Cleveland Browns: 5 Senior Bowl players to watch for on draft day
The Cleveland Browns coaching staff got an up-close look at the seniors in Saturday’s Senior Bowl. Here are 5 of those players worth drafting.
The Cleveland Browns coaching staff earned their first victory in 2017 by leading the South to victory on Saturday in the Senior Bowl.
But the Senior Bowl is less about wins and losses than about evaluating talent. The talent was abundant in Mobile, Ala., but were the Browns coaches paying attention?
The Browns should have little problem identifying talented players to choose in rounds 1-3 in the 2017 NFL Draft. It is the later rounds, however, that make a team great. Hitting on players in rounds 4-7 is what takes a team to the next level.
The Browns potentially hold five day three picks and coaching the Senior Bowl put the Browns in position to work with several players who fall in the 4-7 round range. Here are five players the coaching staff worked with last week that Browns should consider in the later rounds.
Alex Anzalone, Linebacker, Florida
Alex Anzalone showed why he was highly recruited out of high school at the Senior Bowl. He played strong inside linebacker for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and he did not disappoint.
The most impressive aspect of Anzalone’s performance was his awareness on the field. At one point he did an excellent job of identifying a screen and stopping it before it started. He also called the plays while he was on the field. Add the intelligence factor to his physical gifts and he could be a surprise starter in later rounds.
Anzalone does come with a buyer beware sign as he was injury prone during his time at the University of Florida.
Obi Melinfonwu, Free Safety, Connecticut
Obi Melinfonwu may be one of the most intriguing safeties in the draft. He is tall (6-foot-4) and big (219 pounds) for the position, but has the speed and coverage ability to play safety.
A four-year starter at the University of Connecticut, Melinfonwu impressed the Senior Bowl coaches with his coverage ability and range. Combining those two means that Melinfonwu could be a project turned starter in the NFL.
The Browns should strongly consider Obi Melinfonwu and hope he truly has Jedi-like ability.
Carlos Watkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Carlos Watkins would be a good draft pick for a team looking for pass rush help in the interior as Watkins struggles against the run as he does not anchor his body well.
At the Senior Bowl, Watkins was average against the run but stood out in the passing game as he pressured the North quarterbacks up the middle the entire game.
He could make a good complement to Danny Shelton, who is a great run defender but comes off for pass situations, which is where Watkins could come into play.
Lorenzo Jerome, Safety, St. Francis University
Lorenzo Jerome undoubtedly was the big winner from both the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl. In those two games, he combined for four interceptions and a forced fumble.
His play was very impressive as a free safety, and Jerome also excelled as a kick and punt returner where the Browns needs help. Jerome would fit in the Browns secondary as a project free safety who could develop into a solid starter, while producing on special teams as a returner.
Jerome played college ball in the FCS, which can make evaluation difficult, but players from the FCS have succeeded in the NFL so if they are interested that should not scare off the Browns.
Dalvin Tomlinson, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Dalvin Tomlinson is another Alabama prospect that plays like he is pro-ready as he has good leverage and technique.
He is at his best against the run as a middle of the defensive line run stopper, making him a candidate who could be a rotational defender for the Browns. Line him up alongside Danny Shelton at defensive tackle and the run will be stopped.
In the Senior Bowl, Tomlinson was excellent against the run but struggled in pass rush situations. He is ready to be a rotational defender, but will need to develop a pass rush to start in the NFL.
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The Browns have a projected five day three picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Their experience from the Senior Bowl should put the Browns coaching staff and front office in position to hit on those selections.
If they can, the Browns will improve quicker than anticipated.