As free agency comes to an end, all eyes will move to the NFL draft that is just under a month away. What will the Cleveland Browns do with pick 10?
In a previously analytical era where Sashi Brown led the charge as the team’s general manager, fans saw the Cleveland Browns hoard picks and constantly trading back in drafts. While that can be a successful strategy, drafting players like Johnny Manziel, Corey Coleman, and DeShone Kizer you are not set up well for success.
What will be the Browns strategy in 2020 with Andrew Berry leading the charge? Berry has shown already to be far more aggressive than Sashi Brown was in free agency, which will hopefully continue in the draft as well. There will be a tremendous amount of talent at pick 10 to pick from.
The Browns have a gaping hole at left tackle even after the addition of free agent right tack, Jack Conklin. With Chris Hubbard likely to play sixth-man or transition to right-guard, look for the Browns to majorly upgrade at tackle with the 10th pick.
While the prized possession for many Browns fans is Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, it's hard to see him dropping all the way to ten. Simmons has always been highly thought of, and after a crushing combine performance, teams may struggle to pass on him.
The Browns will likely not be willing to part with the assets it would take to move up for the safety/linebacker from the University of Clemson.
Let’s look at the first 10 picks of the NFL draft to see what the Browns end up with.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Joe Burrow appears to be the clear No. 1 this year. With the Cincinnati Bengals ready to move on from Andy Dalton, the national champion from Southern Ohio, Joe Burrow looks to be a sure thing. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner looks to have two matchups per year with Baker Mayfield for the foreseeable future.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
There are a few questions to ask here; are the Washington Redskins satisfied with Dwayne Haskins or Kyle Allen at quarterback? Will Alex Smith ever play football again? And lastly, what position do they see most necessary to upgrade on defense?
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It appears after trading for Allen the Redskins believe they have their quarterback and will draft defensive needs. With the success of Ohio State defensive lineman recently (Bosa brothers), expect this decision will be easy to take Chase Young, the dominant defensive end.
In recent history, rookie pass-rushers have adapted well to the NFL and Young has proven to be a dual-threat setting the edge in the run game and being able to get to the quarterback even when double-teamed.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, DB, Ohio State
The Detroit Lions will be tempted here to trade back with a quarterback hungry team such as the Jacksonville Jaguars or Los Angeles Chargers. The Lions have been active in free agency signing anyone who ever played for the New England Patriots previously with Matt Patricia. While this is a strange strategy, it does show they are trying to win now with Matthew Stafford vs. building for the future.
With the departure of Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles, look for the Lions to draft another lock-down corner in Jeff Okudah from the Ohio State University. Hard to believe the top three picks in this mock all played for the Buckeyes at one point in time, even though Burrow’s success came at LSU.
4. New York Giants: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The New York Giants need help on defense, but with young quarterback Daniel Jones running for his life last year it's easy to see the Giants going offensive tackle. The tackle class in 2020 is as deep and talented as any, and Nate Solder has not quite lived up to his $15.5 million per year salary expectations.
Tristan Wirfs could be the perfect fit for general manager David Gettleman, as he shined at the combine showing his zone-blocking skills that would pair well with star running back Saquon Barkley. Wirfs is most comfortable at right tackle, which is where he would land with the Giants.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
After an aggressive offseason, the Miami Dolphins will likely be looking for their future quarterback in the 2020 draft. After receiving positive medical news on his injured hip before the combine, look for the Dolphins to draft the Alabama mobile quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.
Head coach Brian Flores looks to have the team headed in the right direction if he can find a starting-caliber quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick will win you a few games per year but has never been a consistent starter in the NFL.
Josh Rosen who was originally the 10th pick in 2018 didn’t perform well either in 2019 after being traded to the Dolphins so the Arizona Cardinals could draft Kyler Murray last year. Tagovailoa could be set up for early success with the roster in Miami.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
After striking out in free agency for a quarterback, including the pursuit of Hall of Famer Tom Brady, the Los Angeles Chargers will be after a quarterback with pick number six. After 16 years with Phillip Rivers as the field general, the Chargers find themselves very thin at quarterback with Tyrod Taylor as the best available option.
Look for the Chargers to go with the Oregon Duck product, Just Herbert who came into this draft class as the number one rated player before an up and down 2019 season. A strong combine should have solidified Herbert’s spot in the top ten.
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
The Carolina Panthers will be under a new regime in 2020, and that includes moving on from long time star quarterback Cam Newton. The show must go on with new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who shined in New Orleans with injuries to Drew Breese.
Look for the Panthers to bolster their front line with the Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown. With Chase Young at number two, any team that picks Brown past number four or five is getting a steal. Brown has shown the ability to stop the run and rush the passer from the interior defensive line.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
After the addition of DeAndre Hopkins and keeping Larry Fitzgerald for one more year, second-year quarterback Kyler Murray could shine in the Kliff Kingsbury air raid system in 2020. What better way could the Arizona Cardinals enhance their offense than by adding a massive left tackle?
No one enhanced their draft stock at the combine as much as Mekhi Becton, the 6-foot 7-inch, 364-pound monster showed tremendous athleticism running a 5.1 forty-yard dash. Becton has the highest ceiling of the top four tackles but also is the highest bust risk playing against mediocre talent in the ACC.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
The Jacksonville Jaguars filled a void at linebacker with free agent Joe Schobert signing a massive $50 million deal. However, Isaiah Simmons is likely too talented to pass up if available at number nine. It's unknown if Simmons will play safety or linebacker at the next level, but he has the size and athleticism to play either.
The Jags will be in a bit of re-build mode after the Nick Foles project quickly crashed and burned in 2019. It's wild to think the Jaguars played in the AFC Championship game just three years ago. It could be tempting for the Jaguars to trade back and collect picks, but it would be hard for the Jags to let Simmons pass at this point. Jacksonville could also likely be in the quarterback market, but unless they are willing to trade up they may roll the dice on Gardner Minshew one more year.
10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia
Will the Browns be tempted to trade up for Isaiah Simmons? Hopefully so. But if they do, they better have a solid plan at left tackle as Greg Robinson is out of the picture completely.
There are a few options of tackle later in the first round. However, you would be risking they won’t be ready to start as rookies. It will be costly to move up for Simmons which would also make it challenging to have enough assets to draft a tackle in the early rounds.
If Simmons drops to 10, you turn the card in after three seconds and take him. The Browns can find another veteran like Jason Peters to come in and fix left tackle on a short-term basis. But it's hard to envision Simmons actually falling. Truthfully, this mock draft is based on team needs, but it's not certain the Lions or Giants will be able to pass on the potential of Simmons either, so No, 9 seems like a worst-case scenario for him.
Although Andrew Berry was active and aggressive in free agency, look for him to play the draft conservatively. If Andrew Thomas is available, he's a great value pick at 10. Thomas was a three-year starter for Georgia and was going against top-end talent each week in the SEC.
While Thomas didn’t shine as much as Becton or Wirfs at the combine, he is also athletic and would work well in Kevin Stefanski’s zone scheme. Thomas would come in as the day-one starter at tackle.
If teams do get aggressive and a quarterback like Jordan Love slips in the top ten, don’t be shocked to see the Browns trade back. =The name not even mentioned yet is Jedrick Willis, the tackle from Alabama who some say is the best tackle available.
Should the Browns could move back collecting and additional second or third-round pick, and still land any of the top four tackles (Wirfs, Becton, Thomas or Willis) look for Berry to do so. The Browns may have their favorite, but all four tackles will start as rookies and are more than capable.
While the Browns look to be set on offense other than tackle, depth is a need on the defensive side of the ball. If Cleveland could get an additional second-rounder by trading back, they could draft a linebacker and safety (Antoine Winfield Jr. and Zach Baun as possibilities). The Browns would not need either to start as rookies, but the depth would be of tremendous value.