There are still some huge story lines to keep an eye on in free agency with the Cleveland Browns; the most notable being Alex Mack, but it is time to get back into the draft. This is where this team has been building toward since last year and they have to make it count. So, in an effort to get back into the draft and start discussing some of the positions, here is my ‘dream scenario’ as of March 24th, going all 7 rounds with players I have broken down so far.
I would be thrilled with Bridgewater too. Bridgewater may be the better QB, but Carr may be better for what the Browns want to do and he has far more upside. For all of the talk about what the team has said they want, there have been people who have argued that it was Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or whomever. All of the characteristics they say they want in those guys, Derek Carr possesses. He is also similar to the athletic, big armed quarterbacks that have had a lot of success in the Shanahan type offense, both under Kyle and Mike.
I have been driving the Carr bandwagon for quite a while and along with Bridgewater are the only two quarterbacks I have given a first round grade. The Browns may want to trade down to get Carr, but when all is said and done, if he is their guy, they will probably just have to take him at 4. Carr and Brian Hoyer compete for the job. Simple.
The overwhelming depth of this class at wide receiver and how fast linemen go, I wouldn’t rule out Beckham lasting, though it may be unlikely. Based on my analysis, Beckham is better in my opinion than Sammy Watkins right now and has more potential going forward. He also gives the Browns a badly needed quickness and speed element which goes with vertical type of players they have in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Andrew Hawkins is a similar type of player but nowhere near as talented.
His hands are enormous and outstanding. He tracks the ball extremely well, has made more than a few spectacular catches bailing out Zach Mettenberger this past year and he has all the speed and quickness the team could want. Beckham was faster at the combine than Watkins as well for however much that is worth. He is just scratching the surface of his abilities. And although he is unlikely to do much returning here, his experience as a terrific returner while at LSU only serve to reinforce his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands.
I have been a huge fan of Bitonio for a while. All he’s done is play well, get after people in the running game and bring a nasty streak to the position. Schwartz can kick inside and the Browns get more athletic on the outside. He has played well against great competition, was good at the Senior Bowl, and was fantastic at the Scouting Combine. There is talk about the possibility of taking Greg Robinson at 4, but this just seems like a realistic scenario at a substantially better value for what they need.
In adding Bitonio, they improve the right guard spot as well, moving Mitchell Schwartz inside and they upgrade two spots with one move. Schwartz can play right tackle and they could let the value of the board make that decision for them, but he was given substantial help in blocking with tight ends and running backs in protection. He should be far better inside and be able to help with the running game there.
In my opinion, he’s better than Justin Gilbert. He is unbelievably good in man coverage without grabbing the opponent. Gaines projects as an ideal weak side corner with good length and elite physical skills if he can keep developing and get more physical. They can start him out as a third corner if needed and bring him in and move Buster Skrine to the slot in nickel. Hopefully, he could take the starting job opposite of Joe Haden after a year or two. Skrine would be a fantastic nickel option, but his contract is up after the season and they will need to make a decision on him.
I have a second round grade on him, but the nature of the position and how blocking tight ends are viewed could push him down the board. He’s a fantastic blocker and I thought he had better quickness and speed than some expected in Mobile, enabling him to be a surprise in getting open and creating separation down the field. That quickness and speed showed up at the combine. Fiedorowicz upside as a pass catcher but further cements the right side of the line in the running game; no offense to Jim Dray or Gary Barnidge. Tight ends are important to Shanahan’s offense and having a second one that can catch and block well would be extremely beneficial.
At this point, the picks are no longer numbered as they are all about to change when compensatory picks are announced this week.
Running backs are going to go for cheap and with Ben Tate in the fold, the Browns could go with a utility type player or add a pure runner to spell him. I went with the pure runner scenario and while he has questions with his blocking and hands, Mason is incredibly gifted as a runner. Having him as the second runner to Tate and competing with guys like Dion Lewis could give the Browns a badly needed infusion of talent in the backfield and take pressure off of their quarterback.
It is not clear why Smallwood declared after this past season, but he really, really good when it playing the run in the middle. He takes on blocks well and is able to get to the ball carrier effectively. Smallwood is a great fit in this type of scheme and is at his best attacking forward. He improved in coverage this past year, but still developing that area of his game and he still has upside.
Smallwood has the potential to come in and start as a 2-down run stopper, but will take him in improving his ability in coverage and while he could eventually become a full service player, the Browns need someone who can come in and be a good run stopper along with Karlos Dansby.
With the news that the Pittsburgh Steelers are signing Arthur Moats, the Browns have an even bigger hole at inside linebacker. I actually had the Browns taking Cody Latimer, the receiver from Indiana until this came across the newswire.
With that, it gives me a chance to highlight another tough, inside linebacker with good athleticism who is not afraid to mix it up in the middle and take on blockers. He needs to get better with angles on plays to the outside, but he has shown more skill than Smallwood in coverage. Williamson has some intriguing upside as an all-around player with the right team. The Browns and Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme could be a great situation for him.
6. Alden Darby, S Arizona State
I have no idea where he’s gonna go. I saw a guy with top 100 tape and I love this guy’s game. He was the second best defender I watched at Arizona State this past year behind Sutton. He’s impressive in everything he can do for a team not only on defense but also on special teams. Great instincts, does his job and makes plays. He would work to improve the extremely questionable depth at safety behind Donte Whitner.
Well, he’s 5’8 3/4″ but he has shown at 192lbs, he is not afraid to play downhill and will hit. He was brought up as a corner before moving to safety Could help as a depth corner, but has the ability to help at free safety as well and he is another guy who was terrific on special teams for the Ducks. The Browns also need depth and competition for Tashaun Gipson.
There were a number of players that I would have liked to include somewhere in here; some of which will be discussed in future posts and could be drafted as great fits for the Browns. Nevertheless, this would be a fantastic situation if they can pull it off, substantially improving the offense and getting 5 players that should be able to contribute immediately on offense and a pair on defense while getting guys that Chris Tabor can use to bolster the team’s special teams as well as players that may be able to contribute down the road.
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