There is only one certainty when it comes to the Cleveland Browns and the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Browns will not be selecting a quarterback.
Other than that, just about anything is on the table, depending on how the first 16 picks unfold. The Browns have holes - primarily on the defensive side of the ball - and while they are not picking at the top of the round, there should be a talented players at key positions still available when Cleveland is on the clock.
Knowing that, it is a bit surprising to see the player that Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Browns selecting in his post-combine mock draft:
No. 17: Cleveland Browns - A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi - After signing Kareem Hunt at running back, re-signing Greg Robinson at left tackle and answering many needs with a stellar 2018 draft class, the Cleveland Browns enter the 2019 draft with few immediate needs.
Finding better boundary players on both sides of the ball is one area of potential improvement.
Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown fits well with what the Browns are doing offensively under Freddie Kitchens. Brown has excellent route-running skills, impressive speed (4.49 seconds) and great physicality at 226 pounds on his 6’0” frame.
While he often played as a slot receiver in college, that was more a product of the system at Ole Miss. He also has the ability to win on the outside of the formation. That’s where the Browns can use him while letting Jarvis Landry and David Njoku get more one-on-one looks.
On the surface, Brown might seem like a decent enough selection. He has nice size and is coming off a season that saw him catch 85 passes for a school-record 1,320 yards, while scoring six touchdowns. Brown finished his three years with the Rebels with 189 receptions for 2,984 yards and 19 touchdowns.
But look a little deeper and it seems highly unlikely that Dorsey would select a wide receiver in the first round of the draft.
For starters, Dorsey has been in charge of six drafts as a general manager - five with the Kansas City Chiefs (2013 through 2017) and last season with the Browns. During that time he has never selected a wide receiver in the first round. That is not to say he can’t change his mind, but the past is probably a good indication of how Dorsey views the draft.
There is also a question if Brown is even worth being selected in the first round. Everyone evaluates prospects a bit differently, but Brown in the first round may be a bit of a reach.
The bigger issue is that the Browns have more important holes to fill and if you continue through the rest of Miller’s mock draft you see players such as:
- LSU cornerback Greedy Williams going to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20
- Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard going to the Houston Texans at No. 23
- Washington cornerback Byron Murphy going to the Oakland Raiders at No. 24
- Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins going to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 26
- Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker going to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 29
Those are all players that, if they were available at No. 17, seem like they would not only fill a strong need for the Browns, but also fit into Dorsey’s draft history.
What do you think Browns fans? If the Browns select Brown (or any wide receiver at No. 17) would you be pleased?