While the Cleveland Browns have yet to make it official, the team has decided on Jim Schwartz as their next defensive coordinator. The hiring of Schwartz not only brings in a seasoned coach with loads of respect behind his name but also means Cleveland won’t have to totally revamp their roster on that side of the ball.
The same issues that were seen all season need to be addressed this offseason either through free agency, trades or the NFL draft. The interior of the defensive line needs significant help, a true free safety would be helpful, help at defensive end with Jadeveon Clowney unlikely to return and stability/health at linebacker will be needed.
Now that Schwartz is in place, we will start our weekly look at what a Browns draft could look like. Some weeks we will also include a full offseason mock-up with free-agent decisions, trades and moves made with players currently on the roster.
For today, we will just be bringing you a seven-round mock draft. Each draft we will use a mock draft simulator to assist us in the process. Each of those provides a little bit different experience including the ability to make trades and use different big boards during the selection process. Today we used FanSpeak’s On the Clock Premium which allows for trades to come away with this mock draft:
DL Gervon Dexter, Florida - With a need to make an impact, we have Cleveland going with a high-upside player in Dexter. At 6’6” and over 300 pounds, Dexter moves like a smaller man and has unique explosiveness. While a veteran addition in free agency should happen, investing in the interior of the defensive line is priority #1 this offseason so using the top pick there makes sense.
*Trade - While it was not a plan, when the third round started there were a couple of interior defensive linemen on the board that we couldn’t pass up on. We used our extra fourth-round pick to move up in the third round to get one of them.
DL Mazi Smith, Michigan - There are still some unknowns about his off-the-field issues but Smith is an excellent player in the middle of the defensive line. Adding Dexter, Smith and a veteran to go along with Perrion Winfrey would greatly upgrade the defense as a whole.
S Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State - The defense continues to get upgraded with the addition of the ball-hawking Brown. He can play single-high looks while also providing some versatility as a run defender as well. With only one pick, after the trade, we continue to focus on upside and immediate impact.
RB Kenny McIntosh, Georgia - Really sticking with some big schools so far, McIntosh provides some versatility to a Cleveland running backs room that is likely to lose both Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson this offseason.
WR Jonathan Mingo, Mississippi - Don’t worry Browns fans, we didn’t forget the offense. In Mingo, we add a bigger framed receiver who can make plays on the outside and complement the talent already on that side of the ball.
LB Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati - A ton of injuries and poor play at defensive tackle made the Cleveland linebackers look bad last year. Here in the late rounds, we add Pace who could help right away or develop while also playing on special teams.
DE Eyabi Anoma, Michigan - Another Wolverine with some consistency concerns (and potentially more in terms of maturity), Anoma is a high-upside athlete worth the risk here in the seventh round.
A mock full of defensive help, a couple of offensive weapons and a lot of upside, Schwartz defense would immediately be more talented and athletic with this draft while relying on Kevin Stefanski and Deshaun Watson to make the offensive side of the ball better.