Cleveland Browns: Looking at the 5th, 25th, and 36th pick in the NFL Draft

Nov 23, 2013; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith (16) throws against Hawaii Warriors defensive lineman Beau Yap (92) during the first quarter at War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Warriors 59-56 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

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 Smithquarterback 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 Sankeyrunning 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 Matthewsthe 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.

Topics: 2014 NFL Draft, Cleveland Browns

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  • Jerry

    I don’t know anything about brett smith, but dont you think he would be available later in the draft? Using the number 5 pick on him seems a bit of a stretch when someone like Sammy Watkins will probably be available.

    • Pete Smith

      I don’t know if Brett Smith warrants that pick yet. I will make the decision when he decides to declare and I really go through the tape. I have evaluated Sammy Watkins, though that report is waiting for him to declare to be published. In my opinion, he is a late first round pick. In general, I against taking a WR in the top 10, but if you’re going to do it, it better be an elite receiver like Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green were when they came out. I didn’t think Julio Jones warranted the pick when the Browns traded down.
      As a result, it had to be a quarterback. Without being able to move around, you’re sitting there at 5 with few options. I went with Smith because based on what I watched of him and evaluated last year and a little bit of this year, his talent is fantastic and he is basically a more NFL equipped version of Johnny Manziel.
      I have not evaluated Mike Evans yet, but I doubt I will have any wide receiver graded high enough to go in the top 10 picks and probably not the top 15 picks. Personally, I like what Jordan Matthews brings to the table more than I do Watkins

  • Josh Hart

    If they couldn’t get Bridgewater or Carr with their first pick, they definately shouldn’t reach for a QB. Take Watkins with the first pick and the TE with their second or something like that. Build up the offense and then look to get your QB later. This Smith kid could probably be had in the late second to third round if not later.

    The more I think about it, I doubt they’ll draft a RB before the third round at the earliest. Norv seems to be allergic to running the ball and it’s clear the coaching staff doesn’t value the position highly since McGahee is still starting. The RB from Washington looks good, but they’ll have Dion Lewis returning next year. They’ll need a Carlis Hyde type back that’s a fairly straight forward runner than can do more if asked.

    • Letterman007

      Gotta agree with you on Hyde. The only power back is OB and they would get more use out of Hyde, especially on goal line duty, where they have definitely a problem! Get a good right tackle in free agency.

      • Pete Smith

        They don’t have a problem on the goal line. They have a problem on offense, period.

        • Letterman007

          Yes they have a problem getting into the end zone, In Cincinnati they kicked two field goals at the start of the game!!! Six to 0 or fourteen to 0?. They did it all year and more than just a couple times!!!

          • Pete Smith

            That is a problem of the entire offense; not just simply lacking a power back anymore than it is evidence that Tony Grossi’s absurd claim of needing a fullback is true. There are a ton of ways to get into the end zone. They have an offensive problem.

          • Letterman007

            Yes they do, but it seems they can go between the twenties and stall out in the red zone and kick way to many field goals!! Whether its the play calling or the lack of the right side of the line or a lack of a power back. Its a problem that needs fixed and McGahee isn’t the answer!! Hyde would be much better and he will be GONE before we pick in the third!!!

          • Pete Smith

            They need a running game, period. How they go about getting it is irrelevant to me, but I would not use a second round pick on Hyde.

    • Pete Smith

      Sammy Watkins does not warrant a top 10 pick in my view. I graded him as a late first round pick. If I was not taking a quarterback there, I would have taken Khalil Mack. He was far and away the best player available there. But that does not get them the quarterback they desperately need.
      They can go any number of directions at running back, but the key is drafting them. Sankey, in my opinion, is a tremendous fit in this offense.

  • Mark Murphy

    Browns fans will riot in the streets if we take Smith at 5.

    • Pete Smith

      They should’ve rioted in the streets when they picked Weeden. They didn’t.

      • Mark Murphy

        Except weeden was from a pretty damn good team unlike Wyoming. And this new regime didn’t pick him. This is our biggest draft in the last 20 yrs. You clearly don’t understand the mentality of the Cleveland fan base.

        • Pete Smith

          Weeden was a 28-year old project quarterback. He had no business being picked before round 3.
          It is a huge draft, but so was the one that netted us Richardson and Weeden. That’s exactly the point.

  • Letterman007

    I agree with Jerry, a pick that high is wasted on Smith ! He could come a round or two later. I still like A J McCaron better. He doesn’t have as many issues and played against better competition !!! No tight end at 25. You can get one in the 3rd or4th round,a bigger need is at wide receiver and take Odell Beckham there!!
    I do agree with the running back there. Get the best on the board !! Be it Sankey or Hyde or whomever they like ! But this team needs a number two wide out badly and Little continues to drop balls and Bess is a complete bust !! I’d rather see Cooper get looked at than Bess these last two games. I would cut Bess and McGahee and go with the youth to see what’s there !!

    • Pete Smith

      Personally, I don’t care if it is a wide receiver or a tight end. Both can function in that role as a #2 or #3 option and that is clear with Jordan Cameron working along side Josh Gordon.

      • Letterman007

        McCaron is the better pick, he has proven himself against tougher competition! He’s had enough athleticism to secure two National Championships!! Smith pushed Texas last year and Nebraska this year ? Both teams got blown out this year. I wouldn’t consider either LSU or South Carolina or Auburn, would you? Smith may be O K but you are blind as A J is a play maker who can avoid the rush enough to prolong a play and hit a receiver down field!! I will grant his arm isn’t the strongest, but all the rest is there and if you can’t see it you should go back and watch highlights with an open mind!!! He still can make all the throws necessary in the NFL and doesn’t have near the issues Smith will have. I’d rather have Carr and in 9 days we may have secured the draft spot we need to get him!!!

        • Pete Smith

          McCarron has had one of the offensive lines EVER in college football and he gets himself sacked behind it. No pocket awareness, asked to do very little. Connor Shaw of South Carolina was a better QB than McCarron; he just wasn’t blessed to be surrounded by an obscene amount of talent.

          The best case scenario for McCarron is being Andy Dalton/MattSchaub. He gets the ball to playmakers and they do the work. I look forward to seeing him in Mobile. You can read my full scouting report for McCarron if you want http://withthefirstpick.com/2013/09/19/2014-nfl-draft-scouting-report-j-mccarron-qb-alabama/

          He is a product of the talent around him; NOT someone who makes the talent around him better.

          Chris Leak won a National Title at Florida in the SEC. Tim Tebow won a National; title in the SEC. Neither of them can play dead in the NFL.

          • Letterman007

            We’ll see, I was right two years ago about Wilson, though I have no way to prove it!! I think you are wrong about McCaron. He will not turn out to be Peyton Manning or maybe a Tom Brady, but better than you think. Hayden out and Cameron too . we’ll be moving up the draft board this weekend and all this will be moot! Who knows what Banner and Lumbago will pull out of the hats???

  • paulbip

    The Browns could use a power back and though I’m not an OSU homer, I think Hyde would look good in the third round.

    • Pete Smith

      Hyde in the 3rd round is a reasonable way to go.