While the Cleveland Browns have yet to hire a new head coach, it’s still never a bad time to look towards April with this 7-round mock draft.
With all NFL head coaching jobs filled except for the Cleveland Browns, teams have started to turn their attention towards free agency and the draft in April. Even though the head coaching position isn’t filled, however, doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to still look at potential players the team may draft when that role is filled.
While several candidates are off the board, the big fish the Browns wanted from the start are still there in Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
Both are highly regarded around the league for their play-calling and are seen in great light to take the lead of an NFL franchise and have success doing it wherever they go. With Cleveland as the only head coaching job left open, one will have to wait another year for their opportunity.
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The head coach that’s hired, whether it’s McDaniels, Stefanski, or a dark horse candidate, will have a big impact on not only the roster, but also the front office. The Browns want the head coach to have a hand in picking the next general manager as well.
That decision may have been puzzling a decade ago, but more and more teams have employed this form of structure as of late. It’s great for everyone, as there should be no squabbles about personnel or scheme if the two are on the same page from day one.
With or without a coach, however, the Cleveland Browns have several holes to fill this offseason on their roster. The holes won’t change whether they have a coach or not though, so let’s take a look at this 7-round mock draft to see how the Browns try to fill the holes in the roster while the Haslam’s work to fill the hole in the coaching staff.
With their first round pick, the Cleveland Browns finally fill a void that has long been their weakness. Well, ever since future Hall of Fame tackle Joe Thomas retired, that is.
The offensive line is the biggest hole on the Cleveland Browns roster, especially the two tackle positions. While former general manager John Dorsey was trading depth and draft capital for splashy (albeit talented) players such as Odell Beckham Jr, he failed to provide quality players to protect his young quarterback on the offensive front. Not to say that all of Baker Mayfield's struggles in 2019 were due to poor line play, but that certainly didn't help anything, as he was sacked 40 times this season.
Tristan Wirfs can be the next great Cleveland Browns offensive tackle. He has everything you look for in a starting tackle - great balance, impressive reach, and extremely powerful in both run and pass blocking sets. Wirfs has strong legs too, and once he engages a defender, he can follow through and hold his block, as well as push the defender aside when needed to open lanes for the running backs to follow.
The big if with Wirfs at the moment, however, is if he will declare. As a junior, he could still likely return to school for his senior season. But as a potential top-10 pick in the NFL, it's hard to pass up the opportunity to leave early. If he does, and he lasts until the 10th pick, Cleveland's new staff would be doing backflips as they turn the draft card into the Commissioner.
Justin Madubuike is a prospect that many are saying could climb up draft boards as the process goes on. With a strong performance at the Combine and in team workouts, Madubuike could be someone who a lot of teams covet. The Browns scoop him up here early in the second round to help bolster their defensive line.
Madubuike stands at 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, and he uses every bit of his size to jump into the gaps that are there. He always seems to time his jump excellently and can get out of his stance quickly. Perhaps the best thing about Madubuike is his versatility, as he played just about every defensive line position as an Aggie. That's a good thing for Cleveland, who could not only use him on the interior of their defensive line, but use his abilities at every position up front as well.
Madubuike would be a very good addition to the Browns defensive front, a unit that overall struggled at times this past season. While Sheldon Richardson broke out and showed his contract was worth it, Larry Ogunjobi struggled for most of the season. He would also be a great addition to a position that lacks any sort of depth, as John Dorsey again opted to go with top-line talent over overall depth.
Brandon Jones was a highly recruited player coming out of college, and made an early impact in his freshman season in Austin. Three years later, the senior is drafted by the Cleveland Browns with their first of two picks in the third round.
Jones is built exactly how you want your safety to be built. He's got the speed you look for, the football I.Q. to read and make plays, and loves to hit people in the mouth. When Jones hits you, you feel it a few plays later.
Best suited as a run-support safety, Jones can make an impact by coming up and making the tackle or blitzing and taking the quarterback down behind the line of scrimmage. His biggest downfall, however, is his lack of coverage skills. Jones may be best suited playing close to the line in a zone scheme, as he struggles to play the ball on deeper passes.
Given time, Jones could develop into a really good all around safety. His run defense skills are what make him worth the third round selection here, and given proper coaching, his pass defense skills can improve.
With the Browns in desperate need of a quality safety, as Damarious Randall leaves town and question marks surround the other safeties on the roster, Brandon Jones is a quality pick that would help the Browns defense just by being on the field with his high knowledge about the game of football.
Did we mention how bad the Browns offensive line was, and how John Dorsey neglected to address this position the past two seasons? Even with the pick of Wirfs in the first round, the Browns go with another offensive tackle in the third to avoid making the same mistake for a third year in a row, this time with a guy who we have mocked to the Browns before in Calvin Throckmorton.
Throckmorton has the size and strength to play multiple positions, whether it be outside at tackle or inside at guard. He's able to hit defenders hard and make his presence known, but also has good mobility and can move up to the second level to take on linebackers and clear the way for his running backs. He can struggle at times with his balance, and sometimes his footwork lets him get beat by guys that get a quick jump into the gap, but overall, he makes up for it with his intelligence and ability to find guys rushing late and picking up the blitz.
Throckmorton would best be suited on the right side of the line, be it at right tackle or right guard. With Wirfs taking over at left tackle, that leaves him to replace Chris Hubbard at right tackle, who was one of the lowest rated tackles in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus.
While the addition of Throckmorton won't solve all the issues up front for the Cleveland Browns, it does fill a rather large hole, and the team can begin looking at other quality players to provide depth in 2020 and beyond.
With their fourth round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Browns select Bradlee Anae out of Utah, a strong edge rusher to continue to bolster that defensive line and provide further depth in a position of need.
Anae is an edge rusher who can play from a down position or from a standing position. He's equally impressive in both rushing the passer and stopping the run, and he can use his quickness to sneak into gaps after a quick move to wreak havoc in the backfield, something he did quite often at Utah.
He also possesses a good understanding of the game, as well as his abilities. While he has a quick first step, he isn't the quickest on the field, so often he uses his high motor and hustle to make plays when they need to be made.
Anae is a great fit for Cleveland because he not only works hard to overcome his lack of elite athleticism, but that energy is contagious. Anae could be a team leader very early on, even while possibly playing in a limited role for his first few seasons.
Playing behind Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon would also help him to become a better player on the field as well. He would not only get to learn from two of the more talented edge rushers in the NFL, but he would get to play alongside them at least a fair amount of time, as the depth at the EDGE position for Cleveland is pretty bare behind those two. If Anae lands in Cleveland, Browns fans will soon fall in love with the work ethic he brings along with him.
The later in the draft you get, the more you look for depth or guys that can prove to be diamonds in the rough down the road. The Browns hope they have found their diamond, as they take tight end Mitchell Wilcox in the sixth round of this mock draft.
Mitchell Wilcox is a smaller tight end who more closely resembles a wide receiver at the NFL level. He's extremely versatile, and lined up all over the field in college, be it in the slot, in tight on the line, and even in the backfield on some plays. While he's not the most explosive guy and won't beat anyone deep, he's usually able to find holes in the middle of the field and provide his quarterback with a quality target out there when needed.
The weakness of Wilcox's game is definitely his blocking, as his size doesn't allow him to provide good protection when left inside. A good coach, however, won't ask him to do that often, and instead will utilize his route running skills and soft hands to help Baker Mayfield in the passing game.
Wilcox would provide Mayfield with another solid weapon in the passing game, alongside Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. With David Njoku's nearly constant injury-list appearance, Wilcox could provide some depth to that position, while also being a contributor very early on in his NFL career. For a sixth round pick, that's more than you can ask for.
With their final pick in this 2020 mock draft, the Cleveland Browns select Naquan Jones out of Michigan State, a big and physical interior defensive lineman.
You're probably thinking, another interior defender? Another defensive lineman? Yes, and here's why. When in the final week of the season you're seeing guys like Porter Gustin, Justin Zimmer, and Eli Ankou receive extended playing time, you know you're in need of help. Naquan Jones, if nothing else, provides quality depth to a position of great need.
While Jones never saw consistent playing time in his time at Michigan State, when he did see the field, he was probably the strongest player on it at any given time. He's able to push into the backfield on both pass and run plays, and while he doesn't get many tackles, is able to make a mess in the backfield and slow down everyone, allowing his fellow defenders to rally to the make the stop.
If Jones can work on combining his strength and get a signature move, whether it be a spin or a stunt to get by offensive linemen, he could be a good rotational piece for the Browns in the future. While he'll likely never supplant either Ogunjobi or Richardson for their starting spots, coming in on rushing downs from time to time could provide Jones with some chances to learn on the job. That sort of thing will be key if the Browns hope to make Jones a long-term addition to their roster.