Perfect Picks: Cleveland Browns
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper. Let’s start at the top of the draft board with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Browns began the 2019 season full of optimism. Finally, their miserable performances had allowed them to build a roster that fans could get excited over. Freddie Kitchens’ ability to get Baker Mayfield performing had given him the top job and the organisation gave him plenty of offensive weapons. As we all know, things didn’t go to plan and the Browns are facing another reboot. Let’s take a look at how new GM Andrew Berry could use the draft to help the Browns.
Round 1 - Pick 10 - Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Adding Odell Beckham Jr to the Browns’ roster was the headline act of the off-season last year. The belief was that Baker Mayfield would thrive surrounded by the likes of Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Beckham. The unfortunate reality was that the Browns continued to struggle in the trenches, something they haven’t solved since the departure of stalwart Joe Thomas in 2018.
That’s exactly why Cleveland could plump for an offensive tackle with their first pick. Mekhi Becton’s rise up draft boards has been nothing short of meteoric. Peaking with him as the 4th overall pick in a recent Daniel Jeremiah mock draft. The junior is a monstrous 6’7, 369lbs. Despite his bulk Becton shows the athleticism to pull and attack the second level. He has plenty of pop in his hands. If developed properly he could be the anchor on the o-line the Browns need.
Round 2 - Pick 41 - Grant Delpit, S, LSU
The Browns are beginning to put together a talented secondary. Denzel Ward has been as advertised, while Greedy Williams could be the long term solution on the opposite side. At safety there are more question marks. Damarious Randall is due to hit free agency, Morgan Burnett is recovering from a significant injury and Sheldrick Redwine still needs development.
The way this draft played out means the Browns find a solution at the top of the second round. Grant Delpit was considered a lock for the top 10 preseason so to find him at this spot would be ideal for the Browns. There were certainly question marks over his physicality this year but other than that he remains an elite talent at the position. Perhaps, Delpit was protecting himself from any significant injuries. If that’s the case expect him to be back to full throttle once he arrives in the NFL.
Flex Pick - Pick 41 - Josh Uche, Edge, Michigan
NFL defensive coordinators will tell you that you can’t have too many pass rushers. Myles Garrett expects to be free of suspension by the season start but the future of Olivier Vernon remains unclear. He could be a surprise cap casualty. Even if he stays a player like Michigan’s Josh Uche could be a useful addition.
Uche demonstrated his ability to get to the Quarterback in an impressive Senior Bowl week. His versatility would be a major boon for the Browns defense. With a lack of depth at the linebacker spot also, Uche could be viewed as a replacement for impending free agent Joe Schobert. Uche is athletic enough to backpedal in coverage and rangy in the run game. His pass rush ability simply gives him an x-factor teams will likely value highly.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 74 - Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
It’s fair to say that David Njoku hasn’t lived up to his first round billing. Having displayed flashes of talent, 2019 was a season ruined by injury and then a reported difference of opinion with Head Coach Freddie Kitchens. It could be a fresh start with a new coaching staff but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Tight End addressed particularly if a talent like Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet was available at this spot.
Kmet is looking to continue the tradition of Notre Dame Tight Ends having success at the next level. The Fighting Irish can rightly consider themselves ‘Tight End U’ having produced the likes of Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert. Kmet is a similar mould. A solid blocker, who can split out wide and play as a big slot receiver. That versatility means Kmet could replace Njoku or equally they could be a tantalising duo in a two tight end lineup.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 221 - Dane Jackson, CB, Pittsburgh
Adding depth to your secondary group is a must in the pass-heavy offensive game the NFL now favours. The Browns have plenty of young talent at the spot but they should continue to add to this in the upcoming draft.
Dane Jackson is a lean cornerback who was a team captain for Pittsburgh. His undeniable talent at corner is confirmed by his high PFF rating of 79.2 in 2019 for the Panthers. During his time at the recent Senior Bowl, he demonstrated his coverage ability well. Comfortable in man coverage, he shows his talent in mirroring receivers and long speed to recover well if beaten over the top. He’ll need to clean up his game at the next level, as he can get overly handsy, but in the seventh round he would be a great pick up.
Draft in full
10. Mekhi Becton (OT)
41. Grant Delpit (S)
74. Cole Kmet (TE)
90. Damien Lewis (G)
105. Kenny Willekes (Edge)
167. Justin Strnad (LB)
221. Dane Jackson (CB)
Feature Image Credit: Phil Long (Associated Press)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.c