(Fox Sports Ohio’s Fred Greetham will do a mock draft every Thursday up until the draft takes place on Thurs. May 8. We will take a stab at prognosticating the first 26 picks since the Browns currently own the 4th and 26th picks in the first round. For a bonus feature, we will also list who the Browns might take in the second-round — 35th overall)
With nearly two months before the draft takes place and the entire free agency period, much will change, but here’s how we see it now. With most of free agency already having taking place, some of the needs of the teams have changed. Our Top 10 has several changes, including the top spot.
The Browns free agency efforts thus far have yielded three defensive players and four on offense. The big money for the Browns thus far has spent on the defense in safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Karlos Dansby, thus bolstering the thought at this point they will focus on offense in the draft.
By dropping quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, it is apparent the Browns are going to add one or two quarterbacks. Mike Pettine said this week at the NFL owners meetings that the Browns don’t have to draft a quarterback at the top.
"It’s a position that’s important for us and we are putting a lot of work into it," Pettine said. "The 4th pick, I think there’s going to be some outstanding players available. But I also think we are in a position, given where the roster right now, that if that best player is a quarterback, we’re in a position to take him.
"And if it’s not, I think it’s a deep enough class that we could pursue that option later in the draft."
Whether that’s fact or fiction will come to light in the next six weeks. However, for now, we’re still sticking with Sammy Watkins as the Browns first pick. However, we’ve changed the next two Browns picks to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater landig with the Browns with their second pick, either via trade up or with their 26th pick.
The Browns have shown that they were interested in a cornerback as they have tried to trade for CB Darrelle Revis and were interested in Dominque-Rodgers Cromartie as a free agent before he signed with the Giants. We have them taking the best one available at the top of the second round and have Jason Verrett slotted for the Browns.
Pettine was asked about drafting a starting caliber this past week.
"I don’t think that’s necessarily the case that we have to draft a starter," Pettine said. "I think this is a good corner draft, so there are some guys. I think it’s a deep draft in all positions, and I think a lot of people have realized that, and as they kind of start to slot guys, they realize there’s a lot more guys with first-round grades then first-round slots. That’s one of the things that we’re most excited about, that we’re bringing that many picks to a deep draft.
"Corner’s a position that’s always been very important for our system going back to when Rex (Ryan) and I were in Baltimore taking it to New York and have the ability a guy like Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and going to Buffalo where you have a McKelvin and a Gilmore. When you have those guys that can really lock down the outside and play press man and really play nine on nine against everybody else, that’s important. That’s why we’re thrilled to have Joe [Haden]. If the opportunity presents itself for us to grab a corner, then I’ll more than likely be on the table for it."
1. TEXANS– Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
2. RAMS– Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
3. JAGUARS–Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
4. BROWNS– SAMMY WATKINS, WR, Clemson– For the fourth week in a row, we still have the Browns adding the best play making WR opposite of Josh Gordon to give team immediate game breaking weapons. Rather than take a QB they don’t feel is the ‘franchise’ guy, they add a big weapon for Brian Hoyer. This also adds insurance in case of a Gordon mishap along the way. However, more and more of the experts are now projecting Watkins to go before four.
5. RAIDERS– Jake Matthews, OT, Texans A & M
6. FALCONS– Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
7. BUCCANEERS– Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
8. VIKINGS– Johnny Manziel, QB
9. BILLS– Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
10. LIONS– Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
11. TITANS– Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
12. GIANTS– Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
13. RAMS– Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
14. BEARS– Timmy Jernigan, NT, Florida State
15. STEELERS– Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
16. COWBOYS– Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
17. RAVENS– Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
18, JETS– Marqise Lee, WR, USC
19. DOLPHINS– Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
20. CARDINALS– Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
21. PACKERS– C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama
22. EAGLES– Kyle Fuller, CB Virginia Tech
23. CHIEFS– Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
24. BENGALS– Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
25. CHARGERS– Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
26. BROWNS– TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, QB, Louisville– After the Vikiings pick at eight, there is an argument that none of the teams until the Browns pick at 26 are in need of a quarterback, other than possibly the Titans at 11. If the Vikings take a quarterback, the other two of the three (Manziel, Bridgewater and QB Derek Carr might be available to them at 26. If not, they might trade up to get one that they didn’t have graded high enough to take at four, but still in the first round. We’ll see how much an impact Bridgewater’s Pro Day had on is draft status.
35. JASON VERRETT, CB, TCU–Pettine indicated that there were more first-round graded players than positions and the Browns might be able to find a starting cornerback at the top of the second-round. If they feel there isn’t going to be one still available, they might choose to grab one at 26 and take the quarterback at 35.
Sleeper pick at 35: RYAN SHAZIER, ILB, OHIO STATE— Shazier would give the Browns competition and depth to go with ILB Karlos Dansby and ILB Craig Robertson.The signing of RB Ben Tate and OL Paul McQuistan likely will take the Browns out of taking a running back or offensive lineman with one of their first three picks. However, look for them to add a back sometime in the draft and possibly another offensive lineman.