PFF mock draft may not please some Browns fans

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Maurice Hurst #73 of the Michigan Wolverines sacks J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the fourth quarter of their game at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Maurice Hurst #73 of the Michigan Wolverines sacks J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the fourth quarter of their game at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have five selections in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, and Pro Football Focus makes those pick in their latest mock draft.

The Cleveland Browns worked hard the past two seasons (they really did!) to maneuver themselves into a position for a franchise-altering weekend at the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Browns are in possession of five selections in the first two rounds of the draft, including the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks, giving general manager John Dorsey the assets he needs to finally solve the quarterback issue while also giving a major boost to other areas of the roster.

The actual draft is still a little more than three weeks away, however, which has given rise to the silly season of rumors and “insider information” about what the Browns intend to do with all those draft picks.

It is also the season for mock drafts, and Steve Palazzolo’s latest three-round mock draft at Pro Football Focus is one that some Browns fans are going to find a bit displeasing.

Palazzolo starts off with filling the quarterback hole, but not in the way that many draft analysts believe will occur:

"QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma: The nation’s highest-graded quarterback for two straight years, Mayfield’s production has been at another level than his peers and every way the numbers are sliced, he comes out at or near the top. The NFL is more than just college production, but Mayfield has shown well in important areas, including his ability to make “NFL Throws” (as outlined in our QB Annual as part of PFF Edge) as well as his accuracy on tight-window throws, as he had the highest percentage in the class at 52.4 percent. Mayfield’s accuracy and decision-making make him the top signal-caller in the class."

Mayfield may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no questioning his production at Oklahoma. He is a couple of inches shorter than the “ideal” NFL quarterback, but he can make every play at the same level as USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen (and is unquestionably more productive than Wyoming’s Josh Allen). Head coach Hue Jackson also said Mayfield is still in the mix for the Browns, so if he is the pick, it may not be so surprising.

After Darnold and Rosen go off the board at No. 2 and No. 3, to the New York Giants and New York Jets, respectively, Palazzolo makes a big that would be sure to set the Dawg Pound on fire.

With defensive end Bradley Chubb and running back Saquon Barkley there for the taking, Palazzolo has the Browns go in a different direction:

"DI Maurice Hurst, Michigan: After posting the top season we’ve seen from an interior defensive lineman, Hurst should be one of the first defensive players off the board. His excellent first step, pad level and hand usage make him difficult to block both in the run game and as a pass-rusher, all adding up to one of the most disruptive interior defensive linemen to enter the league over the last few years. Add Hurst to the Browns defensive line overhaul and reap the rewards."

The Browns need help along the inside of the defensive line, especially after the surprising trade of defensive tackle Danny Shelton, but passing on Chubb and Barkley, among others, to select Hurst (a Michigan man!) would be sure to raise some questions as the Browns wait for day two and the second round.

Speaking of the second round, the Browns will open the draft’s second day with the first pick and Palazzolo wins back some of the fans by selecting a potential replacement for retired left tackle Joe Thomas:

"T Jamarco Jones, Ohio State: With left tackle Joe Thomas retiring, the Browns match need and value nicely with Jones at the top of the second round. He improved every year at Ohio State, peaking with an 84.9 overall grade last year and a 98.0 pass-blocking efficiency that ranked 14th in the draft class."

For a team that “doesn’t draft” players from Ohio State, selecting Jones would up Dorsey’s “he gets us” credibility with Buckeye fan boys. Jones is not going to be Joe Thomas – but no one will be – and he might need some time to mature, but Jones has enough raw talent that it is not hard to see him having a successful career at the pro level.

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns /

Two selections later, Palazzo has the Browns making another addition to the wide receiver group:

"WR D.J. Moore, Maryland: Moore has playmaking potential both outside and in the slot as he has the speed to make plays down the field and the acceleration to maximize YAC opportunities. He adds a versatile option as the Browns look to revamp their receiving corps."

While the Browns appear set at slot receiver after trading for slot Jarvis Landry, but there are still questions about whether or not Josh Gordon (multiple suspensions) and Corey Coleman (13 missed games in two seasons with a broken hand) can be available for a full 16 games, so Moore adds some solid protection at the position.

The Browns close out the second round with another surprise:

"RB Royce Freeman, Oregon: Freeman had an outstanding career at Oregon, though it peaked in 2015 with one of the better seasons we’ve seen from a running back. He ranked 14th in the draft class with an elusive rating of 76.1 last year."

Freeman was certainly productive at Oregon, rushing for more than 1,300 yards three times in four seasons and finishing with 60 rushing touchdowns and averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

He suffered a knee injury as a junior, which limited his stats, but bounced back as a senior, although the second round may be a bit high for him.

Next: The Browns, QBs and the silly season

The Browns do not have a third-round selection, having traded it to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

So there you go, Browns fans, a three-round mock draft with some surprising selections. What say you?