For the first time in recent history, the Cleveland Browns have traded their first round draft pick, and it made sense. That pick was parlayed with the third round pick and potential All-Pro safety Jabrill Peppers in a trade for All-Universe wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
For those fans who have not had the complete “Old Browns” transfusion yet, and are panicking over the loss of the No. 17 pick, there are some very talented players, both on offense and defense, who could contribute, even impact, the roster next season.
Defense is still a priority. General manager John Dorsey has built up the “front four”, yet the defensive backfield should be his next priority. Two defensive backs the Browns should keep an eye on are Rock Ya-Sin, from Temple, and Justin Layne, from Michigan State. Ya-Sin’s talents have already been lauded here in a previous article. Justin Layne is an interesting pick, if he is still available. The converted receiver is tall and lanky at 6’ 3” and 185 lbs., yet has retained most of his ball skills. He does not have the mobility to recover quickly or cover much area in a zone package, but he is strong and does well even against faster receivers in man or combo coverage. Layne has done well against some of the pass-catchers who are with him in this draft, mostly Ohio State players.
…and, of course, he is from Cleveland, and his dad is a huge Browns fan…
Dorsey should not ignore the linebacker position, either. Two Southeast Conference and one Atlantic Coast Conference tacklers are worth considering at Number Forty-Nine. D’Andre Walker (6’ 2”, 251) came on later in his career at Georgia, yet was a healthy contributor when he was given the opportunity. As a senior, and he led the team with eleven tackles for loss and seven-and-a-half sacks among his forty-five tackles in thirteen starts. He is akin to Dwight Freeney and Dee Ford, an undersized edge rusher who has a low center of gravity and a quick first step. Another SEC linebacker is Christian Miller (6’ 3”, 247) from the National Champion Alabama. Miller is the son of former NFL linebacker Corey Miller, and has inherited some of his athleticism. Miller is long and lanky, but, unlike Layne, has grown into his frame. Miller had a phenomenal vertical jump at 38.5 inches, and a broad jump at 118 inches, but did not participate in the other drills. He might be a (pardon the pun) leap for the Browns and other teams; however, his athleticism could land him a fourth-down/ package spot on a team. North Carolina State’s Germaine Pratt (6’ 2”, 240) has versatile athleticism at the linebacker position. He started as a free safety, moving closer to the line after his freshman year, which is analogous to moving up two weight classes in boxing. He handled the transition very well. His senior year, he earned first-team All-ACC honors by racking up 104 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, and tying for the team lead with six sacks despite limited playing time. Pratt’s biggest drawback is that his athleticism covers many of his mental mistakes, understandable considering he has played multiple positions in college.
The only criticism here is there are very few stout, run-stopping Sam linebackers to set the edge from which to choose. However, looking at Dorsey’s track record and the continuing trend of the NFL becoming a “pass-happy” league, a team cannot have too many edge rushers.
On offense, despite acquiring OBJ, Dorsey would be foolish not to consider stealing a receiver. Fortunately, the wideouts are the same as mentioned before here at Big Sports Bulletin. Arizona State’s N’Keal Henry and Clemson’s Deebo Samuel remain attainable in the second round. It is an unfortunate bear market for receivers this year; only two (D. K. Metcalf and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown) are projected first-rounders. The receiver raising his stock the most in this draft was Ohio State pass-catcher Parris Campbell (6’ 0”, 205) after wowing the scouts with a 4.31 forty-yard dash. If any of these players are available, Dorsey would further add to his legacy by drafting one of them underneath OBJ.
Browns fans can finally rest easy on Day One of the NFL Draft. Hardcore fans will watch, but not with bated breath like in the past. Browns fans who have grown accustomed to loving picks over players can breathe a sigh of relief. If the new mantra in Cleveland is “In Dorsey, We Trust”, then Browns fans should feel confident that whomever he picks will be the right player for the right need at the right time.