With the departure of Sheldon Richardson and the signing of Jadeveon Clowney, it appears the Browns have all but tipped their hand for the upcoming NFL Draft. Before, it was almost assured that Cleveland would take one of the many defensive ends that were peppered throughout the draft, but the signing of Clowney and the re-signing of Porter Gustin has all but ended discussion of that happening.
If a big enough name falls to them at the 26th pick, sure, it could still happen but the player would need to be a stud who falls to them; not someone who’s projected to still be there.
It’s unlikely the Browns go corner or safety in the first round due to the big signings the team made in free agency, as well as decisions still to make about several team free agents. So if defensive end, corner, and safety have already been addressed, what’s left?
Well, if Zaven Collins is still there when the Browns are drafting, he makes all the sense. He’s a good rusher who can cover in space; exactly what the Browns need.
Yet, the Browns have gone two full offseasons without investing any money in the linebacking corp, so why would they invest a first-round pick? Yes, I could easily see a second-day pick going to the position but not the first-round pick.
That takes us back to the defensive line. The Browns lost not one but two starting defensive tackles this offseason, and while they did sign Malik Jackson to help replace that loss, the fact is Jackson is 31 years old, and the other man looking to compete for the starting position, Andrew Billings, wasn’t deemed good enough by the terrible Bengals to warrant a second contract. The other name who could be vying for a starting position is Browns’ second-year player, Jordan Elliot. Elliot was abysmal for Cleveland last year as a rookie.
This is not a confident crop of guys to go into the season with. Billings has already missed two full years due to various reasons, and ask Le’Veon Bell how easy it is to return to form after taking a year off.
Unless specific players drop, it seems very likely that the Browns will draft a defensive tackle this year. That is unless they keep making moves and trades before and during the draft. Then all bets are off.