Whelp! They did it! After several mediocre seasons, the Browns saw the bottom of the barrel and had themselves a winless season. A season that included a botched trade deadline trade, another failed rookie quarterback experiment, the collapse of a Hall of Fame career, the return of a troubled receiver, and a parade celebration for their failed efforts. Stating the obvious, it was one to forget. Especially if you’re Hugh Jackson, who will enter his 3rd season with a 1-33 team record. It can’t get any worse right?! Lets hope not. But with every dark cloud there is a silver lining. The only win the Browns had this season was firing Sashi Brown and hiring one of the best NFL executives in the league, John Dorsey. The man has a history of putting together a winning enviornment and had one Super Bowl winning team. He actually reunited with key members of the Packers front office that helped assemble the 2011 championship team. Something that didn’t happen while Dorsey was in Kansas City. It could be the most experienced front office the Browns have had since 2002 which was the last season they made the playoffs. So is the tide turning? Will the Browns actually have a bright, winning future? Or is this just another tease and nothing will change? We’ll find out soon. Until then, Dorsey has a boat load of draft picks in the 2018 draft to help mold the future of Cleveland Browns football. Here’s my predictions and preferences for the first 4 rounds of the Browns 2018 draft.
Key Additions: WR Jarvis Landry, QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Carlos Hyde, S Damarius Randall, CB E.J. Gaines, OT Chris Hubbard, and QB Drew Stanton.
Key Departures: OT Joe Thomas, QB Deshone Kizer, QB Cody Kessler, QB Kevin Hogan, RB Isaiah Crowell, DT Danny Shelton, and CB Jason McCourtney.
Here is what I think the Cleveland Browns will do.
Round 1, Pick 1: QB Sam Darnold, USC
John Dorsey made it clear that part of his mission in Cleveland would be to find the franchise quarterback. Tyrod Taylor will be 29th different starter since 1999. There isn’t one specific quarterback in this class that screams out superstar. The one they pick will have to sit on the bench for a few years just like Aaron Rodgers did after Dorsey drafted him in 2005. Many rumors about Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield picked here, but I think that’s just a smokescreen. Dorsey, Jackson, and Haslam were at Darnold’s pro day. The look on Haslam’s face said it all. I have reason to believe his name will be called with the number 1 overall pick. This is coming off an overall disappointing Junior season at USC. He had mostly underclassmen at the offensive line and receiving core that really hurt him statistically. Against great defenses, such as Ohio State, he was average at best. He also had issues with turnovers. But the kid has a high ceiling and great leadership skills. Players around him loved playing with him and he was a winner at the collegiate level. Darold will be the 1st quarterback Cleveland takes 1st overall since Tim Couch. Let’s hope for a better result.
*Browns trade 4th overall pick and Corey Coleman to Cardinals for 15th overall, 47th overall, and 2019 1st round pick. Browns trade 15th overall and Arizona 2019 1st to Colts for 6th overall pick*.
This is probably the boldest prediction I’ve ever had in any mock draft I’ve ever done. But draft day gets wacky at times and I expect the Browns to make it interesting. After Darnold, Barkely, and Mayfield are off the board, Cardinals decide to shake it up. Carson Palmer has retired and Sam Bradford is just as injury prone as Palmer. They need a future plan under center. They also want another wide reciever too. Browns are extremely disappointed in Coleman and have interest in letting him go. Yes, that would mean another former Browns 1st rounder out the door. Arizona offers there top 2 picks and their 1st next year. Browns can’t resist but still want to draft again in the top ten. This is where the Colts come in. Indianapolis has been stockpiling on draft picks since their trade with the Jets. Another 1st rounder next year could help them immensely especially if Luck doesn’t come back the same player. Josh Allen and Quienten Nelson are now off the board going into the 6th pick. As a result . . .
Round 1, Pick 6 (NYJ from IND): DE Bradley Chubb, NC State
I can hear Rothleisberger, Flacco, and Dalton gulp from here. Browns just created a nightmare for AFC North offenses. Myles Garrett and Bradley Chubb on the same line?! I can see the fantasy coming to a reality. Browns need playmakers bad. Chubb would be the best one on the board when they’re on the clock. The Browns were, believe it or not, one of the best at stopping the run last year. Chubb would keep that trend going. Rotating him with Ogbah would wear out offensive lines and open opportunities for stops. Browns could be making a similar defensive front than the Denver Broncos had 3 years ago.
Round 2, Pick 33: CB Donte Jackson, LSU
Browns defensive back squad the past 2 seasons has been atrocious to say the least. One of the big reasons they have won one game the past two seasons. Dorsey went right to work adding three new cornerbacks and trading for Damarius Randall. Moving Randall to free safety and Jabrill Peppers to strong safety could make a world of difference in their back field. However, they don’t have that one shut down cornerback anymore. They added depth and experience but they need a standout corner to matchup against the league’s top receivers. Jackson can learn from the veterans and work his way up there. I expect the Browns to use one of their first four picks on a defensive back.
Round 2, Pick 35 (HOU): DT Maurice Husrt Jr., Michigan
Danny Shelton has been traded leaving a hole at defensive tackle. Browns have a solid young group in Ogunjobi, Coley, and Brantley. Hurst has Pro Bowl potential and would fit in the mix with that young defensive line.
Round 2, Pick 47 (ARI): WR James Washington, Oklahoma St.
When the Browns needed receivers in the past, they never got them. I don’t know why but it has irritated fans the past 10 years. Dorsey has a history of grabbing receivers early and often in the draft. He takes the best available receiver here with this pick.
Round 2, Pick 64 (PHI): S Marcus Allen, Penn St.
Browns traded their 3rd round pick for Tyrod Taylor. They could trade back in but to be safe they secure the best safety on the board with the last pick of the 2nd round. Damarius Randall isn’t guarenteed to work out at free safety, so Browns need a back up plan.
Round 4, Pick 114 (GB): OT Brandon Parker, NC A&T
Joe Thomas called it quits leaving a big hole in left tackle. Hubbard was signed to play right tackle and Browns plan on moving Shon Coleman to left. Parker would be a good prospect to have in case Coleman doesn’t work out.
There are my predictions, so here is what I would prefer the Browns to do with their picks.
Round 1, Pick 1: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn St.
The way I see it, if you have the number 1 pick in the entire draft you need to pick the best potential football player. Browns actually did it right with Myles Garrett last year. There isn’t a stand out quarterback in this class. Quality quarterbacks, but no one who will come right out of the gate. I love the Tyrod Taylor trade. He could be Cleveland’s starter for at least the next 3 years if he stays healthy. Taylor will need all the help he can get. In a passing league, the running back is still relevant. Look at the Cowboys down fall without Elliot. Seahawks struggled to adjust when Lynch retired. Barkley is a game changer and would take pressure off of Taylor. Browns need a work horse running back. Hyde and Jackson are great but if you can upgrade, you upgrade. Make the 1st overall pick the playmaker you need and start finding ways to win with him. For the record, I’m a big fan of Baker Mayfield, but Barkely seems much more fitting here.
*Trade the 4th pick with the Bills for the 12th, 28th, and 2019 1st round pick. Trade the 22nd, Bills 2019 1st, and mutiple mid-late round picks to Colts for the 6th pick.*
I like the idea of trading down and then back up. So why would it be the Bills this time and not the Cardinals? If the Browns pick Barkley instead of Darnold, the whole scenario changes. Giants don’t plan on drafting in the top 10 again the next few seasons, so they draft the heir to Eli Manning with their pick, which I believe will be Rosen (it will be the first shocking pick of the draft). Mayfield goes to Jets. Darnold falls to Browns at number four. However, I don’t mind Darnold but he isn’t the direction I would prefer to go. This pushes the Bills to go all in. As a result, I say tell Indianapolis if they want the mutiple picks including the Bills 2019 1st rounder, they must trade down to 22nd and not 12th. Worst case scenerio, you have the 12th and 22nd pick in the draft. Colts accept the trade to gain more picks. That being said, I would like the 6th pick used on . . .
Round 1, Pick 6 (NYJ from IND): DE Bradley Chubb, NC State
The Browns and I are in an agreement here. I would love to see Chubb in orange and brown next season. Blossom that defensive line into something scary.
Round 1, Pick 12 (BUF): OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Joe Thomas gone. It’s time to find a way to fill that big void in the offensive line. I’m not huge on Shon Coleman filling in at left tackle. McGlinchey would be a project. Notre Dame said he was better at right tackle than left. He needs to work on strength and technique to be successful at the NFL level. Great leadership skills and consistently healthy. I like the idea of making him a Cleveland Brown.
Round 2, Pick 33: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t picked a quarterback yet. Well here he is!!! Some analyst have him going in the 1st round, but I say he slips to day 2. Jackson didn’t play a whole lot of tough defenses in college. He used his legs alot more than he will in the pro level. However, his 6’3 frame with great arm strength and accuracy can’t be over looked. He reminds me of Dak Prescott in a way and has some flashes of Cam Newton. Tyrod Taylor would be the perfect mentor for him. Be patient with him and you could see some serious results.
Round 2, Pick 35 (HOU): WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
In my scenerio, I actually kept Coleman. Giving the kid a second chance. Landry was a great pick up. Gordon needs to keep clean. Higgins could be an underrated player on the roster. But in the NFL you can’t have enough receivers. Kirk has possession hands, speed, and some of the best field awareness in this draft class. He had the best YAC in the NCAA this season. In case Coleman doesn’t pan out, you have Christian Kirk.
Round 2, Pick 64 (PHI): CB Mike Hughes, UCF
I’ve expressed my disappointment and displeasure with the Browns defensive back group. They pissed me off just as much as the Golden State Warriors. Dorsey added much depth but he will need to add more. Hughes off the field issues keeps him on the board at 64. He will not start right away but he kind of reminds me a little bit of Tyrann Mathieu. Explosive and athletic.
Round 4, Pick 114 (GB): DT RJ McIntosh, Miami
The defensive tackle position needs to be addressed at some point in this draft. It’s up in the air where McIntosh falls in the mid rounds. It is possible he falls to this pick. I dig this kid alot. Good head on his shoulders, comes from a football family, knows the game, and can play anywhere on the defensive line. It would be a win for the Browns landing McIntosh.