The 2019 NFL Draft is now under a week away. Teams are busily finalising their draft boards ready for the three-day football extravaganza (without any actual football being played). Ninety-Nine Yards also has their eyes on the draft and I’ll be previewing the draft needs of every AFC North team. You can catch up with our previous previews here:
Next up, the Cleveland Browns. Led by rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, exciting play calling from new Head Coach Freddie Kitchens and some impressive young defenders the Browns were within touching distance of the Playoffs.
QB Tyrod Taylor (Chargers)
RG Kevin Zeitler (Traded to the Giants)
TE Darren Fells (Texans)
WR Breshad Perriman (Buccaneers)
WR Ricardo Louis (Dolphins)
DL Emmanuel Ogbah (Traded to the Chiefs)
CB E.J. Gaines CB (Bills)
CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Texans)
S Jabrill Peppers (Traded to the Giants)
Re-signed FB Orson Charles (1 year, $805,000)
Re-signed DT Carl Davis (1 year, $2 million)
Re-signed ILB Ray-Ray Armstrong (1 year, $1.55 million)
Re-signed CB Phillip Gaines (1 year, $895,000)
Signed QB Garrett Gilbert (2 year, $1.38 million)
Signed G Eric Kush (2 years, $3.75 million)
Signed RT Kendall Lamm (2 years, $4.5 million)
Signed RB Kareem Hunt (1 year, $1.1 million)
Signed TE Demetrius Harris (2 years, $6 million)
Traded for WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Signed DT Sheldon Richardson (3 years, $37 million)
Traded for DE Olivier Vernon
Signed ILB Adarius Taylor (2 years, $5 million)
Signed S Morgan Burnett ( 2 years, $7.5 million)
Traded for S Eric Murray
Free Agency Summary
Dog Pound rejoice! Cleveland were one of the most active teams this off season. The approach to talent acquisition is in stark contrast to their divisional opponents the Steelers. Browns GM netted one of the NFL’s marquee players when he traded for Odell Beckham Jr. They also added veteran pass rusher Olivier Vernon and safety Eric Murray through trades.An exciting young quarterback with some great pieces in place have turned Cleveland into a desirable free agent destination. No doubt the additions of Beckham Jr. and Vernon helped but they were able sign stars like Richardson and Hunt whilst also improving their depth significantly.The team already has Zeitler’s replacement on the roster and Peppers never quite justified his loft draft position, so whilst losing these two will have an affect it will be minimal. The majority of the other exiting free agents have been replaced with new additions.
2019 Draft Picks
The Browns do have eight picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. The trade of a first-round pick for Beckham Jr. is regarded as a win for Cleveland but does hurt their ability to add impact players. However, with a pick in every round, including three in the fifth) they do have some ammunition to trade actively.
Round 2, Pick 49
Round 3, Pick 80
Round 4, Pick 119
Round 5, Pick 144 (Jaguars’ pick via Carlos Hyde trade)
Round 5, Pick 155
Round 5, Pick 170 (Patriots’ pick via Josh Gordon trade).
Round 6, Pick 189
Round 7, pick 221 (Jaguars’ pick via Cody Kessler trade)
Positions To Be Addressed in The Draft
Adding another starter opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward is likely to be a priority for the Browns. Terrance Mitchell is returning from injury and competition at the position would only improve the team. Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin would be a fantastic signing for the Browns and would likely start from day one. Ya-Sin is a polished player who boosted his stock at the Senior Bowl but a player who flashes raw skills and has ideal size is Vanderbilt corner, Joejuan Williams.
If the Browns wait until later in the draft Sean Bunting from Central Michigan is a guy with impressive hands who surprised some people at the combine.
The Browns released Jamie Collins and, Joe Schobert aside, have no stand out players here. Alabama’s Mack Wilson is exceptional in coverage and plays downhill football with controlled aggression. Later round targets for Cleveland could include David Long, West Virginia’s versatile linebacker could provide support at multiple positions.
OLB Terrill Hanks (@elev8yourgame) has high-end tools. Showed-off his short-stroke pop on this play in the #seniorbowl. A lowly-rated 2-star out of HS…a lot of FBS schools between his hometown of Miami and @NMStateFootball passed on him. Should be a Day 2 pick. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/RcLva619dr
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 21, 2019
One of my favourite small school players would also be a good fit for the dog pound faithful. Terrill Hanks is an impressive 242 pound wrecking ball who would become a Browns hero.
Here’s where I throw a curve ball. The Browns would be smart to take advantage of a deep defensive line class and target Mississippi State’s defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. Simmons may well fall out of the first round because of a torn ACL and off-the-field issues. However, he flashes the elite mobility and an impressive first step. I float his name also because of Dorsey’s willingness to overlook red flags. If he’s available at the start of the second he’d be very attractive as a target for Cleveland to move up.Terry Beckner, a junior from Missouri, would add to the Browns already imposing defensive front. He’s a developmental player who likely to be available late in day 2 but could help out in a situational role. Daniel Wise from Kansas is a late round target who played both interior defensive tackle and 3-4 edge rusher.
Tackle is a position the Browns addressed in the off season, re-signing Greg Robinson and adding Kendall Lamm. Adding depth and competition in round 3 or later would allow the Browns to groom an eventual successor there. Dennis Daley from South Carolina faced some impressive pass rushers in the ACC and could develop into a starter for the Browns over time. Alternatively Mitch Hyatt is an athletic tackle from Clemson who needs to add to his frame for the pro game.One player whose draft stock has plummeted due to off field issues (he fell out with the coaching staff) is Tyler Roemer. He flashes potential and could be a steal if properly motivated.
With a no glaring holes the Browns can afford to pick players that can compete whilst adding value. There’s no reason for them to reach and they’re not scrambling around to find their quarterback of the future. A solid draft would likely solidify the Browns as AFC North favourites heading into the season.Enjoy this article? Feel free to leave a comment or follow more of my writing on Twitter @Cumbleton. I write about the AFC North for Ninety Nine Yards, covering the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, and Steelers.