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Going into the NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns find themselves a few crucial pieces away from being a possible contender. When general manager Andrew Berry took the job, he inherited his predecessor’s successes (wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry and quarterback Baker Mayfield) and failures (a struggling offensive line and crumbling secondary).
So far Berry has done a good job by sprucing up the offensive line with right tackle Jack Conklin and adding pieces to secondary such as defensive backs Andrew Sandejo, Karl Joseph and Kevin Johnson.
The big test comes in the form of the biggest gamble in sports, the first year player draft. With various rumors swirling around including which player at certain positions they’ll take and if they’ll make a deal, this is the time where Berry can distance himself from past regimes.
Left Tackle: Ever since Joe Thomas retired prior to the 2018-2019 season, they’ve missed having a big man to block the quarterback’s blind side. With how crucial this position has become, Cleveland will need to lock it up early.
Linebacker: When linebackers Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey departed from the “#216”, they put serious faith in sophomore linebackers Mack Wilson and Sionne Takitaki. While signing B.J. Goodson wasn’t a bad move, this is a position that needs some addressing.
Safety: While they signed two safeties, Sandejo isn’t a guaranteed starter, and Joseph isn’t a sure thing. Cleveland should look to address this if the right prospect is on the board.
Wide Receiver: After Beckham Jr and Landry, there’s a huge drop off of talent. While the easy answer should be re-signing Rashard Higgins, the draft may be another option. With an abundance of potential receivers in the draft, Cleveland could pick one up in the middle-to-late rounds.
What Could Be Done
Early word has been that Cleveland is in talks to trade down in the first round. Rumored teams include the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. Should they trade down, expect extra picks during Day 2 to be the main focus of their draft.
With the stocks in essential skill positions such as wide receivers and cornerbacks rising, teams will look to take advantage, possibly leading to linebackers falling as a result.
If Cleveland stays put at tenth overall, expect Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas or Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs to be their top names. If Cleveland trades down, Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland will more than likely be the target.
Expect a mix of linebackers and a safety in Day 2, with any other positions coming in Day 3.