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Who Should the Cleveland Browns Select in the First Round?

NFL Combine - Day 4 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After the 2019 NFL Combine, we’re starting to get a sense what of this April’s draft has in store. But as Browns fans, it feels really odd to be picking outside of the top 5, let alone the top 15. Who can we expect to be available, and who should we root for the Browns to select?

Below are my brief, subjective descriptions of players and thoughts about where they will be drafted. There’s still a lot of time between now and the draft for things to change, but it’s nice to check in on this pulse after the NFL Scouting Combine.

The “There’s No Way They Are Available at 17” Tier

It’s only early March, but at this point we can clearly expect each of these guys to be gone. I’m excluding QBs here (more on that in a bit), but if any of these guys is somehow still on the board and also not uncovered as a sociopath between now and the draft, we should run the card up.

1. Nick Bosa, DE, the Ohio State University

Just imagine a line bookended by Bosa and Myles Garrett. Bosa isn’t the most impressive workout warrior, and we should not have expected him to be. He performed better than his brother Joey Bosa in almost every combine test, meaning he has more than enough athleticism to impact the NFL game. He is shorter, quicker, and more compact than his brother, but every bit as slippery for offensive tackles.

2. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

His athleticism is incredible for an interior guy. He can play in any scheme. And he should be an impact player against the run or pass.

3. Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky

Another nightmarish pass rusher, Allen is smaller and quicker than Bosa, with potentially more upside but also a lower floor.

The Quarterback Tier

I think both of these guys will be gone by 17, but even if they are available we are set at QB.

4. Dwayne Haskins, QB, the Ohio State University

He’s got tons of natural arm talent, but very little starting experience. He grew more comfortable with things like setting protections and understanding defenses as the year went on.

5. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Murray is small, but an electric athlete. He’s got a good arm but loses the strike zone at times. Currently, it sounds like he is going #1 overall.

The “There is a Slight Chance They Are Available” Tier

I suspect that most or all of these guys will be gone. But the draft is crazy so you never know.

6. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

I’m admittedly biased, but I think Gary is a more impressive athlete than football player at this point. His potential is off the charts, though.

7. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

He lit up the combine, and I already thought pretty highly of him headed in. He can play high at times but seemed to perform well anyway.

8. Devin White, LB, LSU

He’s fast, he tackles well, he can cover, he can rush the passer a little bit. He’s everything you want from a modern LB, except maybe a few inches in height.

9. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

He’s another super athletic interior D lineman. He weighed in well at the combine, but if he had been lighter there were rumors that a team might try to convert him to Mike linebacker. He is that athletic.

10. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

I think he’ll be the first CB taken in this draft, and he’s good. He has man to man cover skills and good height. Combining him with Denzel Ward could be really fun.

11. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

He’s the kind of penetrating 3-technique tackle who would pair really nicely with Myles.

12. Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

In my opinion, Dillard has the most potential to play LT out of anyone in this class. He’s an incredible athlete with the natural quickness and length you want protecting the edge. His technique can get sloppy when he’s winded, but his potential is insane.

13. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

No one is as good as Joe Thomas. Williams reminds me a lot of Thomas, only just a tiny bit less quick. He’s a great technician and seems to be able to play out in space on the edge. He also seems to be able to succeed at tackle despite a lack of ideal length, just like Thomas.

The “I’m Not Sure I Want These Guys” tier

There is a solid chance these players are available, but I don’t know that they are good fits or good values.

14/15. Noah Fant/TJ Hockenson, TEs, Iowa

I think Fant is a good seam-stretching TE who will never be an intimidating blocker, I think Hockenson is a good blocker who can work the underneath routes. I don’t think many of the elite TE prospects actually turn in to elite TEs, and if we are drafting someone I’d rather take a chance on someone later. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think we’d get a better value somewhere else.

16. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

He was reportedly injured at the combine but did not look like the type of athlete who can hold up on the left side, or really that I’d want as a franchise cornerstone on the right side. I think he might end up at guard, which is not the type of player we really need and I don’t think his talent trumps need.

17. DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

He lit up the combine and plays a position of need. But this scares me a little:

He’s a physical freak...except when it comes to changing directions. Can he parlay that into a great NFL career? I don’t know. But I am weary of hype due to the combine.

18. Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma

I think Ford will be a good player. I also think he plays guard in the NFL.

19. Jachai Polite, DE, Florida

He’s smallish, not an elite athlete on the edge, and not as “slippery” or powerful as Bosa in my opinion. With Olivier Vernon now in the fold, would he be worth the risk that he can replicate his college production?

20. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Maybe this is not fair to Brown, but I am a little scared of crazy fast, but small WRs. He weighed in at 166lbs at the combine. Is he John Ross, or is he DeSean Jackson? I can’t tell.

21. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Ferrell is a productive and fairly polished defender, but he appeared to lack elite suddenness, fluidity, and explosion at the combine. How much of his college success was due to playing next to other NFL players? And how “maxed out” is he? With Vernon on the team, I don’t know that I want to take him in the first round.

The “Other QBs That Might Get Drafted Before Our Pick” tier

I would probably consider these guys reaches, but teams are desperate for QB help. There is a real chance one or both are selected before our pick.

22. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

23. Drew Lock, QB Missouri

The “Realistically, One of These Guys Will Be Available” tier

I’ll be rooting hard for any QB and any guy in the “I’m Not Sure I Want Them” tier to be selected before our pick, but we can’t expect all of the guys we like to be available at 17.

Even if the board plays out in the worst possible way, we will still have at least one of these prospects available.

24. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

He’s the second best LB in this draft, and only slightly behind the other Devin in my opinion.

25. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

Personally, I wouldn’t take another risk on character with this roster. Simmons has a serious red flag due to his arrest record, and has a torn ACL to boot. But he is probably the last elite 3-tech available and will probably be in the conversation.

26. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

He’s a massive human being and a clogger in the middle. His limited pass rush ability makes him a questionable fit for us, but he’s a really good player.

27. Garrett Bradburry, C, NC State

He’s got great athleticism, good size, and excellent technique. Great player, not a huge need for our team.

28/29. DeAndre Baker or Rock Ya-Sin, CBs, Georgia or Temple

Baker is a skilled man to man corner without elite speed, Ya-Sin is a bit raw but has the attitude and athleticism you want. I see them as 2nd tier corners in this class, and while we don’t have a huge need there, anyone who can help the defense is a welcome pick.

30. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

He’s a big, physical receiver who can win contested passes. He tested well enough at the combine to eliminate some concerns about his speed, but he won’t be the guy taking the top off of the defense.

31. Byron Murphy, Secondary, Washington

Murphy’s 40 time worries me a lot for a CB, a position where you simply need great athleticism. But his skill and short-area athleticism are great. Could he move into a nickel or safety role in Steve Wilks’ defense, and would that be worth a first round pick?

32. Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

Abram isn’t the biggest guy, but he hits hard. He’s a little stiff and probably not an ideal deep centerfield safety, but he displayed good speed at the combine. If Steve Wilks wants to play with a hybrid S/LB on the field, having Randall, Abram, and Peppers together might be nice.

What do you think?

Who is the 17th player on your board? In other words: if the 16 players you wanted most were gone by the time the Browns pick, who would be your choice?

Which players did I miss who would be worthy of consideration at 17th overall, or who is overrated on this list?

Let’s discuss below in the comments.

Author’s note: this article was edited to correct the omission of offensive tackles Andre Dillard and Jonah Williams.