After going 1-15 in Hue Jackson’s first season as head coach, the Cleveland Browns hold the number one overall pick in arguably the most important draft in franchise history. Executive VP of Football Operations, Sashi Brown, has compiled an impressive amount of capital in the form of draft picks for this year and next year’s draft. Cleveland holds four picks in the first 65 selections with three of them being at the top of the first, second, and third rounds. Coming off the worst season in franchise history, this draft will be a make or break draft for the Browns “Harvard Brain Trust”. Sashi, chief strategy officer, Paul DePodesta, and VP of Player Personnel, Andrew Berry have amassed their vast treasure trove of draft picks from trading down in past drafts by using analytics. This year the trading down comes to an end as this draft class is loaded with elite talent especially on the defensive side of the ball. Cleveland needs help at almost every position and it will be pivotal to their future if they stay put for once to select some cornerstone players. It is crucial that the Browns nail their early picks this year as a part of their rebuild and I will give you my prediction for their top two picks.
- Defensive End
Browns 2017 Draft Picks
- Round 1-No. 1
- Round 1-No. 12
- Round 2-No. 33
- Round 2-No. 52
- Round 3-No. 65
- Round 4-No. 108
- Round 5-No. 145
- Round 5-No. 175
- Round 5-No. 181
- Round 6-No. 185
- Round 6-No. 188
No. 1 Overall-Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M
This pick is a no brainer to me. Myles Garrett is the consensus number one overall pick this year and it’s not even close. Garrett is the elite pass rusher that the Browns have never had and could easily build their defense around. At 6’4″ and 272 pounds, he put up freakish numbers at the NFL Combine by running a 4.64 40 yard dash, a 41.0 inch vertical jump, and 33 reps on the bench press. Garrett’s dominance at Texas A&M speaks for itself as he had 11.5 sacks as a freshman and 19.5 tackles for a loss as a sophomore with 12.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. He battled a knee injury in the beginning of last season but still managed to record 15 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks in eleven games. There has been talk over the last few weeks that the Browns were split on taking Garrett or quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky with the first pick. While I do think Cleveland has legitimate interest in Trubisky with their second pick, I believe that taking him with the first pick would be a reach. Myles Garrett has the potential to be the next JJ Watt and the Browns CANNOT afford to pass on him. The Browns had the second worst rated defense in the NFL last season behind the San Francisco 49ers. Cleveland gave up 2,283 rushing yards last season, which was also the second worst in the league. Adding Garrett would instantly upgrade the Browns’ defense and would see the creation of a dangerous duo on the edge by pairing him with second year defensive end, Emmanuel Ogbah. As talented as Garrett is the one constant criticism that keeps popping up is the question of his motor. It was brought up again last week when Hall of Fame defensive lineman, Warren Sapp called him a “lazy kid that makes four plays a game.” Any questions about Garrett’s effort level will be put to rest when the Browns new defensive coordinator, Greg Williams gets to work with him. Williams is a no-nonsense coach who has a fiery passion for the game and you will be sure he will not let Garrett take any plays off. In my opinion the Browns have a very easy decision to make at number one by taking the best player in this year’s draft. However, if they don’t take Myles Garret at No. 1, the big man from Arlington, Texas has already issued a warning to the Browns in an interview with Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine earlier this month.
“If you don’t draft me No. 1, I will punish your team for the next 10 to 12 years. I’ll knock your QB out of the game every time we play you, and I’ll have to kick the hell out of No. 1, whoever it is.” -Myles Garrett
No. 5 Overall-Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina (PROJECTED TRADE)
For years the Browns have made it an April tradition to trade down in the draft, but this year I predict that they will trade up from the twelfth pick to the fifth spot to take their franchise quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky. A trade at this position with the Tennessee Titans would make sense for multiple reasons. The first being that the Browns have history with the Titans after they traded down with Tennessee last year to select Corey Coleman with the No. 15 pick. The second reason this trade makes sense is that the Titans have their franchise quarterback already in Marcus Mariota and trading down would enable them to select a receiver to pair with him. It is very possible that Trubisky could still be on the board by the time the Browns pick at number twelve, but with another quarterback needy team picking at No. 6 in the New York Jets it may be too risky for the Browns to sit and wait. At 6’2”, Trubisky has the size and arm strength to be a successful starting quarterback, but the main concern that comes with him is the sample size. He started only 13 games at North Carolina after sitting his first two seasons behind three year starter Marquise Williams. Last season, Trubisky ranked fifth in the country with a 68.0 completion percentage while throwing for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns. He also ran for 5 touchdowns and 308 yards. The skills and numbers are there, but the Browns will have to have patience as it will take a season or two for Trubisky to develop. Sitting Trubisky behind Cody Kessler or possibly Brock Osweiler (if he is still on the roster by training camp) would not be a bad thing as he showed his potential after sitting for two years with the Tar Heels. The Mentor native has said it would be a “dream come true” to play for his hometown team, but we have seen the good and bad of this narrative before. Youngstown’s own Bernie Kosar was the last great quarterback the Browns had, while Lakewood native, Brian Hoyer was having a breakout season until he torn his ACL in October 2013. Being named the starting quarterback of the Browns already comes with enough pressure, but being the potential quarterback savior and a Cleveland native comes with enormous expectations. I believe Trubisky can handle the pressure and if the Browns truly believe he is their guy then they should move up to get him.
Lansky’s Final Take
Selecting the draft’s premier edge rusher and arguably the top quarterback in this class with their first two picks would be a monumental success for the Browns. If the Browns take both Garrett and Trubisky as well as addressing their needs at positions such as safety and corner, they will finally be on the right track on this long rebuilding saga.