The Browns improve to 6-3, putting them in first place in the division. It was the first time since 2007 that they won more than five games. Mike Pettine, his players, and all the fans felt like they were on top of the world that night. Then reality set in. They’re still the Cleveland Browns. The team finished the rest of the season with a 1-6 record and ended on a five game losing streak. Hoyer only throws two touchdowns the rest of the season, along with nine interceptions. He leads a comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, but follows it with back to back losses. Troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon returns and doesn’t make an impact. After a one point defeat against the Indianapolis Colts, Coach Pettine decided to make a change. Browns fans would finally get to see their savior make his starting debut. The league was curious to see if Johnny Manziel could save his team’s season. They played the Bengals again. The result was the exact opposite as last time. Johnny Football was slaughtered and the Browns didn’t even score a single point. Injuries continued, resulting in Connor Shaw starting under center the last game of the season. The following day, Browns fans received good news. No news. The silence was music to their ears. For two straight years they’ve had to deal with firings and changes that brought an unstable environment within the front office. For once, the ownership took the next step forward. Then the organization was hit with a storm of issues. Josh Gordon fails his third drug test, resulting in a one season suspension. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan demands his release from the team. He later reveals to the media he didn’t appreciate text messages coming from the press box during the games. The NFL investigates the team following that statement. General Manager Ray Farmer admits the text messages came from him. As a result, he is fined and suspended four games. The ‘text-gate’ put a bad image on the team. While all that was going on, Johnny Manziel enters a rehab facility in Pennsylvania. Farmer’s actions make Hoyer skeptical about returning to his favorite team. A week before the unrestricted free agency period started, the Browns signed quarterback Josh McCown. After the acquisition, it was clear Hoyer would not be returning to the team. The pride and joy is gone. The number one receiver is gone. The savior needs professional help. Free agency period comes and go’s. Farmer does a good job picking up players to fill certain holes without blowing up the salary cap. Injured players continue to progress and heal. The team releases new logos and uniforms to help pump up the fans for the team’s future. Those things are nice but won’t help us get to the playoffs. So what does this team need? What can move the Cleveland Browns in a championship direction? A grade A draft. There are two first round picks and ten total picks to help improve the team. Farmer has one draft under his belt. He now needs to capitalize on this one. I think he’s more prepared than last time. Hell, even Urban Meyer raved about his work ethic. I also like to provide my own opinions. So here is my special Cleveland Browns four round mock draft.
Key Additions: QB Josh McCown, WR Brian Hartline, WR Dwayne Bowe, TE Rob Housler, DT Randy Starks, and CB Tramon Williams
Key Departures: WR Miles Austin, TE Jordan Cameron, QB Brian Hoyer, DT Ahtyba Rubin, OLB Jabaal Sheard, and CB Buster Skrine
Round 1 Pick 12
What I want: Trade down if possible, WR Breshad Perriman, University of Central Florida
Reading mock drafts I have seen the names Marcus Mariota, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Amari Cooper, and Danny Shelton come up as possibilities. That sounds fine and dandy, but I think all of them are off the board when the Browns pick. Trading down is not a bad idea when your trying to load up on talent. That being said, I would like to see them do it again. I believe we still have a shot at Perriman trading down, but if not, just take him here. Why Perriman? Do you remember a certain underrated wider receiver in the last draft by the name of Odell Beckham Jr.? That’s the type of player his is and he could make the same impact on the Browns. A 6’3 frame with Josh Gordon like speed and Larry Fitzgerald hands. He catches everything. Passes thrown high, low, behind, and also makes the one hand grab when necessary. Bowe and Hartline were good pick ups, but you need a true number one receiver threat. Perriman is a steal.
What the Browns may do: Trade down, OL La’el Collins, Louisiana University
I think the Browns will go all in for trading down again this year. I don’t know exactly who, but I’m almost 100% sure it happens. Trade partners could include 49ers, Chiefs, Lions, Cardinals, Texans, and Eagles. When it does happen and the Browns have to pick, I think they go Collins here. Offensive line was awesome when Alex Mack was healthy, but still some questions with Mitchell Schwarz and John Greco. Last year, Farmer made a fantastic pick with Joel Bitonio, who just missed making the Pro Bowl roster. Collins is a strong guard who would fit with their drop-back scheme. Good protection for whoever is under center. It’s not a flashy pick but sometimes the boring pick can make a big difference. I wouldn’t be mad if the Browns went this route instead.
Other options: OL Ereck Flowers, OLB Alvin Dupree, and WR Jaelan Strong
Round 1 Pick 19 (from Buffalo Bills)
What I want: OL Cameron Erving, Florida State University
This would be a home run for the Browns. Erving played left tackle most of his college career. He also excelled at guard and center. We could utilize him in many different ways. Perfect insurance for offensive line injuries or, God forbid, Alex Mack leaves next year. Coaches raved about his leadership skills when changing positions and helping FSU to focus on winning. He is expected to still be available here so I say snag him.
What the Browns may do: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
WHAT?! A RUNNING BACK?! ARE YOU SURE?! No, I’m not. But if your a Browns fan, you know they adopted CBS’s Big Brother motto, expect the unexpected, when it comes to the draft. Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West did a solid job last season, but they were pretty much non-existent the last six games. The best seasons you get out of a running back are their first few seasons. That’s why I don’t think they went out and got a veteran back like last year. Gordon is very much like Jamaal Charles. Extremely fast, good hands, fantastic juke moves, and great vision. I originally had Indiana back Tevin Coleman here, but no sign of the Browns seriously considering him at this point. Adding Gordon will be Farmer’s way of trying to add more weapons for whoever is quarterback. Wouldn’t be a bad pick in my eyes, but the new Browns franchise has had bad luck with first round running backs. Remember William Green and Trent Richardson? I would like to forget too.
Other options: RB Tevin Coleman, WR Philip Dorsett, and DE/OLB Owamagbe Odighizua
Round 2 Pick 43
What I want: LB Denzel Perryman, University of Miami
You don’t get a player of his caliber in the second round a lot. A mega athlete and a play maker on the defensive side. Strong, fast, and aggressive. Quarterbacks and halfbacks hated him. Perryman played in a 3-4 defense at inside and outside linebacker. Browns linebacker squad is solid, but if you can get better you make it happen. Dansby isn’t young and Mingo has limitations. Perryman has been compared to Ray Lewis and D’Qwell Jackson. It’s time to bring more pressure to opposing offenses and draft him here.
What the Browns may do: WR Devin Smith, Ohio State
You look at the past few Super Bowl winners and realize they just have receivers that can catch the ball. The Seahawks and Patriots didn’t have an A.J. Green or a Dez Bryant. They just had a group of guys that caught the ball and advanced the drive down field. I think that’s what will be going on in Farmer’s head when the Browns are on the clock. He did scout first round receivers, but adding Bowe and Hartline will encourage him to look at other talent in the first instead of going for a possible stellar receiver. In the second round, I think he fills that receiving hole. The front office loves Smith. Even though Buckeyes aren’t favored among the Browns in recent drafts, one comes to Cleveland here. Speed similar to Andrew Hawkins with excellent possession hands. I would personally prefer Dorial Green-Beckham here, but I won’t deny an OSU alumni.
Other options: TE Maxx Williams, DT Carl Davis, and WR Dorial Green-Beckham
Round 3 Pick 77
What I want: RB Duke Johnson, University of Miami
I think its time to add some more depth to the running back position. I am a big fan of Crowell and think he has what it takes to be a starter. West was a solid pick up last year and made up for any mistakes he made. However, we once again didn’t have a one thousand yard rusher last season. Johnson is a tough runner with great vision and sick juke moves. When defensive lines did stop him, he always pushed for another yard or two. His receiving hands bailed out his quarterback’s terrible throws many times. Johnson is a good weapon to have on any squad and worth taking in the third round.
What the Browns may do: DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson
Browns had a hard time stopping the run last year. Injuries to the defensive line were crucial but even before that there needed to be some serious improvements. Jarrett was the middle man in Clemson’s 3-4 defense. Fast for his size and brought serious pressure to the quarterback. His best asset is plugging up holes and bringing running backs to the ground. Pettine will want to draft some depth for his defensive line. They make the move here. I can see him being a difference maker in every game.
Other options: TE Devin Funchess, DT Micheal Bennett, OLB Markus Golden, TE Clive Walford, and QB Garrett Grayson
Round 4 Pick 111
What I want: DT Henry Anderson, Stanford
I’m all for adding more to the defensive line. Anderson played defensive end and tackle for Stanford’s 3-4 defense. His size and speed reminds a little bit of Chris Clemons from the Seattle Seahawks. He brought some serious pressure to the run and pass game. Picking him in the fourth round is a diamond in the ruff.
What the Browns may do: OLB Trey Flowers, Arkansas
Browns let Jabaal Sheard go and Mingo is only good at pressuring the pass game. Flowers would be a great fit for Pettine’s defense. Speed similar to Mingo but with excellent play recognition and containment. There were plays last year where an opposing running back took off for a possible sixty yard touchdown but only ended up with six yards, because Flowers came out of no where and slammed him to the turf. Arkansas played a 3-4 defense similar to the Browns and mixed up Flowers assignments. He could blitz and play zones with no problem. Sounds like a player the Browns could have used last year.
Round 4 Pick 15 (from Buffalo Bills)
What I want: S Gerod Holliman, Louisville
Last year, both Browns safeties, Donte Whitner and Taushaun Gipson, made the Pro Bowl roster last year. Whitner will continue to play his heart out for his hometown, but he only has so many good seasons left in him. Gipson’s injury caused him to miss his Pro Bowl opportunity and on top of that he’s still not signed for next year. No doubt in my mind the Browns give him a long term contract in the near future. However, the team has no depth in that position right now. Holliman was the definition of a ball-hawk for the Cardinals last year. His vision, play recognition, and hands are at pro level already. The only issue he has is his tackling. He had a difficult time consistently bringing players down and stopping the play. Under Pettine, he would improve and be more prepared before week one against the Jets. I wouldn’t be against picking up Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt with this pick instead. He’s a hard hitter similar to former Brown T.J. Ward.
What the Browns may do: C Max Garcia, University of Florida
Farmer didn’t pick up any offensive linemen in free agency this spring. I think he did that on purpose to load up on the young guns in the draft. Last year when Alex Mack went down, the team wasn’t the same. The Browns had only one good running game without him and quarterbacks felt more pressure. Garcia is a solid pick here and a pick I think they make. Putting him on the second string squad gives Pettine some peace of mind just in case Mack gets hurt again. If my predictions are correct, the Browns will have two new offensive linemen after four rounds giving them the depth they needed last year.
Other options for both fourth round picks: TE Nick O’Leary, S Cody Perwitt, and QB Bryce Petty
Conclusion: This is a do or die draft for Ray Farmer. He stepped out of line and made the questionable pick in Johnny Manziel last year. He has done well with free agency and undrafted free agency so far. The text-gate situation would have had him fired on any other team. Because of the Browns instability the past five years and the improvements last year, his job was safe. If you’re familiar with the Browns situation, you know there never has been a true starting quarterback. So why don’t I have any quarterbacks taken in this mock draft? A few reasons. One, I think Farmer realizes drafting a quarterback high in this draft doesn’t make sense after drafting Mr. Football in the first round last year. He needs to show he’s committed to the decision. Second, this draft is stacked with very talented players in every position except quarterback. I almost want to put money down that Winston and Mariota end up with similar careers as the top 2007 draft quarterback prospects had. Remember them? Jamarcus Russell the Raiders answer to their prayers and Brown’s Brady Quinn, who would hold the Lombardi Trophy one day. Not worth the risk. I won’t rule out the Browns drafting a quarterback late in the draft, but I don’t see them making the big move this year (I really hope they don’t). Next year’s class provides a lot more potential including Cleveland’s own Cardale Jones. If the Browns can get this draft right, we could be looking at the makings of a good team for the next few years. GO BROWNS!!!!!