Cleveland Browns’ Post-Combine 7-Round Mock Draft
Cleveland Browns Look to Re-Group Through 2014 NFL Draft
The 2013 NFL season was a strange one for the Cleveland Browns, as after losing the first two games of the season the team jettisoned Trent Richardson off to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. After the trade was completed nearly every other player on the team was rumored to be on the trading block, and there was no doubting that the organization was looking to stack up draft picks in 2014 and beyond.
In an odd set of circumstances the Browns actually managed to win three straight games after trading away Richardson before stumbling the rest of the way to a 4-12 record. The team simply didn't have enough depth to compete for an entire season as they flip-flopped between three below average quarterbacks, had to pick up Willis McGahee off the streets to be their starting running back, their offensive guard play was in shambles and the team struggled to clog holes for opposing rushers.
Along the way things didn't all look doom and gloom for the Browns, though. Josh Gordon developed into one of the top-five wide receivers in the game, and Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Jordan Cameron, Joe Haden and T.J. Ward all joined him at the 2014 Pro Bowl. Of course these six players can not make Cleveland a playoff team beginning with 2014 by themselves, but they provide a great base for new general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine to build a base around.
Fortunately for the Browns, the organization has $51.1 million in salary cap space to be spent during the offseason and possibly even more importantly they have a whopping ten picks at the 2014 NFL Draft. With two picks each in the first, third and fourth rounds and one in the second, fifth, sixth and seventh, the Browns have a great chance to build up a base of depth and to get in young talent that can be nurtured together for years to come.
Keeping this vital upcoming draft in mind, I have formed a mock draft for the Browns. Each of the selected players have an extreme amount of upside, fill a vital need for the organization and will be available at the slot they are placed in.
1st Round, 4th Overall - Johnny Manziel
The Cleveland Browns are in dire need of a franchise quarterback, and Johnny Manziel looks primed to fill this role. The former Heisman Trophy winner has all of the intangibles that general managers look for in a quarterback, as he gives 110 percent all the time, is a leader on the field and has a proven ability to take on the best college teams head on. When you combine this with Manziel having an accurate arm, being able to connect on long passes and having the elusiveness to create plays in and out of the pocket, the Browns would be foolish to pass on the former Texas A&M quarterback.
1st Round, 26th Overall - Odell Beckham Jr.
Former LSU wide receiver Odell Bechkam Jr. had a great combine as he ran a 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash, proved to be a great route runner and generally looked to be an all-around athlete. When you combine this with a performance of 59 receptions, 1152 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2013 and you watch him blow by SEC defensive backs, it is clear that Beckham can develop into a solid second option out wide or in the slot. This would complement Josh Gordon perfectly and ensure that Johnny Manziel is never short of open options downfield.
2nd Round, 35th Overall - Tre Mason
The Cleveland Browns are in dire need of a running back who is youthful and can handle a large load of rushes, and Tre Mason can certainly fill both areas. Mason is incredibly strong with the ability to both run over opposing defenders and run by them, and his average of 31.33 rushes per game over the final six games in 2013 shows he doesn't mind being a top option. Some will be put off by the fact that Mason is only 5-foot-9 and ran a 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash which will allow him to slip into the early portion of the second round. The Browns would be wise to pounce with their second-round pick.
3rd Round, 71st Overall - Cyril Richardson
The Cleveland Browns are in bad need of a depth at the position of offensive guard, and Cyril Richardson can be an anchor on the line for years to come. At 6-foot-5, 329-pounds, Richardson is a behemoth of a human being. He plays a physical and aggressive style that moves the line forward and earned the Baylor graduate a place on the All-America team in 2013. Richardson has the potential to be a All-Pro offensive guard, and the Browns need to grab him early on in the third round.
3rd Round, 83rd Overall - Shayne Skov
Cleveland has a blatant need to at the very least bring in depth at the inside linebacker position as D'Qwell Jackson is getting older and may even be cut this offseason while Craig Robertson struggled in his sophomore campaign. Former Stanford inside linebacker Shayne Skov would at the very least bring depth to the position and very well could become a starter as soon as 2014. Skov has an eye for the backfield, is extremely aggressive and dominant at the line and his totals of 109 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2013 show a guy who has had success at the college level. The Browns would be wise to pounce on the 6-foot-2, 245-pound linebacker early on in the third round.
4th Round - Andre Williams
Andre Williams rushed for 2,177 yards last year for Boston College, yet he has never received respect as a dominant running back and genuine pro prospect. The 6-foot, 230-pound running back combines brute power with speed that is quietly deceptive, and there is little doubting that he could at the very least be a great option in a dual system. Williams compiled a respectable 4.54 time in the 40-yard dash, and the Browns would be wise to draft him in the fourth round to form a two-headed monster in the backfield with Tre Mason.
4th Round - Adrian Hubbard
Former Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard has the potential to bring much-needed depth to the Browns linebacker corps as he is extremely strong, has great speed and a general nose to wreak havoc in the backfield. At the combine Hubbard weighed in at 6-foot-6, 257-pounds, ran a 4.69 time in the 40-yard dash and posted a 38.5-inch vertical leap, all of which ranked amongst the best of all linebackers. While there is genuine question as to whether Hubbard would be prepared to be an every-down player as of yet, the Browns would be wise to pick him up and watch him develop into a dominant force at his own pace.
5th Round - Matt Patchan
The Browns would be wise to draft former Boston College offensive tackle Matt Patchan with their first pick in the fifth round. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound Patchan has the size to be a dominant force on the line for years to come, and his 4.81 time in the 40-yard dash, 33.5-inch vertical jump and 1.59 10-yard time show that he has the physical skills to be a force as well. Questions over his health will likely mean that Patchan is available in the fifth round, and the Browns would be wise to pick him up and slot him into a backup role for the 2014 season.
6th Round - Andre Hal
The Cleveland Browns actually have a dominant pair of cornerbacks in Joe Haden and Buster Skrine, but they are sorely lacking in depth behind the two. Enter in former Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal, who proved to be a dominant one-on-one corner last year on the way to compiling three interceptions, 14 passes defended and 49 tackles. Hal will likely never be a Pro-Bowl level player, but he certainly could develop into a solid No. 2 corner and would be a more than worthy depth player in 2014.
7th Round - Jordan Najvar
With their last pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns would be wise to select former Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar. The youngster has exceptional size at 6-foot-6, 260-pounds, and impressed at the combine as he picked up the best 60-yard shuttle amongst tight ends and the second best 3-cone drill. With Pro-Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron already on board there will be little expectations put on Najvar. This will allow him to quietly develop into a secondary tight end option and cap off a draft in which the Browns dramatically rejuvenated their franchise.