Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have been known for, among other things, being a team “that can’t draft.”
There is a lot of validity to that statement if you only look at the team’s first-round picks through 2016, but selections in the draft’s later rounds reveal a different story.
A quick run through of the current roster shows a group of core players all selected on the second or third day of the draft, including Antonio Callaway, Genard Avery, Larry Ogunjobi, Joe Schobert, Rashard Higgins, Duke Johnson, Joel Bitonio and Christian Kirskey.
The Browns own eight picks in the third round or later in the 2019 NFL Draft, which provides general manager John Dorsey several opportunities to add to that list.
One player that may fall into that category is Jimmy Moreland, a redshirt senior cornerback from James Madison University.
Moreland appeared in 56 games for the Dukes, making 44 starts, and was a consensus First Team All-American in 2018. He finished his collegiate career with a school record 18 interceptions, six of which he returned for touchdowns, also a school record. He was also voted the Colonial Athletic Association’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after totaling 56 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, 10 pass breakups and a blocked punt.
The only blemish is that he missed the 2015 season after being dismissed from the team after being charged with petty larceny. Given a second chance, however, Moreland rejoined the Dukes in 2016 and made the most of his opportunity.
The biggest thing working against Moreland may be his size. While he is listed as 5-foot-10, which is fine enough, he weighs just 175 pounds. Considering that cornerback Denzel Ward, who is 15 pounds heavier than Moreland while being just an inch taller, has some issues going up against heavier players at times last season, it is fair to wonder how Moreland will hold up.
At the college level Moreland was able to hold up fine, and often used his size to his advantage, according to The Draft Network’s Trevor Sikkema:
Due to his smaller size, Moreland gets away with more contact than I usually see with other cornerbacks, but he uses that to his advantage. Whether it’s keeping pace with a receiver down the field or jamming them near the line of scrimmage, Moreland is not afraid to get physical with bigger players.
There is so much dog in Moreland. There aren’t many players his size who have a willingness to press like Moreland did, as shown above, and once he did he stuck with his man, got his hand in there, popped the ball up and even took it away himself.
Moreland is such a fun player to watch because the area of his game that should be a big disadvantage for him is one that he takes head on and often conquerors — or at least he did at the FCS level. He likely won’t be able to have that same type of success against NFL guys, but he’ll still be all over them whenever he can be.
Moreland also showed off his maturity and leadership skills last season as he took on a larger role after cornerback Rashad Robinson, the preseason pick as the conference’s defensive player of the year, suffered a season-ending foot injury in August.
The Browns need help at the cornerback position, which makes Moreland a player to watch. His size may not make him an ideal fit for an outside cornerback, but his toughness and speed means he might perfectly suited to be a slot cornerback who join Cleveland’s revamped secondary.