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Analyzing the Cleveland Browns’ picks in Nick Farabaugh’s latest 4-round 2021 NFL mock Draft

Who is the leading candidate for the Cleveland Browns general manager job?
Photo: USA Today

There are still 280 days until the 2021 NFL Draft, but it’s never too early for a Cleveland Browns 2021 mock draft review. Pro Football Network’s own Nick Farabaugh released a four-round mock this past week, so let’s take a look at how the Browns made out.

Analyzing the Cleveland Browns’ picks in Nick Farabaugh’s latest 4-round 2021 NFL mock Draft

In this simulation, the Browns own the 16th overall selection. This puts them right in the middle of the league, and that’s a pretty fair assumption to make until the team proves otherwise. Head coach Kevin Stefanski is quoted as saying “if you don’t beat yourself, you go 8-8”. Browns fans know better than anyone how devastating self-inflicted mistakes become.

With that said, let’s go pick-by-pick, analyzing each selection Cleveland made, and look at two other players who could be under consideration at each spot.

Round 1, Pick 16 – Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

I mentioned Wade in an early scouting report published this month, so it’s easy for me to love this pick. Wade is a versatile defensive back who has played in the slot, outside, and back deep. With Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette both in the NFL, Wade will be moving outside full-time this season, and his draft stock should significantly increase if he shows he can keep up his level of play there.

Wade has all the physical tools needed to be an elite player in the NFL, and has an extremely impressive feel for zone coverage already, something that is rare in players at his age. The Browns don’t have a long-term solution at slot cornerback, and Denzel Ward is really the only CB on the roster who can be counted on as a secondary cornerstone. Wade would be able to start immediately inside, and rotate back to safety when needed, which defensive coordinator Joe Woods would absolutely love.

Alternative 1: Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

The Browns have a great 1-2 punch at receiver with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, but it’s unknown how long both will be on the team. With Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward approaching massive extensions, and Myles Garrett having just signed his, the Browns are going to eventually make some difficult financial decisions, and one of those is likely going to be moving on from one of the receivers. Replacing Landry, for example, with a dynamic rookie like Smith would be smart. He’s explosive and a very good router runner, and with Jerry Jeudy now in the NFL, he is primed for a huge season.

Alternative 2: Patrick Jones, EDGE, Pittsburgh

Olivier Vernon’s contract was restricted recently, and the changes essentially make it impossible for him to be released this year. However, this is the final year of his contract, and the Browns don’t have a long-term solution at EDGE outside of Myles Garrett. Jones had 8.5 sack and 11.5 tackles for loss in 2019, and should have a big 2020. Pairing Garrett with a cheap rookie for five years would give the Browns added financial flexibility elsewhere.

Round 2, Pick 48 – Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest

WR is addressed here with Surratt. He caught 65 passes for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and his 6’3″ 215 pound frame would give the Browns a big target on the outside, something they currently don’t have. Surratt will be 23 at the time of draft, so perhaps Cleveland will favor one of the younger receiver prospects over him, and it will be another excellent class at the position.

Alternative 1: Christian Barmore, DT, Alabama

The Browns took Jordan Elliott in the third round this year, but they will likely be in the market for another defensive tackle next year. Sheldon Richardson will likely be released to save cap space, and both Larry Ogunjobi and Andrew Billings will be free agents after the season. Baremore didn’t see a ton of snaps, but he was incredibly productive as a pass-rusher when he was on the field.

Alternative 2: Trey Smith, G, Tennessee

Cleveland made upgrading the offensive line their top priority this offseason, and the group is set to be one of the league’s best. Right guard is the weakest link, with Chris Hubbard, Wyatt Teller, and Drew Forbes competition for the starting job. One of those three should end up being a solid player, but that doesn’t happen, Smith would be the final piece on the line. He dealt with blood clots in his lungs last year but is a dominant player when he’s healthy and conditioned.

Rounds 3 and 4 are next, and the Browns have an extra third-rounder this year as a result of a trade.

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