[Editor’s Note: Version 1.o below was originally published on February 6]
After a busy offseason adding players like Odell Beckham Jr, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, and freeing themselves from Hue Jackson, the Cleveland Browns fell way short of expectations in 2019. The team ultimately crashed and burned with numerous issues and confusing messages from the coaching staff. With a brand new front office led by new General Manager Andrew Berry and new coaching staff under Kevin Stefanski, the Browns are again looking to turn the narrative around and start winning. This Cleveland Browns 7-round mock draft aims to kickstart the Kevin Stefanski era and give the Browns some new life for the future.
The Browns’ splash moves last offseason made a lot of people overlook a few glaring issues on the team, namely just how poor the offensive line was outside of left guard Joel Bitonio and center JC Tretter. The team rotated Eric Kush and Wyatt Teller at right guard in and out of games, with neither looking like the answer. They had no answer for either tackle spot, with Greg Robinson, Chris Hubbard, and Justin McCray (Kendall Lamm looked the best but played only 97 snaps all season) all failing to provide bookend protection for quarterback Baker Mayfield, which stifled production. The team had to cut Antonio Callaway because of multiple discipline issues and then seemed to forget they had Rashard Higgins on the roster.
On the defensive side of the ball, the duo of Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon delivered when they were on the field together, but then the Pittsburgh game happened, and everything went downhill from there. Larry Ogunjobi seemingly fell off a cliff and hasn’t come back to the flashes he showed his rookie year. The safety group was a total mess, and both young star corners Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams missed time with injuries. Only the LB corps was a strength of the defense last year, but mainly because Joe Schobert provided another stellar year.
The Browns needs won’t be solved in one offseason of work, but in this Browns 7-round mock draft, I aim to address to biggest needs and add the best talent on both sides of the ball.
Cleveland Browns 7-round mock draft
Round 1, Pick 10: Tristan Wirfs, OT Iowa
With Stefanski’s shift to a predominantly outside-zone run scheme, it’s important to have a right tackle with the power to seal the edge and the athleticism to climb upfield. Wirfs fits that to a tee, as he might be the strongest offensive tackle I’ve ever scouted, and his athletic ability is the top of this class. He needs some development with his footwork, but his traits paired with new OL coach Bill Callahan should have a lot of fans excited.
Round 2, Pick 42: Kyle Dugger, S Lenoir-Rhyne
Speaking of athletic ability, Kyle Dugger is going to explode at the NFL Combine at the end of the month. His athleticism pops off the tape, which matches the ridiculous reported numbers for Dugger: 4.4 40-yard dash, a vertical of 40 inches and a broad jump of 11 feet (132 inches!) with a 6.7 3-cone. And he’s aiming higher in Indianapolis. With his tape, his phenomenal showing in Mobile, and those testing numbers, Dugger is more likely to go top-50 than not, especially in a lackluster safety class.
Round 3, Pick 74: Ben Bartch, OT St. John’s
The Browns took a right tackle. Now, it’s time to take a left tackle. If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know I’ve been a fan of Bartch throughout the draft process. His excellent showing in Mobile at the Senior Bowl was unsurprising. Fellow PFN Draft analyst Matt Valdovinos had this to say about Bartch from Mobile:
“Ben Bartch has a case to be the biggest riser from this week. He came in a lesser-known, D3 prospect, and left as a prospect who proved he belonged. A legitimate top 100 talent, if not better. Bartch displayed excellent feet this week.”
Bartch is a former tight end, and that athleticism stands out on his tape. His footwork in pass protection is silky smooth. He still has room to develop, but Bartch and Wirfs give Cleveland two bookend tackles for the future.
Round 3, Pick 90: Bradlee Anae, EDGE Utah
I haven’t seen this pick in many mock drafts, but it may actually be my favorite pick in this Browns 7-round mock draft. Anae is one of the most-polished pass rushers that I have ever scouted, which is something I value rather highly. He stood out at the Senior Bowl, both in practice and in the actual game. He doesn’t have a super-high ceiling like a few other pass rushers in this class, but he was the best pick on the board here and makes so much sense for Cleveland.
It’s been confirmed that Joe Woods, the San Francisco DBs coach, will be the Browns’ Defensive Coordinator. He clearly saw the value of loading up on pass rushers in San Francisco. Rotating Anae in with Garrett, Vernon, and Chad Thomas would help give Cleveland depth at a critical position.
Round 4, Pick 105: Davon Hamilton, DT Ohio State
Another defensive line pick here for Cleveland, this one to address the interior of the line. Cleveland finished 30th in rushing defense, giving up an abysmal five yards per attempt. Hamilton should help fix that issue, as he’s an excellent run defender. His deconstruction of blocks, speed-to-power, and hand usage are top-notch. He uses his length (32 7/8″ arms) to his advantage to disrupt and get his hands on running backs even while engaged with his blocker. Hamilton can help give Cleveland another rotational piece to compete with Ogunjobi at the tackle spot opposite of Richardson.
Round 6, Pick 168: Keith Ismael, IOL San Diego State
Ismael is another Senior Bowl standout on this list. I believe Ismael can be a starter at right guard or, at worst, a quality OL depth piece (not a bad thing to have for a sixth-round pick). He has a few lapses in technique, namely on his footwork, but he demonstrated great balance and moved well on tape. Ismael has also played center and both guard spots, adding versatility to his already talented resumé. That versatility will only add more to his value.
Round 7, Pick 222: Aaron Parker, WR Rhode Island
Parker is an interesting last pick and will round out this Browns 7-round mock draft. Parker is a tall possession-style receiver, standing at 6’3. He’s at his best when he can use his length and body control to high point and attack the football in the air. Pro Football Network’s own Andrew DiCecco spoke to him at the East-West Shrine Bowl and confirmed that Parker is looking to run 4.48-4.5 flat at the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Parker would be a quality depth addition to the Browns receiving room this late in the draft.
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