Browns look for franchise-altering players in draft


Courtesy of Observer Archives

The Cleveland Browns currently have two of the top-five draft picks. They need offensive weapons to rebound from their 0-16 season.

The 2018 NFL draft begins April 26, and the Cleveland Browns are in an enviable position. After suffering through an 0-16 season, the Browns will have the first overall pick along with the fourth overall pick, opening a realm of possibilities for what the team could do to secure their future.

It is of no surprise to anyone that the Browns need to find a long term solution at quarterback. Former starting quarterback DeShone Kizer proved that he was not going to be the long term option in Cleveland after struggling immensely last season, and losing the starting job over the course of the season. Tyrod Taylor, currently slated to be the Browns starting quarterback, will be Cleveland’s 29th starting quarterback since 1999. The good news is that there are plenty of quarterbacks in this year’s draft, with the talent to go top five.

The Browns will likely pick their quarterback with the first overall pick, leaving nothing to chance. While former University of Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold has been a fan favorite, ESPN reported that the Browns are seriously considering taking former University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick.

This seems like the wrong move for two reasons. First and foremost, the Browns do not need another undersized, Heisman trophy-winning quarterback who has had a history of on- and off-the-field problems. Where is Johnny Manziel, again? The second reason they should not take Mayfield first overall is because of the decent chance he could still be on the board with the fourth overall pick.

Regardless, I don’t think Mayfield is worth the trouble; Darnold is a more polished quarterback who won’t give you trouble off the field. The Browns have one chance to reverse the direction of the organization and start playing winning football again, and they don’t want to mess it up.

Another major area of need for the Browns is in their secondary. With their fourth overall pick, it is possible the team could take Ohio State University cornerback Denzel Ward. Ward is widely considered the best overall cornerback in the draft and would be an immediate fill in for the team.

Despite the Browns having two top-five picks in the first round, they will also have three second round draft picks as well. While the team could generally see an improvement across their ranks, one area of concern would be the offensive line. Due to the high volume of quarterbacks who will likely go in the first round, there will still be great talent in rounds two and three. With the retirement of offensive tackle Joe Thomas, a fixture on the offensive line for years, the team could very well pick someone up in round two with all of their picks.

It is also possible that after the Browns secure their quarterback first overall, they could trade their fourth overall pick to get more picks in the second and third rounds, presumably along with a later first round pick. In this case, they would likely not go for Ward, as he will likely be off the board early. A last major consideration for the Browns would be to draft Pennsylvania State University running back Saquon Barkley, widely considered to be the best overall player in the draft and the least likely draft bust. Barkley may also be available at the fourth overall pick. Critics of this method point out that running backs could be taken in the later rounds and still be productive. Either way, the team has a lot to think about.

The Browns have a chance to catapult their team to relevance in one draft. While they have plenty of routes they could take, first and foremost, they need to draft a quarterback who will be the future of their organization for the next decade. All other problems could be addressed later on. It will be exciting to see what they do this year.


Fact Box:

Browns first round picks since last playoff appearance in 2002

2002: William Green, RB

2003: Jeff Faine, C

2004: Kellen Winslow II, TE

2005: Braylon Edwards, WR

2006: Kamerion Wimbley, LB

2007: Joe Thomas, OT and Brady Quinn, QB

2008: None

2009: Alex Mack, C

2010: Joe Haden, CB

2011: Phil Taylor, DT

2012: Trent Richardson, RB and Brandon Weeden, QB

2013: Barkevious Mingo, OLB

2014: Justin Gilbert, CB and Johnny Manziel, QB

2015: Danny Shelton, DT and Cameron Erving, C

2016: Corey Coleman, WR

2017: Myles Garrett, DE, Jabrill Peppers, DB and David Njoku, TE