As I warned last week in breaking down Sayre Bedinger’s mock draft, I would be doing one this week. I went ahead and did it and went through two rounds of the draft which you can find here. So, I’m going to go through the process I went through when it came to making the three picks the Cleveland Browns had in the two rounds.
In what was undoubtedly a surprise to many, with Teddy Bridgewater gone to the Houston Texans and Derek Carr to Jacksonville with the third pick, the Browns picked Brett Smith, quarterback from Wyoming with the fifth pick. Without getting into the madness of predicting trades, which makes an impossible exercise much more difficult. As a result, the Browns were stuck at fifth pick and had to make a choice. Realistically, that pick is going to be used on the quarterback position. Unless the Browns are going to load up even more on defense, the value is not there for the positions that have to be addressed in my analysis. It would be extremely fun for the Browns to draft Khalil Mack from Buffalo and put him in at inside linebacker next to D’Qwell Jackson, but it is not likely to happen.
I have not gone and fully broken down Smith or Blake Bortles as they have not declared yet, but when they do, I will go further in depth to what they can do in a full scouting report and if anyone is curious, head to draftbreakdown.com to see tape of both. Brett Smith gets little attention because he has played his college football at about 10,000 feet up in Laramie, Wyoming. If people like Johnny Manziel, they should love Smith. For all of the things that Manziel can do, Smith is bigger at 6’3″, has a stronger arm, and is athletic in his own right. He also has some decision making issues that can produce crazy results, both good and bad.
On a team with little talent outside of himself and Robert Herron, the speedy wide receiver, the Cowboys do not have a ton of talent. Nevertheless, Smith was able to push both Texas last year and Nebraska this year to the brink. He is not a finished product, but he is extremely talented and could develop under Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski. Smith is a true junior, but Wyoming fired their head coach Dave Christensen and hired Craig Bohl. Smith might prefer to go ahead and learn his next offense in the NFL as opposed to another year in Laramie, so it seems like a safe bet that he will declare at some point in the near future.
With the 25th pick of the draft from the Indianapolis Colts, the Browns pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the giant tight end from Washington. I have been a big proponent of Jenkins and would love to see him in Cleveland. The position for the Browns was perilously thin coming into the season. With Jordan Cameron in the NFL concussion protocol, it becomes painfully clear just how thin. Beyond that, the NFL is so slanted to allowing tight ends to be dominant that it seems foolish not to take a talented one whenever possible.
Cameron is great as a joker and a slot threat who can play inline but is not at his best there. Jenkins is a dominant inline threat who can help the running game and has shown the ability to be a great blocker. He can also be a big time receiver and does a great job going up and getting the ball. The combination of the two would allow the Browns to run two tight ends and mix up where they played various personnel. The most common way to do it would be to line up Jenkins inline next to the right tackle with Cameron in the slot to the left. That gives the Browns a number of options on where to go with the ball, whether to run or to pass. That also does not account for Josh Gordon, who could play out to the left or right. It gives the Brown a ton of size and strength which makes a difficult matchup for defenses.
With the 36th pick of the draft, the Browns took Bishop Sankey, running back from Washington. I went back and forth on this pick. Personally, I would love to wait until the third round to get a running back and take someone like Jordan Matthews, the wide receiver out of Vanderbilt. He is a terrific receiver that has #1 potential but would be a terrific #2 receiver with his size, strength and speed. He knows how to get open and can make plays after the catch. Between Gordon, Cameron, Jenkins and Matthews, the Browns would have an offense built for the AFC North with plenty of size and strength but plenty of speed as well.
However, I ultimately went with Sankey for a few reasons. First and most importantly, the Browns are taking a rookie quarterback and the best way to help that transition is a running game. As much as the third round might be better in terms of maximizing value at running back, Sankey is arguably the most talented back in the class and could make an instant impact in an area that has been a huge issue for the Browns this past season.
The second part of this is that Sankey is just a tremendous fit in this offense. He is similar to LeSean McCoy in the way he can impact the Browns as a runner and receiving threat. That is the type of back that Norv Turner would seemingly want to get within his offense that can be a bigger threat on screens and check downs. He has a ton of ability as a runner and is natural with how he runs and should only get better as he gets stronger.
While I would opt to go for the receiver with the first round talent and #1 receiver upside, I think the temptation is to take Sankey because of his fit as well as what he could to help ease the transition of a rookie quarterback. For that matter, even if Brian Hoyer were to play quarterback next season or start out as the quarterback, Sankey would help him be more successful as well. A productive running game makes the play action more viable and creates more opportunities for Gordon and Cameron down the field.
The Browns could get a receiver later with great value or address any of the other needs they have including potentially adding more offensive line help, more help at inside linebacker or just depth in the secondary, especially safety. It would not be a surprise to see the Browns go quarterback, wide receiver and running back with those three picks either. The way I went about it, the Browns got their quarterback, a weapon for him in the form of another great tight end and a featured running back that should help the quarterback succeed. That is the thought process I went through with this draft for the Browns. Plenty of people will question Brett Smith and that is fine, but I would suggest people go watch him and not dismiss him purely because he played at Wyoming.