The Cleveland Browns surprised many when they used the No. 4 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft on cornerback Denzel Ward.
That selection paid off in a major way, however, as Ward quickly became the team’s best corner, made the Pro Bowl and finished the season as the highest-graded cornerback in the AFC North, according to Pro Football Focus:
2018's highest-graded cornerbacks from the AFC North pic.twitter.com/E5aioEZDgq— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 12, 2019
While Terrance Mitchell and E.J. Gaines did their best playing opposite Ward, Cleveland could still use another top cornerback to pair with him.
General manager John Dorsey and his staff will have an opportunity to explore the cornerback options at the NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place February 26 through March 4 in Indianapolis. And according to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah and Lance Zierlein, there is one player the Browns should keep an eye on:
Brown split time between wide receiver and cornerback during his redshirt freshman season before converting to cornerback full time. He ended as a first-team All-Missouri Valley Football selection in 2017 and 2018 after posting three interceptions each season and leading the Jackrabbits in pass breakups both seasons.
According to Zierlein’s draft profile, the 6-foot-1 and 200-pound Brown is a:
Late bloomer who came to school as a skinny wide receiver with 4.7 speed and leaves with outstanding height, weight, speed measurements and a shot to go on Day 2 as a cornerback. Brown’s athletic ability and recovery speed increases his opportunities to make plays and flip the field, but he needs to trust his instincts and sharpen his eyes. If a coach can improve his assertiveness against big ball-winners, he has the physical and play traits to become one of the surprise cornerbacks in this draft.
Brown also earned high praise from Taryn Christion, his quarterback at South Dakota State and the conference’s all-time leader in passing yards, total offense and touchdowns passes, according to a November article in the Argus Leader:
“Going against him in practice will make you better, because getting open against him isn’t easy. He’s a leader with everything he does on and off the field. It’s a pleasure to work with a guy who’s so committed to making the team great and making himself better as a player.”
Dorsey made the right call when he tapped Ward in last year’s draft. If Brown is as good as advertised, Dorsey could be calling his name on day two of this year’s draft.