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Reviewing the top Senior Bowl players round-by-round for the Browns

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After attending the Senior Bowl, Barry Shuck gives an early assessment of how he thinks the senior prospects could align with the Browns’ draft, round-by-round.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Senior Bowl week has concluded and everyone is back to their normal lifestyles. The scores of coaches and scouts that had descended upon Mobile, Alabama certainly got an eyeful last week on over a hundred draft hopefuls.

Here at DBN, we don’t wonder where an athlete will be drafted, we want to know something different: Which players would be a good fit for the Browns specifically in each round?

Round 1

There will be several players who participated in the game that will become first round draft picks. One certainty is TE O.J. Howard (6’6”, 250) of Alabama. However, he is projected to be taken in the high 20’s. The Browns have the first overall pick and also the 12th selection. Hue Jackson, who spent a solid week with Howard with the South squad, loves this kid and realizes he is a complete player from a big-time program. It would seem to be quite a reach at number 12, but perhaps the Browns can trade back and still get their tight end of the future.

Round 2

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-South Practice
South squad offensive tackle Antonio Garcia of Troy (53) battles defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon of Villanova (92) in a blocking drill during Senior Bowl practice.
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns again have two selections with number one and pick 20. The offensive line is one of the league’s youngest and should be together for quite some time. Antonio Garcia (6’7”, 300) of Troy is an excellent run blocker and can play both positions on the right side. This would allow new offensive line coach Bob Wylie the option of moving current RT Austin Pasztor to guard or stay put with a new linemate with the first pick in this round.

Later, with the 20th selection, safety Justin Evans (6’1”, 195) of Texas A&M is a perfect fit as the Browns are in desperate need for a hard-hitting safety. Evans notched 165 tackles his final two seasons in one of college football’s stiffest conferences. He is a player who is not afraid to take on bigger bodies and had four interceptions his senior season.

Round 3

Again, the Browns have the number one selection and should take Alabama LB/Edge Ryan Anderson (6’2”, 253). An excellent speed rusher off the edge for another pass rusher for the Browns defense that ranked 31st in total defense and 30th in sacks. Anderson netted 16 tackles for loss this past season along with eight sacks plus a pick-six.

Round 4

With the first pick in the fourth round, Cleveland would be satisfied with WR Cooper Kupp (6’2”, 205) of Eastern Washington. Having played at a little known FBS school did not stop Kupp with accumulating 6,464 career yards and 73 TDs as a four-year starter. He can play outside on either side or the slot. This kid catches literally everything thrown his way with excellent hands with sensational route running. Great character guy.

Round 5

In addition to the top pick in this round, the Browns also have the 32nd and last selection. Coupled with the first pick in the sixth, Cleveland will have two choices back-to-back. With the first selection in this round, look for Davis Webb (6’5”, 230) QB – California. Webb has a very strong arm with nice height. He is a leader, but ran Cal’s offense strictly out of a shotgun formation so he has no huddle command nor working under center experience. His footwork is a bit slow as well, but completed 62% of his throws the past two seasons. Coach Jackson spent all week at the Senior Bowl with Webb and loves this kid. He is someone that can be brought along slowly.

With the other fifth round pick, maybe Auburn SS Jonathan Ford (5’11”, 205). A solid player who would provide much needed depth at a position that was horrible last year. Can be plugged in immediately at the nickel. A former running back, he has the speed to get in position to make the tackle or cover the receiver. Ford, along with Evans, would suddenly solidify a unit in a pass-happy division.

Round 6

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-South Practice
South squad inside linebacker Ben Boulware of Clemson (10) knocks a pass away from running back Donnel Pumphrey of San Diego State (19) during practice.
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Draft sites have this guy listed all over the place, but one thing is for certain: he is a hitter. With the first pick in round six an excellent choice would be LB Ben Boulware (6’0”, 235) of Clemson. Everything about this kid says no, until he hits somebody. A tackling machine. While the knock on him is his size, he has the zest and speed to make the tackle or cover bigger tight ends. The tackling on the Browns’ defense has been atrocious. This pick would change all that.

Round 7

No pick

Look over the list one more time and you will see something very important: a lot of the most important problematic areas are solved. No, this list does not answer all of the position problems. But also consider that in round one, there are two players that the Browns will draft not covered on this list; like a stud defensive end like Myles Garrett of Texas A&M or Alabama’s Jonathan Allen.

And with the 12th pick, quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson could be sitting there, or perhaps take an Alabama duo of either LB Reuben Foster or CB Marlon Humphrey. Any of these would certainly change which direction the Browns will go in the later rounds. But for now, any of these Senior Bowl contributors would advance Cleveland and help Coach Jackson’s aspirations of a competitive 2017 become a reality.