Browns 2016 Draft Preview

The NFL Draft kicks off tomorrow night in Chicago and the Browns will be on the clock with the eighth overall pick. Cleveland traded out of the number two pick last week in exchange for the Philadelphia Eagles number 8, 77, and 100 overall picks this year as well as their 2017 first round-pick and 2018 second-round pick. The Browns decided against taking a potential franchise quarterback with the number two pick in either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. I thought it was a great move as Sashi Brown and Co. as they added to their already loaded arsenal of draft picks. Brown stated this week that he knows who he will pick tomorrow night and that he has a backup plan to trade down if his guy isn’t there. I will give you the players that I think the Browns will select in either situation, as well as my prediction for their second round pick.

Browns Stand Pat at Number Eight

Elliott was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week for his performance Saturday; his 274 rushing yards ranks second in Ohio State single-game history behind only Eddie George’s 314 (1995).
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

Sashi Brown said that the Browns are “locked in” on a player for the number eight pick. There a few options at this spot if some of the players fall, such as  defensive end, Joey Bosa of Ohio State, offensive tackle, Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss, and defensive end, DeForest Buckner of Oregon. Cleveland’s signing of Robert Griffin III was great, but they need to surround him with play makers. A great start to this approach would be running back, Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State. Zeke is the total package for a running back as he can run, catch, and block. He also has explosive speed and raw power that can change the game instantly. Elliott excelled at Ohio State rushing for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns in his sophomore season, while leading the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2014. Browns running backs, Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson have shown some potential, but they don’t have the complete skill set that Elliott possesses. He is the three down back that Cleveland has needed for years. If Zeke is still on the board at number eight, I would be shocked if the Browns passed up on him.

Browns Trade Down Again

Ole Miss wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell. Photo Credit-Rogelio V. Solis

If Sashi Brown’s guy is gone by pick number eight, expect Cleveland to trade down between the 13 and 15 picks. One of the Browns biggest needs are wide receivers. Cleveland will most likely move on from Josh Gordon after his request for reinstatement was denied by the NFL earlier this month. New head coach, Hue Jackson, loves receivers and I expect the Browns to add a few in this years draft. If Cleveland trades down I think they will take Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss. Over the past few seasons the Browns have had mostly smaller receivers in the absence of Gordon. At 6’2″, Treadwell is not small by any means and he fits the mold of receiver that Jackson craves. He is known for his ability to go up and win contested catches. He is also very reliable when it comes to third down and red zone situations. The one area where Treadwell is weak is that he lacks the speed for deep routes. He often struggles to break past cornerbacks in those type of situations. Despite his lack of deep speed, I think Treadwell would be a great offensive weapon to add alongside RGIII.

Browns Second Round Pick

Photo Credit-Chris Howell | Herald-Times Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Michael Thomas (3) during the Indiana Ohio State football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio Saturday, November 22, 2014. Chris Howell

Cleveland holds the first pick of the second round (32 overall), a pick that was stripped from the New England Patriots as a result of the Deflategate scandal. Like the number eight pick, the Browns have plenty of options at number 32. Even though the Browns signed RGIII, they are still in the market for a quarterback. One option is Michigan State QB and Walsh Jesuit’s own Connor Cook. I think Cleveland is more likely to take him in the third round, but the second round is a possibility. Another option is an offesinve tackle. The Browns are in need of serious offensive line help after the departures of Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz. There are will many solid offensive lineman available, but I think Cleveland will hold off until the later rounds. I think the most likely option at number 32 would be a wide receiver. Like I mentioned earlier, Hue values his receivers and I would love to see the Browns take Michael Thomas from Ohio State. Thomas has great hands and a big frame at 6’3″ and 212 pounds. He has the speed and skill set to be Cleveland’s number one receiver, but he is more likely to start out as the team’s number two option.

 

Lansky’s Bold Prediction

I think the Browns will stay put tomorrow night and select Ezekiel Elliott with the eighth pick. Zeke is a beast and he is the game changing player that Cleveland needs. I also think that the Browns will go receiver with the 32 pick and select Elliott’s college teammate, Michael Thomas.

Cavs-Pistons Round 1 Preview

cavs-pistons

Season Series: Detroit won 3-1
Game 1: Detroit at Cleveland, Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m.
Game 2: Detroit at Cleveland, Wednesday, April 20 at 8 p.m.
Game 3: Cleveland at Detroit, Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m.
Game 4: Cleveland at Detroit, Sunday, April 24 at 8:30 p.m.
Game 5: Detroit at Cleveland, Tuesday, April 26 (if necessary)
Game 6: Cleveland at Detroit, Thursday, April 28 (if necessary)
Game 7: Detroit at Cleveland, Saturday, April 30 (if necessary)

Cavaliers forward, LeBron James. Photo Credit: Erik Drost http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode

Cavaliers forward, LeBron James. Photo Credit: Erik Drost

For the second year in a row, the Cavaliers will open up the playoffs against an old foe. Last year it was the Boston Celtics and this year it is the Detroit Pistons. The Cavs and Pistons had some epic playoff matchups in 2006 and 2007 and now they will renew their rivalry once again. Pistons point guard, Reggie Jackson has already given the Cavaliers some motivation when he was asked about the series. He said “I don’t want to fight Goliath’s homeboy or little brother. I want to fight Goliath.” The Cavs struggled against the Pistons this season dropping 3 out of the four meetings. Despite that fact, Cleveland has playoff experience and this young Detroit team does not. The Pistons are making their first playoff appearance since 2009 when they were swept by LeBron James and the Cavs in the first round. The Cavaliers have gotten into a groove over the last month and are finally looking poised to make a deep postseason run. Cleveland is the better team in this series, but there is one area where Detroit has an advantage, which is rebounding. Andre Drummond is a monster on the boards for the Pistons and he will give Tristan Thompson a tough time. However, Drummond can’t do it all on his own and his teammates must step up if they want to make this series interesting

Key Matchup

Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson dribbles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015 in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The matchup to look for in this series is between point guards Kyrie Irving and Reggie Jackson. Irving has had an up and down season after returning from a knee injury in last year’s NBA Finals. Kyrie has struggled to find his form, but I think that will change now that the playoffs have arrived. He looked great in Monday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks scoring 35 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Kyrie was so encouraged by his performance that he told management that he wanted to play in Wednesday’s finale against the Pistons, but coach Tyronn Lue ultimately opted to rest him. Detroit point guard, Reggie Jackson, is the Pistons only starter that has playoff experience, appearing in 30 postseason games with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jackson missed Detroit’s final two games with an abdominal strain, but he will be ready for game one on Sunday. Jackson averaged 18,8 points and 6.2 assists per game this season. If Jackson stays healthy during the series, this matchup between the two young point guards will be a fun one.

Lansky’s Crazy Stat

LeBron James has never lost a first round playoff series in his career. The King has won 40 of 47 first round games as a member of the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.

Prediction

The Cavs will win this series in 5 games. You could make the case that the Cavaliers sweep the Pistons, but Detroit is a scrappy team and I think they will win game 3 at home at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Cleveland’s playoff experience led by the Big 3 will guide them to victory over their division rivals.