I've written quite a few mock drafts for the Browns this year, but I've decided to go with a different approach this time. I don't think any of the QB's are worthy of the #4 pick, I also believe at least 3 of the top 4 will be gone by 26 and I really like the top 3 next year (Mariota, Winston, Hundley). Also, teams don't win with an above average offense and defense. They might make the playoffs, but they don't win the Super Bowl. You either need an elite offense or an elite defense to compete in February. Unfortunately, the Browns have neither of those, so they'll have to choose which one is closer and build on that side of the ball.
As you can see, our defensive needs aren't nearly as long as offensive. So, I've decided the Browns should follow in the footsteps of the 49er's and Seahawk's to build a scary defense, to go along with a great run game.
1.8 Justin Gilbert(Trade-Browns receive Vikings 1st and 2nd round pick for 1st round pick)
I would love this pick right here. It might be a little early for Gilbert, but he's easily the top corner in this draft. With his athletic ability and size, he would immediately improve the secondary. Teams could no longer avoid Joe Haden and Skrine would be able to lock down the slot.
1.26 Ryan Shazier
Shazier fits the same mold as Kiko Alonso. He's extremely athletic, but not quite the prototypical size for a inside linebacker. However, if you look at the production that Pettine got out of Alonso, you could easily see Shazier putting up great numbers in his rookie season.
2.3 Jeremy Hill
Character concerns had many believing Hill would fall to the 3rd or 4th round. However, there have been reports that he's grading out as a late first rounder. Also, it's been reported that he has calmed down any concerns about his character in interviews. Hill is a powerful runner and he's able break away from defenders in the open field.
2.8 Lamarcus Joyner
Joyner is this years Tyrann Mathieu. In this situation, he would be competing with Gipson for the starting free safety role. Joyner has great instincts, but he's not an elite athlete and doesn't have prototypical size for a safety. There are only 4 safeties in this draft who could start from day one in my opinion, so we may have to reach for one in the second round.
3.7 Troy Niklas
I believe the tight ends are going to fall in this draft. If so, Niklas would be a great pick up for the Browns. He's my top tight end, because we don't need a guy who only blocks like Ebron and Amaro. Also, I think he's the better blocker between him and Seferian-Jenkins.
3.19 A.J. McCarron
McCarron is extremely underrated. He's proven he can sit back and let his team win, but also that he can take over a game if the team needs him to. I think he has more arm talent than Hoyer, and he looks more durable as well.
4.6 Brandon Thomas
This pick is about the future. Pinkston should be able to start this year, so Thomas can sit out a year on IR. The Browns have Chris Faulk to compete on the line, so they don't really need someone who can immediately compete.
4.20 Shayne Skov(Browns trade 5th, 6th and 7th round picks for Cardinals 4th)
Like I said before, it takes two inside linebackers. Skov would compete with Shazier for the starting spot. However, this pick is about the future, as Dansby could be done after this year. Also, older players are more susceptible to injury, so Skov and Shazier could both end up starting at some point.
4.27 Jeff Janis-The Browns need a #2 receiver to take some pressure off of Gordon. Burleson is injury prone, and he's over 30. Little has never been able to live up to his draft position. Janis wouldn't have to start immediately, but I could see him being a solid #2 by the end of this year.
Let me know what you think. I doubt the draft unravels this way, but it's different from past mocks I've written.