The Cleveland Browns would have a problem should all the quarterbacks come off the board before the No. 12 pick. Should that happen, who should they draft?
The Cleveland Browns have the No. 1 and No. 12 overall picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Questions arise over what exactly the Browns should do at No. 12. Some say take a quarterback, maybe Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, while others say take the best available player.
To answer these pressing questions, I have begun a series of mock drafts designed to address a range of different scenarios the Browns may face based on what the draft experts are predicting. So far, the trend has been to give the Browns a quarterback at No. 12.
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This week’s edition of mock draft scenarios will address the question of what the Browns should do if the “Big 3” quarterbacks – Watson, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer – are all off the board. As fuel for the fodder, I will use NFLDraftScout.com’s Dane Brugler’s most recent mock draft.
With the first overall pick, Dane Brugler has the Browns selecting Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett. This should come as no surprise as Garrett is considered the best prospect in the draft. If the Browns play it smart here, then the rest of the quarterbacks must come off the board before pick No. 12.
Let’s see how Brugler plays this out:
2. San Francisco 49ers select Mitch Trubisky, QB North Carolina
3. Chicago Bears select DeShone Kizer, QB Notre Dame
4. Jacksonville Jaguars select Jonathan Allen, DL Alabama
5. Tennessee Titans select Jamal Adams, S LSU
6. New York Jets select Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio State
7. Los Angeles Chargers select Malik Hooker, FS Ohio State
8. Carolina Panthers select Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
11. New Orleans Saints select Solomon Thomas, DL Stanford
Interestingly, four of the first ten picks come from the offensive side of the ball. With San Francisco, Chicago, and Buffalo all taking quarterbacks, none are left on the board come the Browns pick at No. 12.
Another interesting development is the selection of Leonard Fournette at No. 8 to the Carolina Panthers. They may be in the market for a running back at that point. But why pass up Dalvin Cook who is a better overall running back? Fournette is a mainly straight line runner who was not used as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Cook is the more rounded back who played behind a worse offensive line but still put up great numbers.
At No. 12 overall, the Browns have a lot of options in front of them. With quarterbacks off the board as well as the two major safety options, it looks as if the Browns may have missed their opportunity to improve the backend defense with a major game changer.
Here is a look at a few possibilities this draft scenario may present.
The Browns could select Mike Williams, WR Clemson. Williams would be a great pick to add to the wide receiver room. With Terrelle Pryor heading into free agency and a deal still not in place, the Browns may have to franchise tag Pryor. At that point, he is on a one-year-prove-it contract. Should he fail to prove it, having Mike Williams already on the field would allow the Browns to let him walk. It would also provide another young weapon for the Browns quarterbacks. However, should Pryor sign, picking a wide receiver here may not make sense.
The Browns could select Dalvin Cook, RB Florida State. This makes sense considering Isaiah Crowell’s contract status. He is a restricted free agent which would allow the Browns to match any offer. If the Browns tender a second-round qualifying offer to Crowell and a team offers him a contract at that level, the Browns could simply let him walk. They would receive a second-round pick in return. In addition, they could draft Dalvin Cook and immediately upgrade the position. This sounds like a win-win scenario for the Browns.
If the reaction right now is to be upset that Crowell is a good player and the Browns should keep him, then I would recommend studying how the New England Patriots operate. Crowell is a player with off-field issues along with balance and vision issues on the field. His contract negotiations with the team have stalled. His value is currently high. If they can get a second-round pick for an undrafted free agent, they should jump all over the deal. This option is probably the best-case scenario for the Browns. However, should Crowell sign, drafting the top ranked running back would not make sense.
The scenario Dane Brugler provides has the Browns taking Florida’s Jalen “Teez” Tabor. Brugler makes the following case for Tabor:
The Browns’ secondary was routinely torched this past season and needs upgrades across the board. Tabor has the size, aggressiveness and cover instincts to disrupt the catch point and create turnovers.
Drafting a cornerback would greatly help the secondary, which needs a lot of help. The Browns could address this need via free agency this offseason. If they do address the cornerback position in free agency, there is another scenario that could play out.
The next scenario considered is the option of drafting a tight end. Pro Football Focus rates O.J. Howard, TE Alabama, as the best tight end in the draft. The advantage of Howard is that he comes out of an Alabama program that prepares tight ends to both block and receive at the NFL level. The Browns offense needs a good blocking tight end that is also a receiving threat. A good dual-threat tight end will help open the run game through effective blocking and as a deep seam threat.
The final scenario has the Browns picking Malik McDowell, DL Michigan State. If the Browns go this route, they would be doubling down on the defensive line. McDowell would be a great three-technique lineman in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense. He is solid against the run and disruptive as a pass rusher for a defensive interior lineman. He has the versatility to move outside to rush if needed. Making this pick puts the Browns all-in on the defensive line.
All players mentioned here (Tabor, Cook, Howard, McDowell and Williams) represent the best prospects at their position per Pro Football Focus. The Browns will be getting a player who can contribute immediately. The player taken at No. 12 overall in this scenario will probably be determined by how contract negotiations play out.