Cleveland Browns draft three players in PFF top-25 big board

The Cleveland Browns have heard good reviews about their draft class, especially from Pro Football Focus.

If you like Pro Football Focus, you should be ecstatic because general manager Andrew Berry and the Cleveland Browns front office drafted three of the top-25 players on the PFF draft board, headed by Jedrick Wills, selected No. 10 overall and ranked by PFF at No. 11. They had Andrew Thomas and Tristan Wirfs rated ahead of Wills, but all three were very close and very high.

Also scoring highly were safety Grant Delpit (ranked 15th, taken 44th) and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (ranked 23rd and takenn 88th). Delpit ranked very high in pass coverage, but was not a good tackler. That might improve with technique, but on the other hand it sounds like nickel back might be a good place for him to get some playing time.

PFF also has high praise for Jordan Elliott, whose 91.1 pass-rush grade was first in the FBS among defensive linemen, and his 18.3 percent win rate versus blockers ranked third. The only real complaint PFF had been that he had only one big year (2019) and prior to that he had been good but not great.

What PFF is saying via their ranking system is that they believe the Browns drafted three players that belonged in the first round. Not only that, but each player fills a position of need. If PFF is right, or close to it, this should be a fun year.

Nick Harris was another excellent value pick. They picked him up in the fifth round, and PFF says he should have been selected in the third round (93). Some of the pundits are viewing this as part of a long-range plan to replace J.C. Tretter, but it remains a value pick. The Browns already have options behind Tretter in Chris Hubbard and Drew Forbes. The Browns just felt they were getting a good ballplayer at this position, and PFF agrees in this instance.

PFF was mildly impressed by Donovan Peoples-Jones, who was one of those workout monsters with a great vertical leap, but only mediocre performance on the field for That Team Up North. He turned in a 4.48 second 40-yard dash, which is great, but what really made people’s eyes bulge out of their heads was a 44.5-inch vertical leap, tops at this year’s Combine. His broad jump of 11 feet seven inches was also No. 1 in this year’s class.

In two cases the Browns overdrafted, by PFF’s estimation. Linebacker Jacob Phillips was ranked No. 184, or a sixth round pick, which was the lowest of all Browns draft picks. How in the world can anyone justify grading the SEC tackles leader as a sixth round pick? The short answer is that PFF hated his work in pass coverage. According to PFF, in 2018-19, Phillips produced a combined coverage grade that ranked 160th of 207 qualifying linebackers. Essentially, this screams buyer beware.

Similarly, they took Harrison Bryant in the fourth round, even though they were not really dying to have another tight end with Austin Hooper, Stephen Carlson, Pharaoh Brown and David Njoku already under contract, not to mention two fullbacks in Andy Janovich and Johnny Stanton. The buzz on Bryant is that he is a good pass catcher, but not a great blocker. Yet the Browns have had good pass catchers in recent years, but have lacked a bone crusher at tight end. It would have been a better fit to find a tight end capable of pancaking linebackers for Nick Chubb.

In that sense, Harrison Bryant and Donovan Peoples-Jones were the picks that were a bit off script. Recently, this fan offered the opinion that the Browns would be well served to go for a late round pick who can catch the ball even if he is not that fast. The reason is that Baker Mayfield has the ability to throw the ball into a tight window, so blazing speed is not a total necessity to play wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns.

On the other hand, by the time the fifth or sixth round rolls around, the general manager pretty much has to admit that all of the sure-fire blue chip prospects are gone, and he has to be open to some square pegs to force fit into some round holes.

Next: 3 prospects to watch for in the 2021 Draft

PFF Rank  Selection

  • No. 11       No. 10       Jedrick Wills, Offensive Tackle, Alabama, SEC
  • No. 15       No. 44       Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU, SEC
  • No. 23       No. 88       Jordan Elliott, Defensive Tackle, Missouri, SEC
  • No. 184    No. 97       Jacob Phillips, Linebacker, LSU, SEC
  • No. 147    No. 115    Harrison Bryant, Tight End, FAU, Conference USA
  • No. 93      No. 160     Nick Harris, Center, Washington, Pac-12
  • No. 159    No. 187    Donovan Peoples-Jones, Wide Receiver  TSUN, Big 10