It is that time of year again where NFL mock drafts are starting to take over the internet. ESPNs Mel Kiper, Jr. just released his mock draft 1.0 earlier this week.
The Cleveland Browns have two picks in the first round, both in the top five. There is a lot of work to be done in the offseason, especially in the draft. Cleveland is in good shape with two in the first round (1, 4) and three in the second round (their own pick, the Philadelphia Eagles pick from a trade in 2016, and the Houston Texans from a trade in 2017). It will be the first big test for new general manager John Dorsey and his staff.
Let’s look at what the Browns should do in April when the draft rolls around.
ROUND 1, PICK 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
This could be an unpopular choice with the first overall pick, where many would want and expect the Browns to draft a quarterback. But Cleveland needs a playmaker on offense, especially with Isaiah Crowell’s time as a Brown likely up and Josh Gordon’s uncertain future. Barkley would be able to step in and help the Browns right from the get go, on offense and perhaps special teams. He is the type of player the Browns need now and that can be an important part of the team’s future.
Barkley is a can’t miss talent that the Browns should not pass up on. Even if it means not selecting a top tier quarterback with the first pick, there are other options to explore for that position.
ROUND 1, PICK 4: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
This is another place where the Browns could take a quarterback early in the draft. With, again, options for quarterbacks, why not take possibly the best player available and at the same time while helping the secondary? Cleveland’s pass defense in 2017 ranked 19th in the NFL. Fitzpatrick will be able to step in at either corner back or safety, with the ability to play both positions very well. A young secondary with him and Jabrill Peppers could be exciting to watch in the years to come.
ROUND 2, PICK 33: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
In the offseason leading up to the 2017 season, the Browns bolstered their offensive line by adding Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter. But there was a setback when Joe Thomas tore his biceps and was announced done for the season. With Thomas getting older and thinking of retirement, an offensive lineman will be needed. Williams will be able to learn from one of the greats and eventually help form a good offensive line.
ROUND 2, PICK 35: Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
With Danny Shelton and the former first overall pick, Myles Garrett, the Browns put together a tough, stout defense against the run, in particular up front. Another addition to that line could wildly help improve on the success Gregg William’s defense had last year against opposing running backs. With Thompson’s ability to get in the backfield and rush the quarterback, their run defense could be one of the best in the league.
ROUND 2, PICK 63: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
With Josh Gordon not being able to stay on the field due to personal issues and with Corey Coleman not being able to stay on the field due to injury, a wide receiver is needed. Cain has the ability to step in and help this inconsistent unit. With the quarterback situation up in the air, his production may be a bit limited, but once that position is nailed down, he can be a very good player in the NFL.