The 2018 NFL Draft is just over a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will be kicked off with the Cleveland Browns 2018 NFL Draft profile.
It was another rough year in Cleveland, but this season was capped off with a parade for the imperfect 0-16 season. The Browns had some young talent in 2017, but lacked the veteran experience at a lot of key positions, especially after left tackle Joe Thomas went down. More veterans have already been added to the roster for 2018 as Cleveland has started the offseason already having vastly improved their team.
The offense was the worst in the league, averaging 14.6 points per game. DeShone Kizer was traded to Green Bay after a rough rookie season, and Tyrod Taylor was acquired to, at the very least, be a stop gap quarterback for the Browns. They will also have a new running back as Isaiah Crowell has been replaced by Carlos Hyde via free agency. Duke Johnson will likely continue his role of being a running back and slot receiver.
At wide receiver, fans can get excited about having Josh Gordon, if he can stay on the field. The Browns also acquired Jarvis Landry, who has the most receptions through four seasons to start an NFL career. With Gordon being a threat over the top and Landry being a good possession receiver, Taylor should be salivating over his weapons. Add in David Njoku as a young tight end and the Browns have some solid pieces at the skill positions.
Joe Thomas did decide to retire, and the Hall of Famer will now need to be replaced. He had a great career, but the Browns still have a decent line without him. They could address the tackle spot with one of their many picks in this draft.
Defensively, Cleveland gave up the second most points in the league at 25.6 per game. A lot of the points given up were a result of being on the field so often since the offense struggled to move the ball. They ranked seventh in the league in total rushing yards allowed and 19th in passing yards allowed. If the offense can control the ball more, the defense could see vast improvements in 2018.
On the edge, they have good young pass rushers, including Myles Garrett. The Browns will need to find some defensive tackles after trading Danny Shelton to the Patriots, especially if they plan to continue having a good rush defense.
The linebacker position was disappointing for the Browns in 2017, but it isn’t the biggest need for the Browns to focus on. At corner, T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell were both signed, but more corners might be needed. In Cleveland’s trade with the Packers, the Browns netted Damarious Randall, who will be paired with Jabrill Peppers at safety.
It’s been an active offseason for the Browns, and it will continue to be during the NFL Draft with all of their picks. They have filled some needs through free agency and trades, but can really put the icing on the cake of a nice offseason with a good draft.
Picks and Needs
After all of their offseason trades, the Browns have nine picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Five of those will be in the top 64 picks of the draft, meaning they should be able to get a lot of quality players.
First round (2 picks): 1, 4
Second round (3): 33, 35, 64
Third round (0)
Fourth round (1): 114
Fifth round (1): 150
Sixth round (2): 175, 205
Seventh round (0)
Quarterback – Tyrod Taylor is a good quarterback for the Browns to have right now, but they will want to secure one for the future.
Wide receiver – If the Browns don’t have faith that Josh Gordon can stay on the field, they will need to find a partner for Landry.
Offensive tackle – With the retirement of Joe Thomas, the Browns will have the tough task of replacing a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Defensive tackle – The Browns likely needed defensive tackle help before trading Danny Shelton away, but now it is one of their biggest needs.
Linebacker – While this isn’t a huge need, none of their linebackers were great in 2017.
Cornerback – Carrie and Mitchell were decent signings, but Cleveland needs more corners and possibly some better ones.
The picks in this section are players the Browns could realistically get where they are drafting.
Pick No. 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
This is an odd position for the Browns because they have the fourth pick too. Do they take the quarterback of their choice and see if Barkley falls to four? Do they risk it and take their quarterback and see if the Giants (The Jets couldn’t possibly take a running back with their pick after trading away so much for the third pick, could they?) pass on Barkley to take a quarterback? Barkley is the best player in the class, so he is the target for No. 1, as he reportedly hasn’t been ruled out as being selected by the Browns. Ultimately, it might not matter, as they might get who they want at quarterback at pick four.
Even with Hyde, Barkley could be an option for a team that has made a concerted effort to improve the offense. While Hyde is a solid back, he wanted to stay with the 49ers and they decided to let him walk in order to go with Jerick McKinnon, Joe Williams and Matt Breida at the position for this season.
Other options would be any of the top quarterbacks in the class or Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Pick No. 4: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
What quarterback will the Browns choose? Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen have both allegedly said things about not wanting to play for the Browns. It is possible that neither makes it to pick four anyways. Mayfield is the most accurate quarterback in the class, but, like all quarterbacks in this class, could use a year of maturing before taking over as the starter. He has competitive fire that would love the chance to help turn the Browns around.
Pick No. 33: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Here is the replacement for Joe Thomas. None of the tackles in this class have stood out, which means that the Browns can get a decent one with one of their third-round picks. Williams isn’t the biggest or strongest and does not have the longest arms, but is very athletic for a tackle. He is similar to Garett Bolles from last year’s draft.
Pick No. 35: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Although he was injured in 2017 for a few games, Alexander had a great 2016 season for Louisville. While corner was addressed in free agency, improving the secondary can still be done through the draft. Alexander would be a good player to grab early in round two.
Pick No. 64: Rasheem Green, DT/DE, USC
Green had a great combine and showed he can either play on the edge or the interior. If he adds some weight, he can be a nice fit for Cleveland at defensive tackle after the Shelton trade. His athleticism will allow him to be disruptive in the run game and allow him to stay on the field for pass rushing situations.
The Browns can fill more needs through the draft to wrap up a great offseason. With a good draft and the moves already made, Cleveland should see a big increase in wins from 2017 to 2018.
Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft Profile.