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Cleveland Browns 2018 NFL Draft Preview Roundtable

Our analysts discuss every draft-related topic related to the Cleveland Browns leading up to Thursday.

To help preview the Cleveland BrownsNFL Draft every year, the staff here at Dawgs By Nature puts together a collection of big boards and mock drafts. For the third year in a row, we also present to you a roundtable discussion covering as many draft-related topics as possible within a short period of time.

The participants include myself, Matt Wood, rufio, Josh Finney, Andrea Hangst, Dan Lalich, Mike Hoag, and Ezweav. I also doubled as the moderator for the majority of the questions, so the tone of most questions are coming from my perspective.

Q (Chris): “For the second year in a row, the Browns have the Number 1 overall pick. If Cleveland stays at No. 1 overall, is everyone here in agreement that we have to pick a quarterback, no matter what? And if so, who is your heart set on and why?”

Matt Wood: “Yes, it has to be a quarterback. It should have been one last year but that debate has been beaten to death. If I was making the pick I would take Mayfield. I think his biggest knock is size and it is only a few inches. Today’s NFL quarterbacks need to be able to move which somewhat negates the size issue. I think he is a leader and was easily the best college football player I saw this year and has a real argument as the best college quarterback ever. But I would also be happy with Darnold, Jackson or Rosen. I want nothing to do with Allen.”

rufio: “Yes, we have to pick a quarterback at one. We’ve messed around enough with every other method of finding a quarterback and it is time to just take the best guy in the draft. We need to commit to a guy for several years, why not take a guy who is good enough to be selected first overall? The research is mixed on this, but I believe selecting a guy that high would have a causal effect in his success: the organization would support him more and he’d have a longer leash than, say, a talented second round pick.

If I were making the pick from my couch, I’d take Mayfield. Based on actual play in games, he’s been the best. He’s played a lot, and he’s won, which both loosely correlate to NFL success. Those are also traits ‘football guys’ love (Bill Parcells, for instance). Baker has plenty of arm, and he is the most consistently accurate passer of the first rounders in this draft. What most casual fans and most media analysts don’t see, however, are the non-throwing quarterback skills that he has. As was the case for Deshaun Watson and his offense last year, Baker does not get enough credit for the amount of reads he has to make in his offense. He also doesn’t get enough credit for what he enabled his coach to install. I’ll try to save the 5000 word essay, but you simply can’t do what OU did without a quarterback who understands the entire game and studies it relentlessly. He has the best grasp of defensive coverages and pass protection schemes and is the best at reading things on the fly, and I am not sure that it is particularly close.”

Mike Hoag: “The first pick has to be a quarterback. Cleveland didn’t endure all of that pain and suffering of its 1-31 existence over the last two seasons to take a running back at the top of the draft, only to take its second or third choice at the game’s most important position. There are two quarterbacks who I would select at No. 1, but there are only two that I believe are in play. The two are not necessarily the same.

When watching film this year I really took my time, by choice and by some schedule restrictions. I started out very high on Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen, lukewarm on Sam Darnold, and extremely low on Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. I focused pretty exclusively on those five, but did minor work on Luke Falk and Mason Rudolph. I don’t see either of those two as first rounders, so I moved on pretty quickly.

There’s probably a difference between what I would do as general manager, and what I think John Dorsey will do, but I’m not enamored with any of them enough to pound the table for one of them. While that may seem to contradict my strong stance on selecting a quarterback, it doesn’t, it only means I would be pretty content with two of them, and mildly OK with another. I’ll start with the the two quarterbacks I would not like to see taken by the Browns: Rosen and Jackson. I prefer Mayfield and Allen, and am still lukewarm on Darnold.

One last thing about the most controversial prospect of the group. Allen appears to have much more favor in NFL circles than people realize. Everything I have heard from people working in the evaluation industry has been positive about him as a person, prospect and teammate. The hype doesn’t come solely from his arm strength, either, which by the way is a generational quality trait that will be the gold standard the day he enters the NFL. Quarterbacks trainer Ryan Flaherty, who trained Allen and Darnold for the combine, said he has the best arm he has ever seen. You look solely at his stats, then maybe a couple of poor throws, and you would and should become highly skeptical. But those struggles don’t match up when watching the throws, which are generally on target, and he misses badly—as you commonly hear—very rarely.

The actual concerning issues around his game are his mechanical lapses that cause some of his incompletions, and his questionable understanding of defensive concepts. However, both of those problems are fixable, and nearly every quarterback entering the NFL is ill-equipped to deal with the plethora of schemes that coordinators will use to deceive them. Allen will have the benefit of sitting and learning, being coached while working to understand those concepts and refine his skills. There is no rush in Cleveland, because Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton will play before whoever the team drafts sees the field. The luxury that patience affords has to be a big factor in this selection. Instead of taking a prospect the organization feels is ready to play immediately at a moderate to high level, it can project farther down the line to acquire the best long-term prospect. You can argue that’s not a prudent use of the No. 1 pick, but I think there’s no better use than finding the best long-term quarterback. Allen’s astronomical ceiling may end up being too enticing to avoid on draft day.

Will Dorsey agree and defy the data, favoring Allen’s raw ability, size, mobility, and howitzer arm? I think the answer is yes, and while I’m still hesitant, I’m more open to that idea than I think a lot of other people.

That said, I believe Dorsey is choosing between Allen and Darnold, but I’d like to see Mayfield in that conversation as well.”

Matt Wood: “I should mention that if Dorsey picks Allen, we are screwed. There is no way that a professional football general manger should look at the whole picture of Josh Allen and think he is worth the first pick.”

Mike Hoag: “It’s for sure questionable, and would not be a popular decision, but I don’t think it’s as dramatic as that, Matt.”

Dan Lalich: “I’m comfortable with any of the big prospects outside of Allen. When we start talking about ‘fixing’ a bad quarterback, specifically in a skill that’s arguably the most important to the position, that just screams ‘stay away.’ Mike is right that every prospect will have some work to do on the mental side of the game in the NFL.

The fact that Allen couldn’t even keep up in that regard in college should tell you all you need to know about his ability to do it in the NFL. He really doesn’t do anything well outside of throwing hard. He’s the perfect example of a guy who NFL evaluators will see as a ‘great talent’ that they can mold into a good football player. I would rather take someone who is already a good football player instead of someone who will start out at a disadvantage. I don’t want to take the quarterback equivalent of Trent Richardson, Barkevious Mingo, or Jabrill Peppers. I would also say that if whatever quarterback we pick is kept on the bench by Drew Stanton then we clearly screwed up.”

Josh Finney: “I’m solidly 100% with Wood on most of his 2018 takes. Trust me, I find that concept as surprising (and disappointing) as the rest of you.

I can talk myself into any of the top four quarterbacks. Pick your guy, go get him at one. I did not suffer one win in two years to get my first choice in a quarterback-rich draft to waste it on Josh Allen, aka Poor man’s Deshone Kizer (inaccurate quarterbacks don’t become accurate in the NFL). I’m living in fear of Thursday, which could be my last before an extended Browns vacation.

And Tyrod Taylor, who I’ve been an enormously vocal proponent of since day one, shouldn’t change your draft strategy. He should provide the flexibility for the org to take whomever, regardless of development, and can play for as long as needed at an acceptable level (provided Hue isn’t calling the plays; if he is, it doesn’t truly matter who’s in there).”

Andrea Hangst: “I think the Browns would be foolish to go in any direction other than quarterback at No. 1 overall. It’s the most important position in football and the one the Browns have yet to get right; waiting until No. 4 to hope to get their top choice is a risky maneuver that could backfire. When you need a quarterback and have the chance to get the one you want more than any others, then there’s simply no other option but to get The Guy. For me, it looks like Sam Darnold will be the pick. I like his upside, especially if Hue Jackson really believes that Tyrod Taylor will remain atop the depth chart for the entirety of the season. I personally believe Lamar Jackson will prove to be the top quarterback from this draft class, but don’t see the Browns pulling the trigger on him with the first pick in the draft.

I am comfortable with any of the top quarterback prospects at No. 1 except for Allen, for reasons you all have expressed. Arm talent means nothing to me without pro-ready accuracy and Allen lacks the latter and he’ll likely never have it. Even if Tyrod starts the whole year and the rookie sits, Allen won’t be ready in 2019 and I believe the others will be.”

Ezweav: “I would say the answer to the first question is 100% yes, and probably for the same reasons everyone else thinks. However I think there’s another reason that essentially guarantees it happens: John Dorsey. Trading the pick, rightly or wrongly, would be viewed as a ‘Sashi-Move.’ Well, they didn’t just fire and subsequently blame Sashi Brown (for everything) just so that the new guy can come in and pull a move that Sashi could have done and given each’s respective trade records, probably much better. Nope, Dorsey was billed as THE talent eval man, so he’s making the pick at 1, and of course we should absolutely be doing that anyway.

And firmly, without any hesitation or hint of doubt, my heart (and head) is for the pick to be Baker Mayfield. I really mean when I say this is my guy, 100%. He does everything you want on the field, but the bigger reason why he’s the guy we should take is because of the attitude that’s going to be required by whoever it is that’s eventually (assuming it ever happens) turns around this team. I’m not convinced that any of the other guys won’t get buried by all the negativity inherent with this tortured franchise. It’s an unfortunate reality that we have to consider this, but it’s the reality nonetheless.”

Chris Pokorny: “I’m still in for Sam Darnold. It’s the pick I made in the SB Nation Writer’s Mock Draft, and I feel like he’s the safest bet to be an above average NFL quarterback. I wish I could feel confident in one particular quarterback as my guy who I’m behind 100%, but I don’t. That doesn’t mean I feel these guys aren’t worthy of the No. 1 overall pick -- I’ve mentally made excuses for the Browns’ quarterback position for far too long, so I am all-in on taking a quarterback with the first pick, regardless of whether they are the best available player or not. Still having the No. 4 overall pick in our back pocket helps with that level of comfort.”

Dan Lalich: “As far as who I think the pick will be, I think it’s Darnold. He probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’m fine with it. I’m far more interested in what will happen with the fourth pick. I have no idea who they should pick there, and I think a trade down is fairly likely.”

rufio: “Dan, I’d love a trade down from 4. If we stand pat I think I like Chubb the most, followed by Ward and Barkley. But if we can trade into next year’s first round at the very least, I’d listen to trade offers.”

Matt Wood: “I know my comments on Dorsey/Allen seem a little ‘sky is falling’ but if you have your choice of all the players in the draft and your evaluations lead you to Allen, then you are broken. I don’t like the idea of a trade down UNLESS it includes a one next season and a high pick this season. I don’t think there is a lot of high end talent at the right positions for the Browns. Plus I think QB’s go 1-2-3 so the Nrowns can get a QB and the top position player. That’s pretty unique. I don’t trade down.”

Josh Finney: “I don’t think it’s sky-is-falling at all. I think even the chance that they’re seriously considering it, if true, is enormously disconcerting. At some point, fans aren’t going to be into the team making the same mistakes.

As far as pick 4 goes, there’s not a huge amount of guys I NEED to have there. Some I definitely prefer, but If they managed to bilk Buffalo out of 12/22/more, there’s still really good players available there. That said, 5 picks in the top 65. You don’t need more talent, you need day one impact guys.”

rufio: “Matt, I am with you. Mike, I agree that Allen’s arm is maybe the strongest I’ve ever seen. From a purely physical standpoint, it is insane. I’d put him right up there with Favre and Jamarcus.

With that said, Allen is so incredibly bad at quarterbacking. I am sure he is a great kid who would give it his all, but sometimes a guy just isn’t wired for this. All of those incompletions that miss by 20 yards are not mechanical issues or inaccuracies, I am 95%+ sure that they are on-the-fly coverage reads that Allen just simply does not make well. Allen is going to be able to get away with some mechanical “flaws” that he can get away with because his arm is so crazy. I don’t think you want to completely kill that. But in his offense the WR’s route is something like “head vertical, at 12 yards either curl up if you can’t get by the DB or head down the seam on a skinny post if you can run by him” and Allen just can’t even read the defense as well as his WRs can--I am very confident in this because I’ve never seen a guy miss that badly. Add in the blitzes he completely misses and the lack of a ‘clock in his head’ type of feel for the pass rush, and you are asking Allen to develop a LOT of skills that he is very, very bad at currently, and he is going to have to move up 2 or 3 levels of competition (and playing speed).

A year of riding the bench isn’t enough time for me to see him making that kind of leap. Some guys don’t make it after playing the position their entire careers.

I know there has been lots of media buzz about Darnold, but I mocked Baker to us because I don’t think what we are hearing in the media is from Dorsey. The comments our front office made on Baker before they were hired and the fact that Dorsey had been to see him so many times make me think he’s our guy. I think the talking heads and media people just see Darnold as the best QB and they see our need and they connect the dots.”

Mike Hoag: “I think a lot of people see the 56% number and immediately turn themselves away from Allen, which I did initially. I’m not saying the numbers are fully excusable, and I’m not fully blaming them on drops either. I think there’s a genuine problem in relying on that number as an exclusive indicator of success, though. I’ve charted more than a few of his games and found the ‘blame’ for incompletions is often not because of his placement or timing, but rather game situations (throwaways or pressures) and breakups and drops.

He’s not ready to play, and I personally probably wouldn’t put my livelihood in his hands. But there is a conversation happening similar to this inside their draft room, and it’s an important one to have because of that.”

Josh Finney: “You’re making a bold assumption that we’re going on that number, or that the number is from one outlying year. (It’s not) Rosen and Lamar both had far more drops from their WR corps. Agree to disagree. There’s not a single way that he was victimized more than his supporting cast or did one thing better than the other four guys, in my opinion.”

Mike Hoag: “I’m only replying to the comments I’ve seen so far and most are referencing accuracy. I also said I’m not blaming the number on drops. I don’t see a 56% passer when charting his games, or a terribly inaccurate passer as people are saying, so I’m assuming that number is playing a big part in their reasoning, that’s all. And not doing things better than the others in college isn’t something I’m worried about. I’m trying to figure out where these guys will be in 2019 and beyond, not 2016-17.

Also, it probably really sounds like I’m advocating for Allen to be the pick. I’m not. Just trying to understand the process, and I think I’d be less upset about it after considering everything.”

Josh Finney: “Hey man, I’m truly (no sarcasm) happy that you’ve found peace with it. Not only can I not I see it, but I don’t think the Browns, in ANY regard, can afford to commit to a multi year project that flies in the face of the analytics. I also can’t deal with the way so many of the problems with Allen line up exactly with those from Kizer. I won’t be able to get there.”

rufio: “Regarding ‘not seeing a 56% passer when charting his games,’ I say that you are what you are. Why take the guy you need to make excuses for or defend when you can just take a better guy?”

Robo Dawg: “So I think the Browns do need to choose a QB as the #1 pick in the draft; the Browns need a QB that they can call their starter not just tomorrow, but for a generation. Tyrod Taylor may the starter this year, and even next year… but there is very little evidence to say that he can be a starter leading the Browns deep into the playoffs for 5 – 10 years forward. The chance to get a 22 (ish) year old guy who has the potential to lead the franchise for 15 years is extraordinarily appealing. The problem is, which of the QBs this year will turn into that franchise QB.

It’s clear below above that few really like Allen, and you can count me among that group. Josh Allen seems to me to having the makings of the next Blake Bortles (or Flacco)– crazy arm talent, but doesn’t have the rest of the package. So while I must defer to the group of individuals paid much more money than me to evaluate QB potential, as a fan, I will be least excited about Allen selected as the #1 pick.

Whoever is selected this draft, it will be critical the Dorsey gets it right as the QB’s success will directly be tied to the longevity of the front office. Whoever is selected, we need to root for success as we desperately need some stability in every aspect of the organization.”

rufio: “How did we even manage to pick up Tyrod!? What great insurance for any quarterback we draft this year. I am looking forward to watching competence at that position.”

Q (Chris): “Speaking of the No. 4 overall pick, let’s open up discussion about that. What is your most ideal scenario at that spot if Cleveland stays put?”

Matt Wood: “I think there are only two players in the discussion at four. It’s Chubb or Ward and the only way I consider Ward is if Chubb is gone. Chubb, Garrett and Ogbah give the Browns three plus pass rushers. That’s a difference maker especially if we ever get a lead late. We just watched the Eagles ride a string defensive line to a Super Bowl. He’s the easy choice in my opinion.”

Josh Finney: “Bradley Chubb, If I have to stay at four. I’d like to trade down at least two spots, since I think the fight for quarterbacks at four is going to be intense.

Chubb lets you rotate three guys at the two DE positions. In Nickel, one of the three move inside to the 3-tech. I’d say all three could still play 70%+ of the snaps.

You have enormous flexibility with the two guys you already have; Chubb makes them a wrecking machine. It also gives you some coverage for injury, and I think if you’re picking too 5, it needs to be a QB, Pass rusher, or offensive line. Unless it’s Nelson, I don’t really have a thing for any of the latter In the top 10.”

rufio: “Personally, I love a trade down from four. We could theoretically have three impact players from the first round in this draft and another first rounder next year. We aren’t talking about bottom of the roster guys, we aren’t talking about blue chip players. We need corners and could really use an Aaron Donald type of 3-tech, guys we could get at 12 and 22.

If we stay put, Chubb is my guy. He just doesn’t stay blocked. He isn’t a Von Miller twitchy kind of guy who can just bend under people, but he has enough burst and he has a full array of moves. And he has lots and lots of power. What would teams do with Myles on one side and Chubb on the other? I also like Ward, but I worry about my scarlet-colored glasses. Didn’t seem to be too high on Lattimore last year, though. And although I am very against RBs this high, I could be OK with Saquon. Maybe.”

Ezweav: “The key here is us staying put. I’d prefer we trade down because I’m not terribly in love with any of the top prospects, but I think this draft overall is loaded, so I’d go quantity over quality here. That said, if we do pick somebody, I think I’ve landed on that guy being OSU’s Denzel Ward. I think Safety is a bigger “need”, but I’m not really loving either Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick for different reasons - though I wouldn’t be terribly unhappy with either. Bradley Chubb would be a fine selection as well but his 3-cone at the combine is concerning. There’s also Saquon Barkley, but an RB at 4 seems like a misuse of resources, particularly as deep as this class is at the position. Quentin Nelson shouldn’t be totally written off here either, but then we’ve already got plenty of resources invested in two pretty good guards right now. Thus, Ward, high-five, bar.”

Chris Pokorny: “If Cleveland stays put and we already took our quarterback, this is a unique year in which I’d have my mind completely open to four players: Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Denzel Ward. Last year, I was so obsessed with the Browns taking Malik Hooker and was crushed when he not only fell, but the team still passed on him. I think the Browns would really have to be blown away by a trade offer to pass up on the chance to take one of those four guys staring them in the face.”

Mike Hoag: “I’m on board with staying pat at the No. 4 pick, allowing the Browns to most likely select their top overall player and their top quarterback. Like Josh said, they could trade down a couple spots and still land their top choice, but if it’s Chubb I’m not sure he would last too long, so it’s risky if he’s their guy. I think the era of trading down is over. Preferred players at four for me are Bradley Chubb, Denzel Ward, and then Derwin James, in that order.”

Matt Wood: “I like James. I had him much higher than I expect others to have him on my big board. Sadly he would be wasted with this coaching staff. Am I the only person thinking of how everyone would work with another coaching staff when they filled out their big board?”

rufio: “I like James a lot, but he seems like maybe just a better version of Peppers. There are a pool of players who are good enough for me to ignore need and our current roster completely, and I don’t know if I put James on that level.”

Dan Lalich: “For the fourth pick, I think my ideal scenario is trading back with someone like Buffalo as part of a deal that includes their first round pick next year. I’m not sure there’s anyone I really like fourth overall. Chubb looks good on tape but his athleticism worries me. I really like Ward, but I’m not sure he would go top five in most drafts. I actually love Saquon Barkley, so if we took him with that pick I could make my peace with it, but as the ringleader of the “no first round running backs” circus I would feel kind of icky about it.

If we could grab A pick or two from Buffalo this year and their first rounder next year I would be over the moon. There will be good players available in the middle of the first this year, and I think the Bills are going to be hot garbage, so there’s a chance we end up with the first overall pick again next year.”

Andrea Hangst: “The 4th pick, I’d like the Browns to stand pat, especially if Bradley Chubb is still available because of the obvious upside he’d bring to the team’s front seven. But I can envision a few different situations happening. For example, if the Bills are pushing hard to move up (as I believe they are) but can’t get the Giants’ No. 2 spot and then the Giants take Chubb, Cleveland moving from 4 to add 12 and 22 (and, in this situation, also a second-round pick in 2019) wouldn’t be terrible. Granted the Browns take a quarterback at No. 1, then 22 isn’t a potential disaster as it has been in the past and also gives Cleveland three Round 1 picks. So, I’d say: The Browns should pick at No. 4 if Chubb is still on the board and if not, do the Bills thing and let Buffalo take Josh Allen while Cleveland winds up with three picks in Round 1.”

Q (Chris): “Obviously we won’t know who is still available until Thursday has come and gone, but which prospects who you value as first rounders are you really hoping can slip to No. 33 or No. 35 overall?”

Matt Wood: “For the second round I hope the entire NFL out thinks itself and passes on McGlinchy from Notre Dame. Guy seems like he will be a solid left tackle for 10 years for some team. No he isn’t Joe Thomas but no one on earth is. I think left tackle is going to be a huge issue unless it is addressed in the draft.

If you peeked at my big board you see I think Guice is better than Barkley. If he is there at the top I would love that pick. As always someone is going to drop that we can’t believe is there. My hope is it’s an offensive tackle.”

Mike Hoag: “I think the Browns will be in a good position to land a top RB, OT, and CB with their second round picks. They may not end up going with those three positions, but value and need are certainly there at each spot. The question, then, is which positions should they address at 33 and 35, and which position will likely have an impact player remaining by 64.

If Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, or Ronald Jones are available at 33, I think I’d have the pick in as soon as the first round ends. As for tackle, some players I like who may be available include Brian O’Neil, Tyrell Crosby, Jamarco Jones, and Kolton Miller. Corners in that range are hard to project, but players I can see being available early or late in round 2 include Isaiah Oliver, Donte Jackson, Carlton Davis, and potentially Mike Hughes.

My hypo strategy for round 2 would be to go for the best prospects at 33 and 35, which I believe will be a RB and CB, and then choose from whoever is available between O’Neil, Crosby, and Jones at 64.”

rufio: “I love Isaiah Oliver and Carlton Davis in the second round, particularly if we don’t get Ward earlier in the draft. I also like a lot of the RBs that could be available, and the ones who fit our system the best in my opinion are Guice, Chubb, Penny and Bo Scarborough, though I know that most don’t project him that high. I think Kolton Miller will go in the first round, but he could be a nice pick for us. Unfortunately I don’t like McGlinchy much, but I think those two guys might have the best chance of becoming good LTs in the NFL. If Justin Reid somehow falls to 33, I’d love to draft him. 35 might be too early to consider guys like Shaqem Giffen or PJ Hall, but I’d consider them after that.”

Ezweav: “Connor Williams would be a great value at 33, and I would prefer him over McGlinchey or Brown as-is. Doubt he falls but if he does, we should jump on that selection. Darius Guice is another one that could make it there and would be a great value. D.J. Moore out of Maryland is another. Honestly, I’d also consider Shaq Griffen in this spot, assuming he makes it out of the 1st round.”

Q (Chris): “There was talk earlier this offseason about the Browns trying to deal WR Corey Coleman and start fresh with another young prospect. Would you be OK if Cleveland shipped Coleman away for a draft pick of some kind (and what compensation would it have to be)? And regardless, our there any receiving prospects who you would love Cleveland to go after in the second round or later?”

Matt Wood: “I don’t see the upside in reading Coleman. And I don’t think he is good. Keep him and let him battle his way up the chart. Dumping talent for pennies on the dollar never makes much sense to me. As for WR’s I like none are top end guys for me. I do like Anthony Miller. Wonder if he goes in two or falls a bit.”

Josh Finney: “I am vehemently against trading Coleman at his lowest point of value. Give me a year of health with at least adequate QB play and see what he has. His upside is still very high, and the assets lost by NOT trading him are probably in the day 3 range anyway. Hard pass.

I think there is enormous value In the second for DBs (Oliver, Alexander) and for RB’s (any of Michel, Guice, Penny, or Ronald Mf’ing Jones) some great WRs likely in this space, too. (Moore, Washington, etc). For me, this is where the real chance to make hay is.”

Dan Lalich: “I’m not confident Coleman will ever really be valuable, but I think he’s worth more than whatever they could get in return. He’s still on a relatively cheap deal, so there’s no real need to get out from under the money either. He’s exactly the kind of young, high-upside player we should be looking to grab from other teams. He’s kind of like a better version of Jamar Taylor, an underachieving high draft pick who probably still has a chance to pan out.”

rufio: “I don’t really see the point of selling low on Coleman, but I wouldn’t be particularly upset if we dealt him.”

Ezweav: “I always bristle at the notion of discarding 1st round picks, particularly guys that have been in the league less than three years. However I also know how blow-ups go and part of it is that the GM has ‘his guys’, and CoCo may not be that for Dorsey. So while I’m not exactly “good” with it, I understand it if it happens and won’t gripe too much. It’s just one of those things that happens when we turn everything over, every time. As far as 2nd round WR’s, I love Simmie Cobbs, Anthony Miller, James Washington and Michael Gallup. Also somewhat enamored with Alden Tate, even if his combine was a bit disappointing.”

Chris Pokorny: “I’m actually surprised at the level of loyalty I’m seeing here for Coleman. I acknowledge that he’s had some really rotten luck with two broken hands, but I haven’t seen him rise up to be the player I thought he would be. I have no idea what type of compensation Cleveland could get for him, but if someone offers a third-round pick (which the team lacks right now), I would jump all over it and try my hand at a new receiver.

Q (Chris): “Each of you, give us a couple of later-round or sleeper players who you are head-over-heals over and would love to see in a Cleveland Browns uniform.”

Josh Finney: “Shaquem Griffin. Would LOVE to see it. Unstoppable motor. Mike White: great Day 3 quarterback project. James Looney; fierce DL that can immediately contribute somewhere.”

Matt Wood: “I agree with Griffin. Has the speed and athleticism to play in space. I think he actually goes in the end of the 2nd round.

The guy I love is Dimitri Flowers. Every time I watch Baker highlights he is making plays. He is a RB/TE/WR/FB that does nothing but make plays. He can block as well. This guy is going to be one of those guys that gets 6 yards on every 3rd and 5. I don’t know where he fits in a Haley offense but he is good enough to find a role for.”

rufio: “Some later picks at wideout I’d love to see on the Browns are Simmie Cobbs and Deontay Burnett. But my favorite sleeper is probably Troy Apke out of Penn State. He didn’t start much, but his athletic ability is off the charts and he projects well next to Peppers if we can’t get one of the higher ranked guys.”

Ezweav: “Well I’ve already mentioned Shaq Griffin, but I don’t think he’s going to very late, so he probably doesn’t qualify. One guy I love that I think WILL be available late, is Akrum Wadley out of Iowa. Last year I watched the PSU-IOWA game so that I could watch Barkley, and came away super impressed by Wadley. Watching more tape and he’s just a solid back, and if somehow we don’t take any of the top tier guys, Wadley would be a terrific consolation prize.”

Q (Chris): “This one comes from the DBN Community. Aside from quarterback, what position is hurting us the most right now?”

Matt Wood: “Offensive tackle. I said earlier I think Shon Coleman is going to be a disaster. Other than that the Browns have NFL level players at most positions, even if some are new to their roles (Randall at S for example). But LT is going to be a real issue and it could hamstring this offense. How often will Nkjou need to block instead of run a route? Yuck. Get an OT.”

Ezweav: “Safety. I would have included WR in there but the addition of Jarvis Landry seriously mitigates that situation. Ditto RB and Carlos Hyde. I’m high on Damarious Randall taking over at FS, but have not much in the way of confidence in the other spot (and also Randall’s ascendancy to the position is speculative, as he’s played CB his whole career thus far). Somewhere, at some point (and preferably somewhere high), we need to draft a safety-man, and the one I want is Jordan Whitehead out of Pitt.”

Chris Pokorny: “I think the best way you guys can answer this is to say, if the Browns stay with the four picks they presently have, and you are only thinking of the positions you want to come away with, what are they? For me, and besides quarterback this is in no particular order, I want quarterback, defensive end, cornerback, and safety.

I think a lot of people will try to shoehorn offensive tackle in there. I wouldn’t hate that, but I feel like the Browns shouldn’t rush into replacing Joe Thomas just yet. Let’s see how stable things can be with an average left tackle; there are many teams that get by just fine with that, especially when you consider what we already have invested on the rest of the line.

But our secondary, despite the additions in free agency, could use a boost, and I want that third player (not named Carl Nassib) to complement Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett. Considering I took Saquon Barkley in my writer’s mock draft, it might seem like a surprise that I didn’t say ‘running back,’ but that is a case where the ‘player’ is more special than the particular ‘position of need.’”

Ezweav: “While I would prefer we target players at the positions of QB, S, WR, RB & T (more or less in that order) I think it’s a mistake to look at drafting positions. What we should be doing at every single picks is evaluating the individual players that are available to us regardless of position. Now certainly, positional scarcity and team need may weigh a given candidate more heavily if his overall acuity is close or approximate to another player that may be ranked a bit higher, but overall you don’t (for example) draft a RB in the 2nd round because you NEED a RB, when there may not be a good one there to get (not the best example in this draft as there are lots of really good ones).

The other side of it is whether or not you agree with the way John Dorsey has prosecuted free agency, he has kind of shored up a lot of the ‘holes.’ Getting a top-tier RB (for example) isn’t nearly as important with the presence of Carlos Hyde, or Safety with Damarious Randall, or WR with Jarvis Landry, and so on. Thus, BPA all the way, AFTER getting our QB at 1.”

rufio: “I’m typically against drafting for need earlier in the draft, but I am more accepting of it in the middle rounds. I think at the beginning and at the end of the draft there are probably prospects who just stick out as being seemingly that much better than the other guys available.

With that said, I think an underrated need for this team is the 3-tech position. Larry O and Brantley did OK there last year, but the 4-3 defense really thrives when there are two edge rushers and one dominant 3-tech. I love that the Browns seem to be getting to know guys who are sleepers with big-time athleticism who can play that position.

Outside of that, we could really use some secondary help. The two guys I am interested in seeing back there are Peppers (hopefully closer to the line) and Randall, who has never played in 16 games in his short career. I expect Randall to move back to FS, the position he played in college, which would leave a big hole at corner. Or maybe a couple of holes at corner.

OT, RB, DE, and LB would be nice to upgrade, but I’d put them a notch below corner and DT.”

Mike Hoag: “It’s hard to say given all of the additions Dorsey has thrown into the fold. Defensive back, left tackle, running back, and wide receiver are concern spots where I think I’d focus on, but again, the additions Dorsey has already made may help alleviate some of the need to use high picks. That was probably his intention. I think we have this conversation every year about perceived ‘needs’ we believe a team is going to fill by taking players with high draft picks. And then the team more often than not either disagrees with that perception or just picks the best player available when it’s on the clock. For me, I think strong safety and left tackle are the top non-quarterback priorities. Because of the strength of this class at defensive back, I’d probably prioritize tackle first.”

Q (Chris): “Aside from quarterback, who do you see as the biggest bust in this class?”

Andrea Hangst: “For me, bust potential is something I don’t like to talk about this early in the process; I’d rather wait and see where players land before trying to predict the length and quality of their careers. But quarterbacks are always risky, as you noted. And cornerback is always a steep learning curve position that has high bust potential.”

Dan Lalich: “I think Quenton Nelson will be the biggest bust, solely because he’s going to be way over-drafted for the position he plays.”

Mike Hoag: “Biggest potential bust? I’d hate to knock on a kid before he’s even had a chance to play a down in the NFL, or even get drafted for that matter. Players aren’t at fault for teams’ bad evaluations, so I think the better question would be which players do I think the Browns should avoid over-drafting because they are enticing? I’ll go with that. I think Mike McGlinchey and Calvin Ridley will both be drafted higher than I’d be comfortable with, although both certainly have potential. I don’t think they’ll be definitional busts, but they may not live up to their early pick status.”

Matt Wood: “Bust is hard to quantify. I don’t think Fitzpatrick or Barkley live up to their billing. They may be solid pros but I don’t think they are the impact/franchise changers that many believe. Toss Vita Vea on the heap too, the NFL is moving away from those 2 down players. He may have more pop than Shelton but he will never impact the game. At his very best he is a low impact player and that’s tough to swallow for me for a top 15 pick.”

rufio: “I see Will Hernandez as having pretty big bust potential, depending on where you have him rated. I think Minkah Fitzpatrick and Da’Ron Payne have bust potential too. Nothing Fitzpatrick does seems like it is worth of a top 5 selection to me (I think he is good, I just think he gets overrated which isn’t his fault), and I don’t know what position he plays, but he has some athleticism in his game. Payne seems best as a two-gap player, which limits what schemes he can play in. And while he is strong, he isn’t that big for an NFL player. I worry that he will no longer be a man amongst boys in the league and won’t live up to his draft status.”

Q (Chris): “If Hue, Dorsey, and Haslam had no say at all – what players do you think Gregg Williams and Todd Haley would prefer for their schemes? Or do their past strategies not matter much at this point? Specifically interested in what QB Haley might like the most but could apply the rest of our early/mid picks too.”

Matt Wood: “I hope that Williams or Haley have no say in what players we pick. I wish I knew what players Williams liked, if you saw the video when he was picked Williams was thrilled and then played him on Mars on 3rd and short. I think we have a whole new coaching staff next season.”

rufio: “I am not sure Haley has a certain mold of player, I think he just likes to make it work with what he is given. But I’d guess he wants a tackle after the retiring of Thomas. Gregg would probably want a corner capable of playing press man.”

Andrea Hangst: “I think Todd Haley would like someone who can perform like Le’Veon Bell—a running back who can catch and block as well as run. In that sense, I think Saquon Barkley is atop his leaderboard, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also coveting someone like Sony Michel or Rashaad Penny, either. For Williams, I’d guess Bradley Chubb is on his Round 1 wish list and P.J. Hall is somewhere on it later on.”

Mike Hoag: “I think Williams would like Maurice Hurst quite a bit and would probably trade down from No. 4 to take him. He needs interior gap penetrators (who doesn’t?), but Hurst is a heck of a prospect. There are other players I think he’d prefer, like Derwin James and Roquan Smith, but they aren’t necessarily off the table with Dorsey and company’s involvement.

As for Haley, I don’t think there’s too much merit in the idea that a coach needs or wants a certain kind of player. Most coaches are pretty flexible and their scheme ebbs and flows based on personnel, and it evolves over time. Haley has made multiple archetypes works at the position, and will now have a quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, a player who he’ll have to tweak things up a bit with this upcoming season. If I had to guess, I’d say Haley is a Darnold or Allen guy, but that’s pure speculation.”

Q (Chris): “With Joe Thomas retiring, are there any players you are interested in drafting as his potential replacement? And if so, what round are you looking for him in?”

rufio: “I like Kolton Miller, Connor Williams, and Jamarco Jones in this draft, but I don’t think Jones has the athleticism to play LT and Williams’ 2017 tape worries me a bit. Miller is big and better than most at passing off stunts and being aware of blitzes, but I worry about his athleticism too. I’d be fine with any of those guys but this doesn’t seem like an exceptional LT draft.”

Mike Hoag: “Yes, Dorsey has to keep trying until he finds a long-term guy he can rely on to protect Tyrod Taylor, and whoever he picks Thursday night. I think round 2 will be a good area to find prospects who will not necessarily be elite day one starters, but guys who can eventually take that mantle. Three players I like the best are Billy O’Neill, Tyrell Crosby, and Jamarco Jones, and a couple of them could be available at pick 64 for Dorsey to choose from. Ideally, that’s the route I would go. However, a run could happen in between pick No. 35 and the end of the round, so I would heavily contemplate pulling the trigger there.”

Andrea Hangst: “‘Replacement’ is such a hard word to use when discussing the left tackle post-Joe Thomas. But alas, someone has to do the job. I’d say one of the Round 2 picks must be used on an offensive tackle.”

Matt Wood: “I think the Browns HAVE to come away with an OL. And I branch that out to OL because I really want to give Bitonio a shot at LT if we draft a good guard. But honestly take any of the top 4 OT and I will be pleased. Hope one of the better ones slides to us at the top of 2.”

Q (Chris): “Would you want the Browns to consider trading up to No. 2 overall, so they control the first two picks of the draft? And if so, what are you willing to give up for that?”

Dan Lalich: “I don’t think they need to trade up to two to get the top two players on their board. They will take a QB first, and then I think QBs will get picked second and third, meaning they can get their pick of every other position at four. Trading up to the second pick would seem like a waste to me.”

rufio: “Adding on to Dan’s point, I think if we are trying to trade up to two another team also is and they are willing to pay a premium to get their QB. This would make it even harder to outbid them.”

Matt Wood: “No I wouldn’t trade up. I have said it for months, I expect QB’s to go 1,2,3. The Browns will get their Pick if QB AND positional player. Best of both worlds.”

Andrea Hangst: “No, I would not want them to consider it. I think staying at No. 1 and No. 4 is the right play unless Buffalo comes calling at No. 4 and is willing to give up No. 12, No. 22 and, let’s say a 2019 second-rounder. Moving up is unnecessary for the Browns; just get your guy at No. 1 and move on from there.”

Matt Wood: “Personally I’m not considering a Buffalo trade down without the two firsts this season and next years 1 as well. Especially if it goes 1,2,3 QB. With Denver at 5 there is a huge price tag for a QB. Their offense will be pretty bad. But I still lean towards staying at 4. It’s not like the pick next season can get much higher. And if whatever young QB they take is good then who knows where it lands.”

Mike Hoag: “I see no scenario in which this happens, and someone really messed up if it does. There isn’t one non-quarterback in the draft I would give up any assets to select, especially because I have four non-quarterbacks with such high grades that the Browns are guaranteed to land at least two of them with the fourth pick—technically, it is three considering the New York Jets will most likely be selecting a quarterback. My answer is no, I would give up nothing to move to No. 2, because I wouldn’t do it!

I’m with Matt, I believe the Browns still have a chance to land their top quarterback, AND the best non-quarterback on their board by staying at No. 4. That can happen so long as the Giants take Barkley or a quarterback, and the Jets also go quarterback, and both are more likely than not to occur. Why trade down for anything when you have a chance to select your top two players? The time for trading down to acquire more young prospects, as I have said earlier, is over.”

Chris Pokorny: “About two months ago, I thought this was a real possibility if Cleveland was in love with coming away with their top quarterback and Saquon Barkley. But then the Jets moved up to No. 3, which locks them in at quarterback. That means only one team is at risk of getting Barkley (the Giants at No. 2), and there’s a chance someone could trade up there for a quarterback. On top of all that, as I said earlier, I’ve become much more flexible to other talent available at No. 4 overall. While I would not despise a trade up to No. 2 to get the top two players on their board, I don’t think its necessary.


Thanks to everybody who participated and took the time to read!