The Browns Looking at Local Talent in Draft

Players from Mid-American Conference, Ohio State could fill legitimate roster spots

Credit: @andy_isabella23 Instagram

The Cleveland Browns already have their first round draft pick for this season in by trading for Odell Beckham Jr. However, general manager John Dorsey continues to play coy with the press by reiterating he would trade back into the first round “if [he deems] it will help” the team. As unpredictably predictable as Dorsey has been lately, it might behoove the Great Kemo Sabe to stand pat and wait to fill the rest of the roster with solid talent that will undergird a strong starting roster.

The Browns invited thirty-seven local players with some tie — originally from the local area or having attended a local college, to Northeastern Ohio to their Pro Day. By examining some of the invitees, it is clear that the Browns organization has done its homework and is not simply appeasing the homers.

One philosophy player personnel staff take when analyzing the NFL Draft is a team can never have enough good players at one position. While the Browns arguably have the best wide receiver in the league, some mid-draft receivers are worth noting.

Humility and gentile are two qualities that NFL scouts very rarely look for in wide receivers. With talent like Andy Isabella’s, the Browns can use him to balance some of the healthy egos on offense. Isabella, from Mayfield, Ohio, was recruited by The University of Massachusetts for their explosive offense. There, he became a Biletnikoff finalist by hauling in 102 receptions for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Isabella is as charming as he is capable. In a recent interview, he gushed about being a Browns fan growing up, and stated he would love to come home to help him hometown team win a championship.

By the way, he also dusted second year Browns cornerback Denzel Ward in the 100-yard dash at the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Track and Field State Championship Heat in 2015.

University of Kentucky wide out Dorian Baker was medically red-shirted his senior year because of an ankle injury. Before that, he showed flashes of brilliance during 2015 when Kentucky posted a good offensive season. His stats fell off as a fifth year senior, but the Cleveland Heights native might have something to prove with his hometown team.

Ohio State standout Johnnie Dixon is another likely get in the mid rounds for the Browns. Undersized but not underskilled, he was one of the Ohio State players who killed at the NFL Combine. An underneath throw to Dixon is just likely to score as an over-the-top bomb to Beckham or Callaway, and the Browns are definitely interested in that luxury.

The Buckeyes have other capable players the Browns could plug into the roster. Offensive linemen Michael Jordan and Malcolm Pridgeon kept the best quarterback in this draft, Dwayne Haskins, upright and virtually untouched the entire year. Defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones is slipping in the draft only because of the lineman-heavy draft this year, which could end up being a steal for the Browns in the second round, while Dante Booker, an outside linebacker, could bolster the backing corps. Even the automatic kicker Sean Nuernberger could get an invite to push Greg Joseph.

Other interesting wide receiver prospects had a very short commute up Interstate 77. University of Akron player Brandon Mitchell is a wide out on the Browns’ radar. Mitchell is the prototype NFL receiver at 6′ 2″ and 220 lbs. The trouble is he opted out for track his senior year, so his football skill might be rusty at best. Akron tight end Mykel Traylor-Bennett is more of a hybrid receiver. He is listed as 6′ 3″ and 230 lbs. The Reynoldsburg, Ohio star was not a huge factor in the Zips’ offense, but his build is attractive.

For those sleeping on the Zips, do not forget, despite recently getting let go by the university, Terry Bowden was the head coach for the last seven years. He brought legitimacy back to the Zips, winning the MAC East Championship in 2017. Many of those players are still with the team and are NFL ready. The Zips’ defense might be in trouble next year, as defensive end Walter Brady, defensive tackle Brennan Williams, outside linebackers Jamal Davis and Ulysses Gilbert, middle line backer Brian Bell, cornerback Kyron Brown, and free safety Jordan George are all moving on to the NFL and could be valid choices for the Browns in Rounds 2-5.

Other MAC prospects are: WR Cody Thompson from the University of Toledo, T Joe Lowery from Ohio University, whom NFL scouts are very high on, G Kyle Ritz from Akron, C Dakota Tallman from Eastern Michigan, NT Kalil Morris from Kent State, and his teammate, OLB Jim Jones.

From this invitee list, it is obvious that, whether as high school players or attending university in this state, Ohio remains a deep well for football talent. Many armchair general managers habitually question why the Browns do not go after “hometown talent”. This year’s local players seem justifiable enough for Dorsey to pick a few.

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