Mel Kiper's 2014 NFL Mock Draft for the Browns: Rounds 1-3

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kiper has the Browns going with a quarterback, cornerback, offensive guard, safety, and running back in the first three rounds of his latest mock draft.

ESPN's Mel Kiper has a different way of conducting his mock drafts. This offseason, he has done three traditional mock drafts so far -- ones in which he claims to "project picks" rather than "make them." A couple of days ago, Kiper did a three-round mock draft in which he put his general manager hat on for every team. Here are the ground rules he outlined:

The ground rules

1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won't pass on a player at No. 5 just because I like how he fits better at No. 7. 
2. There are no trades. I note team needs, but not all picks are specifically to hit a need -- same as the draft.
3. This is NOT A PROJECTION. It's more a look at how I currently value players at each slot.

For the first three picks of the draft, he had the Texans taking DE Jadeveon Clowney, the Rams taking WR Sammy Watkins, and the Jaguars taking OLB Khalil Mack. That would give the Browns their pick at quarterback, and if Kiper was the general manager, he'd take Johnny Manziel at No. 4 overall. Here is what Kiper what do for the Browns in rounds 1-3:

Cleveland Browns

Top needs: QB, CB, WR, OL

Round 1 (4) QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Round 1 (26) CB Jason Verrett, TCU (from IND)
Round 2 (35) G Gabe Jackson, Mississippi St.
Round 3 (71) S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
Round 3 (83) RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (from PIT)

Analysis: Here's where I take the plunge at quarterback. For one, while Manziel is a boom-or-bust proposition, he's exactly the type of QB who doesn't give a, um, darn about the bad QB history in Cleveland. In fact, it will just push him. Secondly, I have a bunch of picks in this draft, and I know the entire draft isn't defined by what I do at No. 4. Three, I actually think a guy like Brian Hoyer can start early and win football games. Lastly, my team is going to pass block pretty well, and I have some major weapons on Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron -- the kind of guys who make a QB look good. I get the corner I need in Verrett because I think, unlike most corners, he's pretty capable of helping me right away. Then I get the best guard in the draft with Jackson, solidifying depth on the interior of the line. Reynolds is the range safety I need to pair with Donte Whitner, and Thomas gives me a return element and a low-touches but valuable decoy element in the offense.

Kiper's scenario seems pretty interesting, although it does leave out a wide receiver for Manziel to work with. Would you like it if Cleveland's first three rounds unfolded as Kiper outlined? To see the full round-by-round picks (Insider required), click here.

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