The Browns may or may not need a defensive end, considering what happens in free agency and Olivier Vernon’s status with the franchise. At least not in the first four picks. With the first and one third-round pick (probably CLE’s) going to offensive lineman, that leaves the other third and the second to fill some other holes. Who goes where will come down to who the franchise wants and how they value those players.
Will a defensive lineman be so unavoidable that they target that position in the second round? Will a tight end be so much more impactful in the second round, that the Browns give up on a coveted defensive lineman because the tight end has more immediate impact value for his position? That’s really the question that needs to be asked; what position of need will have the player who shows the most potential?
So it’s completely likely that the defensive lineman isn’t picked until the Browns 4th selection of the Draft. It makes the most sense to go tackle, as the interior was terrible at times. Especially when Myles Garrett wasn’t there to get double team attention. With Garrett off the field for who-knows-how-long, that means you need to get guys who can provide pressure and depth so that the linebackers (whoever they end up being) can actually meet the offense at the line of scrimmage.
Part of the issue with analytics is that they don’t measure everything, because how can it? How can you determine a linebacker’s efficacy with tackling when you don’t have lineman who can shed blocks to allow linebackers to get depth. When the defensive line is getting blocked into linebackers, you have a problem. That’s something that happened too much last year. If it wasn’t for Joe Schobert, the team may have looked even worse on defense.
Improving the defensive tackles would help the linebackers get depth, that way the team isn’t making tackles 4-5 yards off the of scrimmage so often. A defensive end could be selected here too, but a tackle is more needed to not just improve the line, but the play of the linebackers as well.