Cleveland Browns draft chatter: Mel Kiper mock 3.0 defies analytics

The Cleveland Browns will pick 10th in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the player often mocked their way goes against what “analytics” suggests.

There will be an NFL Draft April 23 and the Cleveland Browns will pick 10th.  The league will certainly pair down the event into a throwback to the Pete Rozelle days where teams sat in a hotel conference room and turned in their draft cards.

The draft has been a welcomed distraction during the COVID-19 pandemic, as sports fans have a little distraction to keep them entertained. The same’s true of mock drafts…if you weren’t reading t hem before, you’re certainly checking in now.

Perhaps the most famous mockster, Mel Kiper Jr., released the third version of his 2020 mock draft, giving the Cleveland Browns Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton with the 10th pick. The 6-foot-7 behemoth of a man has shot up draft boards since the combine.

Becton would be the second tackle off the board, with Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs being selected two picks earlier.

As noted several times on this website, Becton is not a favorite of analytics. Pro Football Focus didn’t even have him going in their “Analytics Mock Draft,” which only takes into account, well, analytics. In the mock, the PFF authors went so far as to call Becton a “Project.”

Considering this is Paul DePodesta’s show, it seems unlikely the data-driven guru would risk taking a “Project” with the 10th overall pick in the draft. PFF was jokingly referred to as the “Browns’ Bible” during the first reign of analytics. With DePo dictating strategy, you’ve got to think the Browns are buying somewhat into what PFF is publishing.

Speaking of PFF, they’re also out with a new mock draft and have the Becton going fourth to the Giants. The authors clearly point out that they are mocking based on what they believe teams will do.

The fourth pick is currently owned by the Giants and Dave Gettleman picks the players. The GM is said to be of the John Dorsey school–and old school type more reliant on scouting than what a SPARQ score will tell him.

While PFF doesn’t have Becton going in their analytics draft, they’ve got the old school GM burning the fourth overall pick on someone one of their published articles called a “Project.”

Both Kiper and PFF make a big deal of Becton running a 5.1 40-yard dash. While interesting, it’s an odd stat to stick to an offensive lineman. Sure, it’s impressive someone who weighs 368 pounds can run that fast, but unless you’re giving him the ball in space, who cares!?

The tone here may be I’m down on Becton. I’m not. Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas has said that Becton is THE tackle to take. It’s hard to argue with those credentials.  If the Browns do take him, so be it. It’s just intriguing that the analytics show, in the words of Jimmy Haslam, proper “alignment.”

If the Browns were on the clock and Wirfs is gone, Andrew Thomas would be my second selection. He’s played against top-level competition and is probably the player best suited to start at left tackle from Day 1.

Next: 3 names to replace Odell Beckham

There’s still plenty of time to debate this issue, so what do you say? Becton, Thomas, Wirfs or someone else?

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