New GM John Dorsey has his work cut out for himself with the Browns. The team is 1-31 in the past two seasons, and currently are the clear-cut worst team in the NFL. The good news for Dorsey is that the Browns have tremendous cap space (projected $110 million by overthecap.com), and a great deal of draft picks. A successful draft will be vital for the Browns if they want to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Round 1: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Sam Darnold is the pick here for the Browns. Taking all factors into account, Darnold seems to be the safest choice. At 6-4, 220, Darnold has the great size and all the intangibles to help him become the Franchise QB the Browns so desperately need. Darnold possesses an excellent combination of mobility and arm talent, which allows him to extend plays and create something out of nothing if needed. Darnold has had some trouble with turnovers in his time at USC, but this shouldn’t be too worrisome. A lot of his mistakes are made from bad decisions, not bad throws. Darnold needs to improve his decision making at times, but he will be able to with the right coaching around him.
Darnold is the safest QB for the Browns due to one major reason: his character. All of the top QBs in this draft are extremely talented, and some could be viewed as more pro-ready then Darnold. But what sets Darnold apart is his ability to be a leader, as well as his humility and willingness to learn. Darnold is the best choice for the Browns situation. Times have been tough in Cleveland, and in order for them to turn it around, they need to find the right QB for them. While he may not be viewed as the best QB in the Draft by some, Sam Darnold is the guy Cleveland needs.
Round 1 (via Houston): Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama
Minkah Fitzpatrick is special. Whether he plays CB or S for the Browns can be decided later. Fitzpatrick has flashed greatness, and could he easily become an All-Pro multiple times in his career. Fitzpatrick has great explosiveness, ball skills, footwork, and physicality that will help him become a star in the secondary. Oh, and Fitzpatrick also has great size (6-1, 202). He is the full package, and would make an impact for the Browns Defense right away.
Some may be vouching for Saquon Barkley with this pick if he is available, and this is my response: even though Barkley is an the best Running Back, Fitzpatrick is the smarter choice. This RB class is very talented, and very deep. You can get an RB in Round 2/3 that could very well make the same impact as a Round 1 RB. The same cannot be said about the DBs. For the DBs, the drop off is huge after the top first tier of prospects. The Browns can get another great RB later, but they will not be able to get another player close to Fitzpatrick’s caliber later. The opportunity cost for selecting Barkley would be too great for my liking, and it makes a lot of sense for the Browns to hold off on taking a RB until later.
MORE NFL DRAFT: 2018 NFL Draft Position Rankings (w/ GIFS)
Round 2: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Derrius Guice… is he your RB2 in this draft class? Let me know: send me a tweet if he is/isn’t and why! Anyways, Guice is the second best running back in this class for me, and I think he would be a great fit with the Browns. Guice is explosive, and is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Guice has the power to truck defenders, the speed to break off long runs, and the quickness to make defenders look silly in the open field. The main point is that the Browns should hold off till Round 2 to select a RB. There’s a 99.9% chance that either Guice, Ronald Jones, or Sony Michel will be available for them early in Round 2. Honestly, all three could even be available at this spot. The talent of this RB class is deep, and the Browns can afford to pass on Barkley. They can easily land a dynamic RB in Round 2; whether that is Guice, Michel, Jones, Penny, Chubb, or someone else.
Guice is the second best running back in this class in my mind, and I think he should be available here for the Browns. Guice would start right away, and he would complement the incumbent Duke Johnson quite nicely. I see Crowell leaving in Free Agency, so Guice would be able to step in as a nice upgrade. Guice would be a great piece for the Browns Offense in 2018 and for years to come.
Round 2 (via Houston): Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Mike Hughes can really play. Hughes was a lock-down corner for the undefeated UCF Knights, and his play in 2017 had him rocketing up draft boards. Hughes is tremendous in man coverage, and also excels when in press coverage. Hughes plays the run well, and has great physicality. He plays bigger than his 5-11, 190, frame, and has the skill set to cover inside and out. Hughes is a top cover corner in this class, and with four interceptions in 2017, he can provide turnovers as well.
Hughes also offers great value as a return man. Hughes was dangerous whenever he had the ball in his hands; he had three return touchdowns in 2017. Hughes would be another great addition to the Browns secondary, and would provide some more exciting and young talent for the Browns Defense.
Round 2 (via Philadelphia): Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Isaiah Wynn had a good showing at the Senior Bowl, and has been a powerful offensive linemen during his time with the Bulldogs. Wynn was a big reason for Georgia’s dominant run game, where he regularly opened major holes for Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. Wynn could be gone before the Browns pick here, but if he falls it would be a great situation for the Browns. Wynn would provide excellent depth behind the Browns’ quality starting Guards Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler. Wynn could also play tackle in a pinch, but at 6-2, 302, Wynn projects best as a Guard. He would be a great addition for the Browns, and would help build up the O-line further would. Improving the line as much as possible would do wonders for whoever plays QB in 2018 (and beyond).
MORE NFL DRAFT: 2018 NFL Draft Big Board: Top 50 Prospects (w/ Gifs)
Round 3: Dorance Armstrong Jr, EDGE, Kansas
With all the picks the Browns have, it would be wise to select a quality EDGE rusher in the Draft. Dorance Armstrong Jr. fits that description; he is a solid prospect that can get after the Quarterback. At 6-4, 246, Armstrong could plug in as an outside rusher at Defensive End. He is a quality speed rusher, and uses his quick first step to get around Offensive Tackles. Armstrong has good balance and an array of pass rush moves to help him get to the Quarterback. Pairing him with Myles Garrett would give the Browns with two exciting EDGE rushers for years to come.
Armstrong has 15.5 sacks, 34.5 tackles for loss, and six forced fumbles in his career. Armstrong would be a good choice here for the Browns in the bottom of Round 2. The upside for Armstrong seems to be clear, and he could help the Browns Defense out for sure right away.
Round 4: DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
DaeSean Hamilton is a huge sleeper in this class. Hamilton has been very productive during his career for Penn State; he’s had 214 receptions for 2,842 yards, as well as 18 TDs. Hamilton is a smooth route runner, and can get open playing in the slot and on the outside. Hamilton performed very well all season for the Nittany Lions, and he stood out during his week at the Senior Bowl. His stock is rising, and with a solid combine performance Hamilton could be selected as early as Round 2. Hamilton would be a great addition to the Browns receiving corps; combining him with Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon would be exciting, and fun to watch.
Round 4 (via Carolina): John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
John Kelly is a steal here for the Browns. Longtime scout Chris Landry said John Kelly had been “criminally underused” during his time at Tennessee, the same way Alvin Kamara was during his college career. Landry, a former college and NFL scout and assistant, explained how Kelly could very well be a more productive player in the pros than in college.
Landry wrote that “Tennessee RB John Kelly is a potential draft sleeper, […] Kelly (5’9/212) doesn’t have the talent of an Alvin Kamara, but like several other Tennessee running backs before him, he has a chance to be a better pro than he was in college. Kelly is an explosive playmaker who was criminally underused by the Vols, and his versatile skill set still allowed him to tally over 1,000 total yards and nine touchdowns in 2017.”
Like I mentioned before, this RB class is very deep and talented, and Kelly is one that might get lost in the mix. The Browns would get tremendous value here at the end of the 4th round by adding another dynamic back like Kelly. We saw from the Super Bowl that both teams used a variety of RBs. You can never have too many quality RBs, and the Browns would be wise to walk out with two of them after this Draft is done.
Round 5: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
Jordan Whitehead is another underrated player in this draft class. He may only be 5-11, 195, but Whitehead plays at his best down in the box, as a hard-hitting run defender. He has great instincts and anticipation to be in the right spot to shut down run plays. Whitehead has 235 tackles and 3 interceptions in his three year career for Pittsburgh. The Browns adding another piece to a depleted secondary would be wise, and Whitehead would fit well.
Round 5 (via Kansas City): Chris Worley, LB, Ohio State
Chris Worley is a versatile Linebacker who can play the run and move in space well. Worley could prove to be a quality rotational piece for the Browns, and would be a great choice here in Round 5. Worley has amassed 153 tackles in the past two seasons for the Buckeyes, and can develop into a quality starter at the next level in the right situation. He would add to the Browns linebacking core, and provide the Defense some additional young talent for the future.
Round 6: Kurt Benkerk, QB, Virginia
Kurt Benkert has shown some great flashes during his days at Virginia. His defining moment this season was playing toe to toe with Miami, who was undefeated at the time, during the first half when they matched up. Benkert has flashed potential, and he is worth the selection here for the Browns in Round 6. If Darnold doesn’t pan out, and ironically Benkert does, this could be Kirk Cousins & RG3 all over again.
Round 7: Jayln Holmes, DE, Ohio State
This is the round usually where teams take a flyer on a player they see with some upside. Jayln Holmes was overshadowed in a very deep defensive line group at Ohio State, but when he was on the field Holmes showed that he can get after the Quarterback. The Browns would be wise to add some more EDGE help to complement Myles Garrett, and they’d hope Holmes could contribute. In this case, Holmes finds a home with the Browns.
MORE NFL DRAFT: Full 7-round NY Giants 2018 NFL Mock Draft
Another 7-Round Mock in the books. The Browns have a ton of draft capital, and GM John Dorsey must get this draft right in order to get the Browns on track. Be sure to let me know what you liked, and disliked, by leaving a comment or tweeting to me @FrontRow_Sport. Thanks for reading.