The NFL Combine is this weekend. Some potential draft picks are moving up most lists with nothing more than a Heisman pedigree. Others are sliding down most lists despite doing nothing wrong. The Cleveland Browns have the mixed blessing this year of having a mid-first round pick (17th overall). The true franchise picks will be gone (Bosa, Williams, Gray). They do not need a quarterback for the first time in forever. They are too high to grab a steal or take a risk with a lower round pick like the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to do every year. The middle of this year’s draft is more motile than most. Players this year who have potential are going to need a decent showing at the “Underwear Olympics” in Indianapolis. The following are three defenders, who, if they have a good combine showing, the Browns could feasibly pick.
Christian Wilkins: Defensive Tackle — Clemson
Wilkins is the most athletic defensive lineman in the draft. He was part of the disruptive force that helped Clemson win a National Championship two years ago, and led them to a top-ranked defense again last year. Wilkins was so disruptive, in fact, that he even garnered votes in the Heisman balloting. He is a can stop the run and set the edge in a 3-4 defense and rush the passer in a 4-3. With Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, and Josh Allen going in the top five picks, Wilkins will need his physical gifts to help him stand out. Wilkins could even improve his stock if he has a good effort. He could be there at seventeen to help Larry Ogunjobi on the inside and keep offenses honest with Myles Garrett.
Montez Sweat: Defensive End/ EDGE — Mississippi State
As stated here before, Sweat is an athletic rusher on the end. He can get leverage on a left tackle, yet he is smart enough and quick enough to recover from any mistakes. He may end up replacing or pairing with Frank Clark, depending upon what the Seattle Seahawks want to do with their free agent end. There is a strong possibility the Seahawks may even trade the pick to ensure getting Sweat. Regardless, Sweat is a viable option if he is there at seventeen.
Dexter Lawrence: Defensive Tackle — Clemson
If possible, Lawrence was overshadowed by teammates Wilkins and Edge Rusher Clelin Ferrell, which is like saying the Bugatti was overshadowed by the Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Ferrari. Lawrence is not as athletic as his counterparts, but he might have the most surprisingly unexpected combine measurements among defensive linemen. The Browns could pick either a disruptor in Wilkins or a stuffer in Lawrence and not go wrong. ESPN draft Analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both feel Lawrence will be available for the Browns at seventeen.
However these athletes will fare at the NFL Combine is entirely up to them. Some of these linemen may be motivated to move themselves up a draft already stacked with defensive linemen. These players may be able to differentiate themselves with a great showing. If a free agent defensive lineman is not in general manager John Dorsey’s plans, the draft can provide some solid players in the middle of the first round for the Dawg Pound Defense.