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Browns' Needs in Draft


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The Browns have done pretty well at addressing their needs through free agency and other pickups in the off season. They have three obvious needs that I think they will address in this draft.

 

1. Left Tackle - The retirement of Joe Thomas a few years ago has proven to leave a hole that is hard to fill. Nothing they have done in the intervening years has worked.

 

There are 4 really good Tackles in this year's draft and several more that could be a decent pick in later rounds. The four are Andrew Thomas (UGA), Jedrick Wills (Ala), Tristan Wirfs (IA), Mekhi Bechton (UofL). A fifth T that has been mentioned for the Browns maybe in the 2nd round or later is Ezra Cleveland of Boise St. I'd like to see them take a tackle with their 1st round pick (#10). Of course, if they could trade for a solid veteran T before the draft or during the draft, they could wait until a later round to nab a guy who will be good but need some development. I don't want them to give up the farm to do it, like would be necessary to get Trent Williams.

 

2. Linebacker -- Cleveland let a really good LB go in Joe Schobert because it would have cost too much to keep him. In the unlikely scenario that Isaiah Simmons of Clemson is available at #10, then pick him over the tackle. Simmons is a great talent and it would be hard to pass up. But he is the only LB I'd take in the first round. The rest are 2nd round and later talent so I'm not sure I'd use Cleveland's #41 pick to fill this need.

 

3. Safety - Cleveland still needs help in the defensive backfield. They let some guys go during the offseason and really didn't have all that they needed this past season. So, I think they address this need here. One guy that has been mentioned as their possible #41 pick is Grant Delpit out of LSU. He has great coverage skills but his weakness is tackling.

 

I think Cleveland may look for a strong D-lineman to add depth and another threat. They traded G Kevin Zeitler to the Giants for DE Olivier Vernon and that didn't quite work out. So, they are needing some help on the D-line.

 

The top three needs Cleveland must address in this draft are OT, LB, and Safety.

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Day 2

 

The Browns got their OT with the 10th pick of the first round. Jedrick Wills is thought by many to be the top OT in the draft and when the Giants picked up Andrew Thomas, Wills was available at #10. The other top tackles quickly came off the board after that. Becton of Louisville went to the Jets at #11 and Tristan Wirfs went to the Buccaneers at #13. What is refreshing about this pick for the Browns is that they didn’t over-think the pick. They took the best player at their biggest position of need. Good for the Browns.

 

On Day 2 the Browns will be looking for help on the defense. I look for them to draft a Safety with pick #41. No safeties were taken in the first round so plenty of good options are likely to be available with their 2nd round pick.

Here are the choices: Grant Delpit (LSU), Antoine Winfield Jr (Minnesota), Ashtyn Davis (Cal) who has great range, and Xavier McKinney (Ala) who had a slow 40 time of 4.63. Delpit is the best coverage safety and if available, I expect the Browns to take him.

 

The next position to be addressed is LB. Options are fewer with Zach Baun (Wisconsin) whom I suspect will be gone by the time the Browns pick a LB, Willie Gay Jr (Mississippi St), and Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian St).

 

Of course, teams are always looking for talent and athleticism so this does not rule out taking a Dlineman in the 2nd or 3rd round.

 

But I’m sticking with my assessment that the most urgent needs to be addressed by the Browns are Safety and LB.

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Offense

 

I think the Browns will concentrate on the defense with pick numbers, 41, 74, and 97. However, they may use one of those picks for offense if the right player is available.

 

The two positions that need addressed most on offense are WR and Guard, in that order. Wide receivers available as we start the second round are UK's Lynn Bowden, Clemson's Lee Higgins, Michigan's Donovan Peoples Jones, and Michael Pittman Jr. from USC.

 

Guards that are available are Robert Hunt (Louisiana), Damien Lewis (LSU), Netane Muti (Fresno State).

 

The Browns need depth at WR because they've let a couple go in the offseason and who knows what will happen with OBJ? If they can add some good depth on the Oline this will be a strength of the team. Stefanski and GM Andrew Jones have transformed their line from a position of weakness this offseason to one of strength. Add Wills at LT and you have Pro Bowl LG Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter at C, and Jack Conklin at RT, and two young guys vying for RG. If they add another guard in the third round this will give them good depth to start the season.

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I really like what the Browns have done in the draft on Days 1 & 2. Their first and second round picks were at an "A" level.

 

Drafting the best OT at #10 wasn't a big splash. But it was exactly what they needed to do. There were still 3 top OTs left, with Andrew Thomas of Georgia having been previously drafted by the Giants at #4. But Cleveland got the best Tackle in the draft.

 

In round two they dropped down three slots and still managed to pick up the best Safety in the draft, LSU's Grant Delpit. He is by far the best cover safety available, had the most run stops of any safety, and had the highest forced incompletion rating of any safety in the draft. These are the kinds of things "analytics" consider significant. He did all of this while playing on a high ankle sprain which some say accounts for his increased trouble tackling in 2019 compared to his efforts in 2018.

 

In round three they picked up depth at LB, a position that needed to be addressed, and also depth at DLine.

 

I think they are doing well.

 

The last day of the draft is probably going to be about adding depth to the roster where needed. I don't look for big impact players to emerge here.

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DPJ has very high upside.

 

I agree. I think this will prove to be a Rd 6 steal in a couple of years. I know Urban Meyer recruited him hard out of high school in Detroit where he was a 5-star recruit. Donovan Peebles Jones is an athlete and will be on special teams to start. At 6-1, 212 and 4.48 speed, he has potential to make an impact.

 

One has to wonder how different this draft would have been for him had he gone to OSU. Michigan didn't have the QB, team, or coach that could bring out the best in him. Imagine him with the talent surrounding him at OSU and the good QBs who would have been pitchin' him the ball. Urban would have found a way to get him involved in the offense.

 

Well, that's the past. As a result of going to Michigan, I think the Browns got a lot of talent and potential for it being a late round pick.

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