Needs: The Browns have more draft capital than any other team, holding four picks in the first 52 selections. They can go a number of different directions at the top with the first and 12th picks, possibly selecting both Myles Garrett and Mitchell Trubisky inside the top 15.
They would address two of Cleveland’s biggest needs, which include quarterback, defensive end, safety, cornerback and running back.
Picks: First round (1, 12), second round (33, 52), third round (65), fourth round (108), fifth round (145, 175, 181), sixth round (185, 188).
Garrett should be the No. 1 player on Cleveland’s board, but it remains to be seen whether he actually is. Despite the Browns’ desperate need for a quarterback, Garrett is too rare of a talent to pass up with the first pick. He’s a franchise-changing player, similar to the way J.J. Watt changed Houston’s defense. Cleveland needs a dominant pass rusher to pair with Emmanuel Ogbah, and Garrett would be exactly that.
The Browns need to take him with the first overall pick to ensure they have at least one immediate starter from this class. There’s no guarantee Mitchell Trubisky will be one.
Budda Baker, S, Washington
The Browns might have the worst starting safeties in the NFL, which makes that position a huge need in the draft. Baker is undersized, but he’s an absolute playmaker – similar to Tyrann Mathieu, without the litany of turnovers. He can step in right away and cover the slot, as well as a more traditional free safety role as a deep defender.
Baker would bring good versatility to Cleveland’s defense on the back end, while also making big plays around the line of scrimmage. Keep an eye on Baker in the second round because he could very well be the pick at No. 33.
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Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Speaking of Trubisky, he seems to be the quarterback Cleveland has the most interest in. The Browns have worked him out privately, met with him at the Combine and seem to be doing all the necessary work when trying to determine whether a quarterback is the right fit. He’d be a good selection at 12, but not with the first overall pick.
Trubisky is a good fit in Hue Jackson’s system, but he has only one year of starting experience. That’s what gives some pause on him being an elite quarterback prospect. He still needs to learn how to play from under center, which will make his transition to the NFL a bumpy one.
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Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
Mixon won’t be on every team’s draft board due to character concerns, but he’s most likely going to be selected in the first three rounds. The Browns have showed some interest in the Oklahoma running back, which is a key step in the process of determining whether he’s draftable. Cleveland, needing a playmaking running back, should take a chance on Mixon.
Whether it’s with the 33rd pick or the 52nd, the Browns almost have to consider taking him in the second round. He’s a rare talent who’s been compared to Le’Veon Bell for his patience and pass-catching ability, which is some high praise. If he’s put the character issues behind him, he can have success in Cleveland.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
Smith-Schuster isn’t the biggest receiver, and doesn’t have great top-end speed, but there’s just something about him that makes him intriguing as a wideout. He isn’t afraid to go over the middle on in-breaking routes, and his hands are great. He showed that on tape and at the Combine, where he put together a solid performance.
Not to mention, he’s as driven as any player in the draft. He’s an extremely hard worker and can bring some urgency and fire to a huddle. That’s something the Browns could use on offense. He’d pair nicely with Corey Coleman, who’s an explosive playmaker.
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Conley is rising up draft boards a week before the big night, and could easily land in the top 15. If the Browns are wiped out of their quarterbacks at 12, Conley would be a good selection. Joe Haden’s play has fallen off the past two years, and adding depth at cornerback is a must for Cleveland. Conley has the traits to be a No. 1 cornerback, and he’s well groomed, having played three years at Ohio State.
He’s at his best when pressing at the line of scrimmage in man coverage, boasting the size and speed to hang with top-tier receivers. There’s no chance he lasts until the second round, so if the Browns want him, they’ll have to get him in the first.
Willis has a chance to go in Round 1, but his best landing spot is probably early in the second round. The Browns have met with Willis on multiple occasions, so the interest is there. He would fit well as a right defensive end in Cleveland’s scheme, even if it takes Myles Garrett first overall.
Willis should be a Day 2 target for the Browns, especially if they pass on Garrett for Trubisky. He’s nowhere near the player Garrett is, but he’d pair nicely with Ogbah and Carl Nassib.