The Browns started the offseason sprinting out of the gate, announcing the signings of TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, and DT Andrew Billings early in the free agency period. The Browns then proceeded to build depth on the roster, signing QB Case Keenum, LB BJ Goodson, safeties Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo, and DE Adrian Clayborn. They also traded for FB Andy Janovich, one of the best fullbacks in the NFL, and a player who should feature prominently in the Browns offense under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
New general manager Andrew Berry has done an exceptional job so far this offseason, but he still has some work to do in the 2020 NFL Draft. This updated Cleveland Browns 7-round mock draft adds a blend of talent to both sides of the football with an emphasis on retooling the defense. A strong draft on top of a stellar free agency period can put the Browns into playoff contention.
Left Tackle: Jack Conklin was signed to (hopefully) be the answer at right tackle. Time for the long-term solution at left tackle. In an offensive tackle heavy draft, there’s simply no excuse not to come out of the draft without an answer here.
Safety: The Browns did sign two safeties, but neither are signed for long or offer playmaking ability in coverage downfield, something the Browns severely lacked last season. A long-term playmaker or two should be added to continue the overhaul in the Browns’ secondary.
Cornerback/Nickelback: A full-time starter is needed at nickel, a position of weakness from last year. Newly signed CB Kevin Johnson can play nickel, but shouldn’t be the only option there. The Browns also could add another corner to their outside rotation for depth, given that many of their new acquisitions are on one-year deals, and Terrance Mitchell will be a free agent next year.
Linebacker: The Browns lost Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey in free agency. To replace them, the Browns will be relying on second-year players Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki, as well as newly-signed B.J. Goodson. The Browns should look at adding another starting-option to this rotation.
Defensive Tackle: Depth is needed along the defensive front, but the emphasis should be at defensive tackle. Signing Andrew Billings to play opposite of Sheldon Richardson was a wise move, but he’s on a one-year deal, and the Browns need better depth and eventual long-term starters at defensive tackle, given the contract situations of Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson.
Wide Receiver: WR1 and WR2 are set with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and the WR3 will more often than not be one of Austin Hooper or David Njoku, but the Browns could use another option for a true WR3.
Round 1, Pick 10: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The Browns signed Jack Conklin to play right tackle and should keep him there for the time being. So why Tristan Wirfs? I admittedly am not a fan of moving sides for tackles, but Wirfs has experience playing left tackle in college and has the traits to succeed. Out of all of the offensive tackles in this class, Wirfs is the best fit in the Stefanski offense. Under talented OL coach Bill Callahan, Wirfs can be a strong franchise left tackle for a team that’s been missing one since the retirement of future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thomas.
Round 2, Pick 41: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
Winfield is an excellent playmaker in the deep part of the field. He shows off A+ instincts and IQ, which help mitigate his good but not elite athletic ability. Winfield isn’t afraid to come down and play the run either, moving and navigating through traffic to deliver a hit. His past injuries may drop him down boards, but Winfield is a versatile playmaker who will provide a boost to a secondary needing better deep coverage. He’ll give Cleveland a high upside safety duo when paired with Karl Joseph.
Round 3, Pick 74: Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming
Logan Wilson has been one of the fastest-rising players in the draft after his excellent NFL Combine. Coming from a smaller school, Wilson was largely unnoticed until the Combine. He’s a former safety, and that coverage background shows up on his tape in his playmaking in the middle of the field. He’ll provide a valuable boost to the linebacking group in Cleveland that took a few hits in the offseason.
Round 3, Pick 97: James Lynch, DT, Baylor
Continuing with the defensive rebuild, we turn to the Big 12 for the best defensive tackle available. Lynch played at end in Phil Snow’s 3-3-5 scheme at Baylor but will be moving inside to possibly 3-technique, where his heavy hands and balance are better suited. Lynch can rotate in with the Browns defensive line group early and offers good upside as an interior pass rusher as he continues to develop.
Round 4, Pick 115: Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA
Cleveland gets its long-term answer at nickel. Holmes is an impressive athlete with good aggressiveness in coverage and solid ball skills. He’s one of the chippiest corners in this draft, but his size will push him inside to nickel. He’s a high-upside, low(ish)-floor pick due to his poor transitions and play recognition. However, Joe Woods has an impressive coaching history with defensive backs, and this gamble would pay off in a big way with Woods at the helm.
Round 6, Pick 187: Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss
Watkins was one of five wide receivers to run a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and came in second behind Henry Ruggs with an official 4.35. That speed shows up on tape, giving Watkins an elite trait to hang his hat on. He tracks the deep ball well and does a good job of plucking the ball out of the air and contorting his body. Watkins needs refinement in his route-running, releases against press coverage, and physical development. Still, right away, he is an elite vertical threat with inside/outside versatility and offers special teams ability as well.
Round 7, Pick 244: Parnell Motley, CB, Oklahoma
Motley has excellent length and playmaking ability at the corner spot and is coming off the best year of his career. The Sooner ranks fifth in Oklahoma history with 33 career pass breakups. He shined in the East-West Shrine game and shut down Senior Bowl standout Denzel Mims twice, as well as LSU’s Jamarr Chase. Motley only had one real year of development at the collegiate level, and he has all the tools to succeed with proper coaching at the next level. In Cleveland, Motley can be a rotational piece at cornerback with the ability to develop into a more significant role over time.