The Browns have the 26th pick in the first-round of the NFL draft. With the success of 2020, they are just pieces away from becoming a serious contender in the league. In the second-round Cleveland picks at number 59 and has a pair of third-round slots at 89 and 91.
While there is value in picks from the fourth-round and down, the first three selections are critical to a team’s growth - to Cleveland’s continued growth.
The Senior Bowl has high-caliber talent each and every year. ESPN will broadcast every practice and then NFL Network has the live game feed on Saturday with kickoff at 2:30pm (Eastern).
Here are five players the Browns should pay attention to this week.
DE/DT Carlos “Boogie” Basham, Jr. - Wake Forest
Pass rushers. Everybody needs pass rushers. Basham (6’,5”-285 pounds) is an excellent pass rusher.
The Browns need a compliment to Myles Garrett to make the pass rush as potent and dominating as possible. Basham is also a very good run stuffer and is a “splash” player. Was a four-year starter and netted 173 total tackles, 112 pressures, 19.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, eight pass defenses and 35.5 tackles for loss.
Situationally could slide inside to rush interior gaps, but projects as a defensive end in the 4-3. Very strong at the point of attack who will win with power, effort and technique. The COVID shortened season should not affect his progression to the next level.
A tough guy as an athletic strong-side end. Is not a burst-type player, but will give steady pressure into the backfield. Not the fastest, but nobody is going to out-work him.
Projected round: 1st
WR Kadarius Toney – Florida
On the surface, one position that does not appear as a need is wide receiver. However, Rashard Higgins is an unrestricted free agent and may be gone. KhaDarel Hodge, who often was featured as the third receiver, only played in five games this year with reoccurring injuries to his hamstring plus missed another game due to COVID. For the year, he had just 11 receptions. And the rumors of OBJ being traded just won’t die. With this in mind, wouldn’t another blue chip wide receiver make sense to help keep this volatile offense rolling?
Jarvis Landry will need another receiving threat in the lineup, and Toney fits that requirement nicely. Toney is elusive and usually makes the first man miss. Do not think for one moment that the defense will get every pick in the draft especially if there is a very good playmaker sitting there at the Number 26 spot in the draft.
Toney (5’-11”, 190 pounds) has exceptional speed as evidenced by his 4.4 time in the 40. He would become best suited for the slot position and is simply electric. This past season he had 70 receptions for 984 yards with 11 total touchdowns with 1,145 yards from scrimmage.
His skill level will do some scary things for an offense at the NFL level. This guy can really move once he has the ball in his grasp and is a good open field runner. One knock is that he uses his body a bit too much on contested catches instead of using his hands, but has good range and is versatile.
Toney has brains and is basically untapped as far as potential. Strong guy who isn’t easy to bring down and will fight for yardage. An exceptional athlete with excellent vision.
Projected round: Late 1st
LB Chazz Surratt - North Carolina
Probably the Number 1 need of the Browns is the linebacker position. Surratt (6’,3”-230 pounds) would give Cleveland a steady player who is a tackling machine. In the past two seasons he had 206 total tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, 15 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks.
Very quick as evidenced by his 4.54 time in the 40. Named First Team All-ACC the past two seasons and was named Parade National Player-of-the-Year coming out of high school. He was the runner-up for ACC Defensive Player-of-the-Year two years in a row. Surratt is a three-down player. Excellent use of hands while good with angles.
Surrant will make an excellent pursuit player and able to stay in the game. Has become polished in coverage drops and understands routes as he is former quarterback, but his strength is tackling. Has sideline-to-sideline abilities and is fluid with tight end coverage. Good pass rusher as well.
Projected round: 2nd
CB Elijah Molden – Washington
Good cornerbacks are a position that every NFL club cannot have enough of. Molden (5’,10”-191 pounds) is an excellent tackler but a bit undersized. Would fit the slot or nickel position most likely. Excels in pass coverage most of all. Not elite speed, but has great instincts to help him recover. Named First Team All-Pac 12 this year. His father is former NFL cornerback Alex Molden.
His resume as a junior had the juice to enter the NFL draft where he had 79 tackles, 12 pass defenses, three forced fumbles and four interceptions. He is a true football player and loves the game first and foremost. He does lack top shelf speed with his 4.51 time in the 40, and he does not possess the bulk of most NFL cornerbacks. Molden has toughness and outstanding route awareness. He can quickly read combinations and is a very good hitter despite his smaller frame. Does have difficulty with keeping up vertically.
Projected round: Late 2nd
K Jose Borregales – Miami
The big question is, are the Browns satisfied with Cody Parkey? If not, Borregales (5’,10”-205 pounds) would solve any concerns at the kicker position.
He won the Lou Groza Award in 2020 as the nation’s best kicker. In 2019, he was the runner-up and the year before that was a finalist so he has pedigree and experience as he has been a starter for all four college years. Borregales began his career at Florida International and then transferred to Miami his senior season.
For his college career, he went 70 for 88 field goal attempts for a 79.5 percentage, only missed three extra points out of 171 attempts, and scored 378 points in 50 games. At Miami, he kicked 20 of 22 field goal attempts with a 90.9 percentage and was a perfect 35-35 on PATs. He also had 46 touchbacks on 65 kickoff attempts. He made both kicks over 50-yards including a 57-yarder.
Named Unanimous All-American in 2020 plus First Team All-ACC. Every season in college he improved and had his best year with Miami.
Projected round: 5th-6th