Ladies and gentlemen, welcome one and all to the start of the 2018 Daily Norseman Community Mock Draft! We’re going to run through the entire first round of this year’s NFL Draft, with one pick each day until the real thing kicks off on 26 April.
First up in this year’s selection process, we have the 0-16 Cleveland Browns. Thanks to a trade they made last year, they have to of the top four picks in this year’s Draft, and that’s good. . .because they have plenty of needs.
2017 Record: 0-16 (4th place, AFC North)
CB T.J. Carrie (free agent signing), TE Darren Fells (free agent signing), CB E.J. Gaines (free agent signing), OT Chris Hubbard (free agent signing), RB Carlos Hyde (free agent signing), WR Jarvis Landry (trade with Miami), CB Terrance Mitchell (free agent signing), CB Damarious Randall (trade with Green Bay), DE Chris Smith (free agent signing), OT Donald Stephenson (free agent signing), QB Tyrod Taylor (trade with Buffalo)
RB Isaiah Crowell (signed with New York Jets), QB DeShone Kizer (traded to Green Bay), DB Jason McCourty (traded to New England), DT Danny Shelton (traded to New England), OT Joe Thomas (retirement)
Quarterback - Kizer was the Browns’ starter for the majority of last season, and has now been traded to Green Bay. When you go 0-16, it stands to reason that quarterback is a pretty significant need, and none of the quarterbacks on the Cleveland roster strike any fear into anyone. The only question, in my opinion, should be whether they take one at #1 or #4.
Running back - Crowell was the team’s leading rusher in 2017, and now he’s gone. They really don’t have a lead back at this point, but with so many other needs to fill, how early can they fill this one?
Offensive tackle - They lost Joe Thomas. That leaves a pretty significant gap. The Browns started a rebuild on the offensive line last season, but when you lose someone of Thomas’ caliber, he needs to be replaced.
Cornerback - While the Browns have a pretty solid defense already, the loss of McCourty takes away the guy that was probably their best defensive back in 2017. They have a couple of young guys back there, but they traded away Joe Haden last season and don’t really have a #1 corner at this point.
In my opinion, the Browns almost have to go offense. They had the most anemic offense in the league last season, averaging just 14.6 points/game. They have Taylor to run the show this season, but his contract can be voided after this season. Still, if the Browns were to take a quarterback, they could sit behind Taylor for a season before getting thrown to the proverbial wolves. If the Browns pass on a quarterback here, there’s really only one other player that most mocks have them selecting at this point. So, here are the options for the Browns as I see them:
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming - Allen has all of the physical attributes you want in an elite quarterback, but there are definitely some red flags. He played at a smaller school, and didn’t exactly light it up in his chances against higher competition. Some of that might have been the talent he was surrounded by, but his accuracy numbers from college definitely leave something to be desired. He might be the most “boom or bust” quarterback in this year’s class.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State - Barkley is head and shoulders above the rest of the running back class in this year’s draft, and is drawing comparisons to guys like Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott. Both of those guys have been high draft picks recently, and Barkley has all the tools to be every bit the running back that those two are. He’s not great as a receiver yet, but he’s not awful, either. He could certainly be a foundational piece for the Cleveland offense going forward. Can the Browns get him at #4 if they pass on him at #1, or do they have to take him here?
Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California - There are rumors swirling that Darnold is the apple of Cleveland’s eye right now, as they had a pretty significant contingent at his recent Pro Day. Was only a starter for a year and a half at USC, but has an outstanding arm and above-average mobility. Whoever gets him is going to have to do some work on his delivery, but as stated earlier, the Browns won’t have to play him right away.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma - The Heisman Trophy winner from this past season seems to have more variance as far as people view him than any of the “Top 4” quarterbacks. He doesn’t have prototype size (measuring in at 6’), and does have some character red flags as well. Still, he is incredibly accurate, completing 68.5% of his passes in college, and his improvisational skills are outstanding. Comparisons to Johnny Manziel are inevitable for Mayfield, but that comparison is kind of lazy, in my opinion.
Josh Rosen, QB, California-Los Angeles - Rosen has the dreaded title of “most pro-ready” quarterback in this class, and played in more of a pro-style offense at UCLA. He checks all the boxes you want for a potential franchise guy in terms of size and arm strength. He doesn’t have quite the mobility that seems to be valued at the quarterback position today, but he’s definitely got what it takes to be a successful passer in the NFL.
That’s a look at the Cleveland Browns at the #1 spot in the 2018 NFL Draft. I honestly can’t see them going defense with this pick, or anywhere else other than Barkley or a quarterback. We’ll see the Browns again at #4, and depending on how the first three picks fall they may have some more varied options at that time. But, as things stand right now, that’s where we’re at, in my opinion.
So, who do the virtual Browns take in our Mock Draft, folks? Cast your vote and have at the discussion here!
With the first pick in the 2018 Daily Norseman Community Mock Draft, the Cleveland Browns (should) select _________________
This poll is closed
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA