Another week, another mock draft to look at; this time, it is from Erik Lambert from NFL Mocks. He brings us a mock of the first round, so let’s take a look at the two picks he made for the Cleveland Browns.
With the fifth pick in the draft, the Browns took Blake Bortles, the quarterback from Central Florida. He has not declared yet, so I have not really evaluated him at this point. The Browns are likely going to take a quarterback, so the position makes sense. It comes down to which one the Browns want and where the value works out. It is still unclear if Bortles is worth going that high, but without being able to move up or down, it can be understandably difficult.
With the 25th pick in the draft, the Browns took Cyril Richardson, the guard from Baylor. The Browns could go this route and I would not put up an argument if they did. From a size, weight, speed standpoint, Richardson is great and there is certainly a great deal of potential going forward. I do have some issues with where he is in terms of his ability to maximize his functional strength. He can have trouble getting push because of his leverage and plays more like an athletic, finesse guard than a power house. On one hand, that is intriguing because he is able to move and shield off opponents while still being a 330lb player who could learn to play with more power. On the other hand, he is not a finished product as a guard.
If I am going with a first round guard, I am taking Gabe Jackson, from Mississippi State. He is simply a bulldozer who really understands the position and gets a ton of push in the running game while being a great pass protector. I would actually like to see Jackson lose a little bit of weight and get down from 340lbs to 325-330lbs in hopes that it makes him a little lighter on his feet. He has shown the ability to play as a left guard, which would make him more valuable to what he can do. Jackson can pull and lead power going to the right and maul opponents as they go down the field. Of the players I have broken down, Jackson is the only one that warranted a first round selection at the guard spot.
Much of this selection will depend on where the Browns view Mitchell Schwartz going forward. If he is to stay at right tackle, then they could be projecting Garrett Gilkey at one guard spot and potentially a player like Jackson or Richardson as the other. If they like Schwartz as a guard, then they might want to use Gilkey as the other one and obviously tackle becomes a much bigger priority.
If the Browns are in search of another tackle, here is a player that could be a really nice pickup in the second round. Meet Joel Bitonio, who played left tackle for Nevada the past few years. He is strong, athletic and just never seems to quit. Bitonio has shown to be a real asset as a run blocker who works to the echo of the whistle while being more than able to hold his own protecting the edge. The question with Bitonio is his height and arm length. He is listed at 6’4″, so there may be questions of whether or not he should kick inside to guard, but he just does his job consistently and effectively. I am a fan of the way he is able to play with a great mean streak and really works to dominate the opponent but does it with good technique. It would not surprise me to see him end up going at the end of round 1 if tackles are flying off of the board, which tends to happen.