Cleveland is widely speculated to fix the left tackle position in the first round - although general manager Andrew Berry said on Monday that might not be the lock that everyone believes it to be - and also needs help at linebacker, safety and along the interior of the defensive line.
Pro Football Focused released its final three-round mock draft on Tuesday, so let’s take a look at how well they did in filling the needs of the Browns.
In the first round, with the No. 10 overall selection, PFF gives the Browns offense tackle Jedrick Wills from Alabama:
Despite adding Jack Conklin in free agency, the Browns are still in need of another starting tackle. Wills is an elite athlete who has all the potential to make an early impact paving the way for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the run game.
With Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (No. 6 to the Los Angeles Chargers), Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs (No. 8 to the Arizona Cardinals) and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons (No. 7 to the Carolina Panthers) off the board, Wills would not be a bad “consolation prize” for the Browns.
Wills falls below the height/length norm for tackles, but his quick, well-timed punches and varied approach prevent defenders from finding rush rhythms and using length against him. Agility and body control allow him to handle move-blocking duties successfully, but his leverage and elite transference of power from hips to his hands provide a big advantage as a body mover at the point of attack. His desire to control each snap occasionally leads to over-sets and lunging in an effort to stay ahead of opponents. Wills is one of the most impressive tackles in the draft; he has basketball-caliber foot quickness and the quick hands of a boxer, and all of it is wrapped in a stout, powerful package of bad intentions. His game is tailor-made for the NFL, and his range of success is good starter to All-Pro.
With the left tackle position secured, we move on to Round 2 where PFF has the Browns selecting Mississippi State linebacker Willie Gay Jr. with the No. 41 overall selection.
While the Browns do need help at the linebacker position, Gay was not the model of consistency during his time with the Bulldogs as The Athletic’s Dane Brugler points out in his draft guide (subscription required):
A one-year starter at Mississippi State, Gay played primarily the Will linebacker position in former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s scheme. A former top recruit, he showed flashes of high-level play during his time in Starkville, but consistency was an issue, playing in only five games in 2019 due to an NCAA suspension. Gay owns the athletic twitch and pursuit speed that is the medicine for horizontal offenses, chasing down jet sweeps and defending both sidelines. While he plays with passion, his decision-making (on and off the field) deserves scrutiny. Overall, Gay’s undisciplined play style and inconsistent key-and-diagnose skills create concern for his next level role, but he flows to the football with urgency and closing speed, showcasing special teams skills and NFL starting upside.
Gay feels more like the type of player the former Browns general manager John Dorsey would have taken a chance on - would Berry be willing to do the same in his first draft? A more realistic selection in this spot would be Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (who goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the very next pick) or Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun (selected at No. 51 by the Dallas Cowboys).
Things get a little stranger in the third round with the selection of Notre Dame tight end Chase Claypool at No. 74, the first of two selections the Browns have in the third round.
Claypool, who is 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds is listed as a tight end but has been projected as a potential slot receiver because of his size and athleticism. But there are issues, as Kyle Crabbs highlights at The Draft Network:
Chase Claypool illustrated steady growth throughout his career at Notre Dame, peeking as a senior in 2019 when he caught 66 passes for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. The appeal with Claypool stems from his size, catch radius and straight line speed. He finds success in contested situations and has the ability to out-muscle most defenders. With that said, separation quickness, release technique and inconsistent catching technique are notable items to be concerned with when projecting him to the next level. Claypool is likely to be challenged with plenty of contact at the release and catch point in the NFL, making it necessary for him to continue to showcase his physical demeanor and win in tightly contested situations. Claypool has limitations to be mindful of, but he can fulfill a niche role as a big slot that provides a complementary weapon for an offense that features speed and separation specialists to draw coverage away from Claypool and provide spacing for him to work. Claypool is a proven special teams performer, adding value to his incomplete skill set that will enable him to stick at the next level.
If the Browns are truly looking for a big, athletic receiver to fill a “niche role as a big slot,” don’t they already have a candidate on the roster in 6-foot-4 and 246-pound David Njoku?
PFF closes things out for the Browns by selecting Washington guard/center Nick Harris at No. 97.
A four-year starter at Washington, Harris started at guard before moving to center the past two seasons in former head coach Chris Petersen’s shotgun spread offense. Despite his position versatility in college, he is viewed as a one-position player by most around the league. Harris is quick and determined in everything he does on the football field, displaying the alpha attitude and intelligence that translates to the pro level. While he loves to finish and finds a way to stick to blocks, his body type will limit him in certain situations. Overall, Harris is scheme-specific and will be overlooked because he lacks ideal NFL measurables, but he has a terrific blend of smarts, technique and agility with a competitive playing temperament, displaying starter-level traits in a zone-blocking scheme.
Trying to fix the right guard position is admirable given that Wyatt Teller is the last man standing from last season’s mess and is not very good. And given that he played the last two seasons at center, Harris could provide protection in case something were to happen to starting center J.C. Tretter.
What do you think, Browns fans? Would you be happy if the first three rounds of the draft played out this way?
I would grade PFF’s 3-round mock draft:
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