While there’s a large contingent of Cleveland Browns fans clamoring for the best tackle available, could the right move actually be trading down for Ezra Cleveland?
It’s no secret that the Cleveland Browns are in desperate need of a starting left tackle. While their moves in free agency helped sure up a few weaknesses, including the right tackle with the addition of ex-Titan All-Pro Jack Conklin.
It appears the opposite tackle will have to be addressed via the NFL Draft. The answer may come in the form of Ezra Cleveland.
The Browns currently hold the tenth pick in the draft and most mock drafts have at least one of the consensus top four tackles, Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Jedrick Wills (Alabama), Mekhi Becton (Louisville), and Andrew Thomas (Georgia), falling that far. Some scenarios have two of the four falling to the tenth spot.
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In theory, this means general manager Andrew Berry is in an easy sport. He can simply draft the best available tackle at 10 and move on with his draft board. However, there may be better options that produce multiple starters with one pick.
This, of course, would be the Browns trading out of the tenth spot and moving further back in the draft. This is obviously a risky scenario, especially if Andrew Thomas is still on the board. However, there are a few options available that make it worth considering.
The first option would hinge on Andrew Thomas and another of the top four linemen being on the board. The New York Jets are believed to fancy Thomas and this could prove advantageous for the Browns. The Jets own the eleventh pick and the Browns may be able to swap picks and acquire a mid-round pick as compensation. Give the team’s lack of defensive depth, this could pay major dividends.
If Thomas is not available and a swap with the Jets is not in the cards, there are multiple teams including the Raiders, Broncos, and Dolphins who may have the interest and draft capital to move up. While this involves risk in moving back, the Browns could rank up multiple vital draft picks. This is where Ezra Cleveland comes into play.
The rumors have run rampant of the Browns’interest in the Junior tackle from Boise State. It’s hard to tell presently whether it’s an elaborate smokescreen or general interest. However, what is known is that Cleveland will surely be available in the middle to late picks of round one. Some experts even have Cleveland slipping into Round 2.
With a trade further down into the first round, the Browns could secure the tackle they want and used gain draft picks to trade back into the first round for the likes of LSU linebacker Partick Queen or Iowa edge rusher A.J. Epenesa.
The best part of this scenario is it would likely mean Cleveland would keep their tenth pick in the second round, which is likely to be used for one of several linebacker or safety prospects such as Wyoming’s Logan Wilson or Minnesota safety Antione Winfield, Jr.
While the 2020 NFL Draft seems to have more first-day unknowns than usual, the needs of the Cleveland Browns are anything but. The team has to find their left tackle of the future and upgrade what, on paper, is the thinnest linebacking core in the league. Luckily this year’s draft is plentiful with talented players at each spot.
The Browns need to find a way to grab as many of them as possible in one swoop. This will likely involve some trades that while aren’t the sexy choice now, could pay major dividends in November and December.