It seems like the Browns are always awful and should be picking at the top of the draft year in and year out. But in reality, they have selected (and some of this is because of trades) 8th, 12th, and 15th overall during the past three drafts. That’s probably for the best. They don’t do so well when they have earlier picks: see Trent Richardson (third overall in 2012) and Barkevious Mingo (sixth overall in 2013).
Barring more trades, the Browns will be one of the first teams to pick when the draft moves to Philadelphia in late April. If the season ended today, they’d be at the mic first. (Sorry, San Fran, that was a costly win in Week 1.)
What will the Browns, and the other 31 teams, do in the opening round? Let’s mock it up.
Mock Draft 1.0
1. Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett, DE (Texas A&M)
Cleveland needs a QB, but there are no stone cold sure bets at the signal caller position; new general manager Paul DePodesta will go for a sure-thing in Garrett. Out of the same college as fellow edge rusher Von Miller, Garrett will be a force for years to come at an important spot on the field.
2. San Francisco 49ers -– DeShone Kizer, QB (Notre Dame)
Though Cleveland can show patience, the Niners will not. You might recall they had a QB from Notre Dame that worked out rather well (Joe Montana won four Super Bowls). If Kizer decides to enter the draft, and he will if it is clear he’ll be an early pick, he’ll provide San Francisco with mobility, a good arm, and hope.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jonathan Allen, DE (Alabama)
The best player on the best college team in the country, Allen is versatile with an ability to play inside and out, and he gets to the quarterback consistently. He stops the run, and coming back for his senior year with the Crimson Tide has made him close to a finished product.
4. Chicago Bears -– DeShaun Watson, QB (Clemson)
The Jay Cutler era comes to a close, finally. Though the Bears have lots of holes to fill, Watson brings not only an ability to run and pass, but hope and promise and someone to get excited about. He is a winner, and Chicago needs that.
5. New York Jets –- Mitch Trubisky, QB (North Carolina)
Though the Jets picked Christian Hackenberg in the second round last year, few think he is the answer under center. They cannot repeat the disaster that has been Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith. When your best QB over a decade is Chad Pennington, you need to be bold in the first round. Trubisky has the feel of a late-first-round guy that scouts fall in love with. He has a big arm and great size.
6. Cincinnati Bengals -– Jabrill Peppers, DB (Michigan)
He can do a little of everything, whether it be covering, in the return game, or even running the ball. Peppers is a talent and versatile, and the Bengals roster has gotten old. A player that can be used in a variety of ways would provide a spark for Cincinnati.
7. San Diego Chargers -– Malik McDowell, DE (Michigan State)
The Chargers have been beat up by injuries for several seasons, and while Joey Bosa is having a very good rookie campaign, he doesn’t play up front as some experts suggested he may. McDowell is stout and can play inside or out, a nice combo for the Chargers.
8. Tennessee Titans (From Rams) -– Malik Hooker, S (Ohio State)
The back end of the Titan defense needs improving more than anything. Hooker is perhaps the best secondary player in the draft, but since DB is valued over S, he’ll go after Peppers.
9. Carolina Panthers -– Cam Robinson, OT (Alabama)
A young running back would be great, and the secondary desperately needs help, but more than anything the Panthers need to keep Cam Newton healthy. There are some red flags off the field, but Robinson has been very good against the best pass rushers in the NCAA, and should be an impact player at the next level.
10. New Orleans Saints –- Jamal Adams, SS (LSU)
The Saints need defensive help in the worst way, and no team in the league should have a better scouting report on the LSU safety. There are high-end secondary players available in this draft, but the quality drops off considerably pretty quickly. Adams is the last of the elite safety prospects.
11. Arizona Cardinals –- Jalen Tabor, CB, (Florida)
Somebody needs to play opposite Patrick Peterson. Tabor is a risk taker and playmaker. He feels like a good combo for Bruce Arians, who gameplans for big plays on both sides of the ball.
12. Tennessee Titans –- Carl Lawson, DE (Auburn)
Already having added a man in the secondary, the Titans find the edge rusher they need. I’m sure the Tennessee brass would salivate at the prospect of Lawson forcing quick throws and Hooker playing center field on the resulting ducks. While Lawson has battled injuries, when on the field, he is a player quarterbacks must account for.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers –- Dalvin Cook, RB (Florida State)
The Bucs get an offensive playmaker to add to a young core with the local product out of FSU. It is easy to fall in love with a guy that really checks every box.
14. Green Bay Packers –- Tim Williams, DE (Alabama)
The Packers could use a top-tier running back, but the defense has been so bad recently, and Ted Thompson rarely uses early picks on backs. Williams is steady. He isn’t great against the run, but gets in the backfield consistently facing the pass.
15. Indianapolis Colts -– Leonard Fournette, RB (LSU)
Fournette is a great fit for the Colts, who haven’t had a true RB1 in years. Indy can pass the ball, and the offensive line has been much improved this year, but the aging Frank Gore is leaving meat on the bone. Fournette is a workhorse who could make the Colt offense truly terrifying.
16. Cleveland Browns (From Eagles) –- Reuben Foster, LB, (Alabama)
During DePodesta’s days with the Oakland A’s, he preferred to draft players with lower upsides to ensure they’d get capable big league players. Now with the Browns, he takes a steady linebacker from a great program who is excellent attacking the run and in coverage.
17. Buffalo Bills –- Corey Davis, WR (Western Michigan)
Sammy Watkins is never healthy and the Bills have several wideouts likely to leave in free agency. While some think Mike Williams is the best pass catcher in the draft, it is hard to see Buffalo taking another Clemson guy after they’ve run into problems multiple times doing that before. Davis should start in the slot from day one.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers -– Derek Barnett, DE (Tennessee)
Consistent and strong, Barnett could easily be gone by this stage in the draft. If he’s still around, this hard-nosed edge rusher is exactly what the Steelers need. He has gotten better each year in Knoxville.
19. Washington Redskins –- Adoree Jackson, CB (USC)
One of a large group of corners that could go anywhere from the 10th to 40th, Jackson has been among the better players at USC during the Trojans’ sudden resurgence. He has (almost) Olympic caliber athleticism and adds the ability to return kicks.
20. Miami Dolphins –- Zach Cunningham, LB (Vanderbilt)
His college team isn’t very good, but Cunningham runs from sideline to sideline making plays. He isn’t a great tackler, but his aggressiveness and speed are big pluses.
21. Baltimore Ravens –- Mike Williams, WR (Clemson)
Steve Smith and Mike Wallace are well past their primes. Williams has great body control. He runs good routes and can get inside on corners.
22. Detroit Lions –- Marshon Lattimore, CB (Ohio State)
Well coached in college, Lattimore is another corner that could go anywhere in the top-15 or fall to the mid second round. How he plays down the stretch and measures at the combine will go a long way towards determining where he gets slotted. I see him being a nice complement to Darius Slay in the needy Detroit secondary.
23. Houston Texans –- Marlon Humphrey, CB (Alabama)
A polished product, Humphrey will play immediately. Like Lattimore, he’ll have a national stage to end this season. He feels like a long-term second corner, but he could be even better than that.
24. Philadelphia Eagles (From Vikings) –- Sydney Jones, CB (Washington)
He’s athletic and breaks on the ball very well. It says something that opposing defenses in the Pac-12 avoid throwing to his side a huge majority of the time.
25. Atlanta Falcons –- Charles Harris, DE (Missouri)
He can get to the perimeter, and the Falcons need an edge rusher. Harris loves the spin move. He has good hands. It isn’t clear how good he will be against the run.
26. New York Giants –- Mason Rudolph, QB (Oklahoma State)
In reality the Giants probably trade this pick and grab Rudolph at the start of the second round. Either way, it’s time to plan for Eli Manning’s retirement. They can give Rudolph – an accurate passer who handles pressure well – a year or two in the system before he has to start.
27. Denver Broncos –- Desmond King, CB (Iowa)
King is really good defending near the goal line and has very high IQ. A productive player since he arrived at Iowa, he’ll transition well to the NFL.
28. Kansas City Chiefs –- Juju Smith-Schuster, WR (USC)
When he’s fully focused, Smith-Schuster is a big time down field target. The Chiefs could use a burner that stretches the field.
29. Seattle Seahawks –- Mike McGlinchey, OT (Notre Dame)
It’s no secret where the Seahawks are lacking. McGlinchey is excellent in the run game for a tackle and has played both sides for the Irish.
30. Oakland Raiders -– Christian McCaffrey, RB (Stanford)
Al Davis is no longer with us, but his son runs the team. Sure, a defender makes more sense, but this is the Raiders. A local guy, who’s dad played in the AFC West, McCaffrey is a weapon, and Oakland loves those.
31. New England Patriots –- Gareon Conley, CB (Ohio State)
Bill Belichick trusts Urban Meyer, and Conley can cover in a man defense. He’ll be prepared, and that’s what New England mandates.
32. Dallas Cowboys –- Solomon Thomas, DE (Stanford)
So much of the Cowboys success has come up front. It’s time to to start matching the talent on the o-line with some first-rounders for the d-line. This athletic Cardinal is equally adept against the run and pass.
Photo credit: Thompson20192 (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/].