The Cleveland Browns Might Not Suck in 2016

I’m here to give hope that the Browns can finish 8-8. (Photo: cleveland.com)

The title to this article is actually encouraging to all who have suffered through rooting for the Cleveland Browns. Since 2008, the Browns are a combined 37-91, and if that doesn’t make you want to vomit, I don’t know what will.

Cleveland has sucked for years. They’ve been the doormat of the NFL. They’ve been unable to establish a starting quarterback, tenure a coach, or draft reasonably successful players onto their roster.

But I bring tidings of joy. The Cleveland Browns might go 7-9, or even 8-8 next season. Eight wins in Cleveland is the equivalent to winning $50 off a scratch-off card for a hopeless lotto addict who “lives life on the edge”.

The Browns simply need to have a solid draft to provide hope to Cleveland for 2016. The only problem with that is that the Browns, and especially owner Jimmy Haslam, have no clue how to put together a solid draft. Luckily for them, I did a few for them.

The Browns have Robert Griffin III, and although he’s no superstar, I think he is serviceable enough to keep the Browns from having to use their first pick in the draft on a quarterback.

For the second pick of the draft, there’s not a lot of room for Cleveland to be cute. There’s no need to reach for an offensive player at this point, especially with the plethora of talent at offensive positions throughout the draft.

With the first pick, it will come down to drafting Myles Jack from UCLA, or Ohio State product Joey Bosa. Cleveland had just 29 sacks last season, putting them as the 28th best pass rushing team last season. They need to get to the quarterback next season, and Joey Bosa can help do that. Bosa is strictly a 4-3 edge rusher, but the Browns run a 3-4 alignment.

Linebacker Myles Jack is known for his versatility and explosiveness. He could be the edge-rusher the Browns are looking for. Jack can fit into any scheme, and provided he can shake off the knee injury that ended his college football career, Jack can be a star in the NFL. I think the Browns have to take Jack with the second pick in the draft.

As the next rounds come, it’s harder to predict who will be available. The biggest needs for Cleveland outside of their first pick are wide receivers, offensive line help, and a defensive tackle who can stuff the run. A possible quarterback, running back, linebacker, defensive back could also find their way onto the Browns’ roster for 2016.

Mock One

R1P2: OLB Myles Jack, UCLA

R2P1: WR Michael Thomas, Ohio State

R3P2: DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

R4P1: G Vadal Alexander, LSU

R4P40: QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State

After picking Myles Jack, the Browns must shift their focus to the offensive side of the ball. With Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman off the board, I think drafting Michael Thomas is a steal with the first pick of the second round. Thomas’ route running must be refined, but his ability to run after the catch and hands are stellar.

Robert Nkemdiche is by no means a third round grade as far as talent goes, but his off the field antics will cause him to fall in the draft. If the Ole Miss product is still undrafted by the third round, the Browns have to give him a try. He can provide interior pressure and stuff the run game on day one for Cleveland.

To shore up the offensive line, I took Vadal Alexander. I don’t really like this pick, but he was the best guard in the draft left. Alexander is too slow to play tackle like he did for LSU, but he’s a great run blocker and a huge body. Alexander will need to improve his quickness and athleticism in order to become a solid starter in the NFL.

If RG3 doesn’t work out, why not give a shot to Cardale Jones. He may be unproven and raw, but he has a cannon attached to his right arm and he could throw to Michael Thomas if RG3 is injured or benched.

Mock Two

R1P2: OLB Myles Jack, UCLA

R2P1: WR Josh Doctson, TCU

R3P2: RB Derrick Henry, Alabama

R4P1: G Rees Odhiambo, Boise State

R4P40: QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State

With little mobility in the second round, I’ve got Cleveland drafting Josh Doctson. Doctson’s speed and big play ability is off the charts. There’s rare questions to Doctson’s game, other than his struggles with press coverage at times. Doctson is shifty and quick, and could burn just about an corner for a big play on any down.

The Browns could use an actual starting running back, rather than searching for one to replace what Peyton Hillis did in 2010. Derrick Henry is a bruiser, and he was my favorite running back to watch in college football last season. Henry is a downhill runner with tackle-breaking ability, but he’s a poor pass catcher and takes a while to reach top speed. Even so, he played in a more pro-style offense than most running backs, so I think he could thrive in Cleveland.

I really like this pick at guard, as Reed Odhiambo can really help the Browns. The Boise State product’s biggest weakness is his inability to stay on the field. He never started more than nine games for the Broncos in a season, but he’s still a versatile and balanced offensive lineman. Provided Odhiambo can stay healthy, he can be better than Vadal Alexander.

Yet again, I took Cardale Jones in the Browns’ second pick of the fourth round. He’s the best quarterback option at that stage in the draft, and there’s a handful of running backs and wide receivers who are good enough to be drafted in that pick, none of which the Browns will need at that point.

Mock Three

R1P2: OLB Myles Jack, UCLA

R2P1: WR Corey Coleman, Baylor

R3P2: DT Austin Johnson, Penn State

R4P1: QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

R4P40: CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama

I am very happy with my second round pick in this mock. I’ve been hoping Corey Coleman would fall into my lap, and I’ve nabbed him with the first pick of the second round. Coleman, like Robert Griffin III, attended Baylor. They were one year from playing together, so that fact that they went to the same school may not matter. They’ve publically talked to each other on Twitter, and shouldn’t having trouble getting along with each other. Coleman is another deep threat and spark plug, and would thrive in an offense with RG3.

With my pick in the third round, I selected Austin Johnson out of Penn State. Johnson is a big mauler. He notched 75 tackles last season with Penn State, proving he can stuff the run. When double-teamed, Johnson doesn’t back down. He plays with a high motor and seems to love extra attention from offensive linemen. Johnson won’t be able to sack the quarterback very often, but he can plug the middle, which is something the Browns need. I love Johnson to start the third round.

Ugh.  After really enjoying how well this draft was going, I ran into a wall with this pick. I thought about taking a safety like Jeremy Cash or Jayron Kearse, but they had too many question marks, and weren’t playmakers like the Browns need. There’s plenty of running backs on the board, but none of them fit the Browns’ scheme. Since I’m drafting for the Browns, I’ll pull a Browns move by selecting Dak Prescott.

I don’t like Prescott. He’s accurate and mobile, but he’s been beaten up a lot with Mississippi State. His mechanics scare me the most, and he reminds me of another SEC quarterback who wore dark red and was mobile but was questioned about his mechanics and reads in the NFL (Johnny Manziel). Prescott does have a quick release, but his footwork is terrible, and he simply lacks NFL-caliber awareness and decision making. The Browns will always be the Browns, so I could see them taking Prescott even with all these concerns.

The defensive back position is a place where the Browns need help. Cyrus Jones can help compliment Joe Haden as the number two corner, but he may not be ready to start in the NFL quite yet. He’s still a physical corner who thrives in press coverage. Jones is still inexperienced, as he’s only played cornerback since his sophomore season at Alabama. He struggles in man at times as routes progress, and lacks ideal cornerback size. Jones is still a solid pick, and would start as the kick and punt return man in 2016.

The Browns have a chance to have a great draft that can improve their team enough to send them close to eight wins. The joy in the hearts of Browns fans when week 17 closes with an 8-8 finish would be greater than anything Browns fans have experienced in a long time. With Hue Jackson at head coach, and with a good draft, there’s no reason why Cleveland can’t be at least average next season.

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