In his first mock draft following the 2018 regular season, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Cleveland Browns upgrading their defense.
The Cleveland Browns young talent on the roster played a huge role in the team’s strong run during the second half of the season.
The young talent was developing at a quicker rate and they were able to make plays all over the field. With the amount of youth and potential on the roster, Cleveland is showing the capability to be contenders in the AFC for the long-term future.
Another off-season of adding quality young talent could push the Browns over the edge and have them competing to win the AFC North next season. Following the 2018 season, the Browns landed the 17th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.
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In his first mock draft following the 2018 regular season, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Cleveland Browns selecting University of Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker. Here is what he said about the defensive back.
"A lockdown cornerback with excellent size and physicality, Baker took home the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back in college football. There are some questions about his ability to run against top-flight NFL wide receivers, which might make him a better fit in a zone scheme, but his film shows enough matchup skills to keep pace with the pros thanks to his technique and length. – Matt Miller"
The senior cornerback played in 12 games for Georgia in 2018, amassing 40 total tackles, including two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, two interceptions, and nine passes defended. The 22-year-old will not be playing in the Sugar Bowl for Georgia, deciding to prepare for the draft instead.
Miller mentioned the Browns needed to find a running mate with Denzel Ward at cornerback. The Browns currently have Terrance Mitchell and T.J. Carrie under contract for next season, with both playing well as starters this season. E.J. Gaines, who also played well as a starting cornerback before placed on injured reserve, is not under contract for next season.
The Browns pass defense was among the worst in the league in 2018. They allowed the eighth most passing yards, giving up an average of 257.7 yards per game. The Browns tied for the third fewest passing touchdowns allowed, as their pass defense would tighten up in the red zone. They also intercepted 17 passes, tied for the fifth most in the league.
The Browns do not have many pressing needs heading into the off-season, which will allow general manager John Dorsey to take a best player available approach heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. Upgrading the defense would not be the worst idea, considering the defense ranked 30th in the NFL in total defense.