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The Mistake by the Lake is no more, presuming newly acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson pans out. The Cleveland Browns made maybe the biggest trade acquisition of the entire off-season and will now look to build the roster around him.
Entering the draft they do not own a day one pick after the trades but can still find good pieces. Here is how they should look to start their new era:
No Day One Picks
This isn’t as bad as it looks. Cleveland has Amari Cooper and Deshaun Watson, who are presumably better than any first rounder they can get this year. There is no reason to move up unless there is a guy they are truly in love with. They should stand pat and move on to day two.
Round 2, Pick 12: Jaylen Watson, CB, Washington
Round 3, Pick 14: Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
Round 3, Pick 35: Noah Elliss, DL, Idaho
The Browns just locked up Denzel Ward, who is arguably the second best player on their defense. Bolstering the defense would be a great start as the most value on that side of the ball is in the middle rounds.
One way to do that is getting Ward a running mate. Jaylen Watson is a height-weight-speed specimen who thumps in the run game. He is a zone coverage master who carries routes with ease. Seeing as Ward is one of the best, having an equally capable corner on the other side balances out the defensive backfield.
Tindall and Ellis are both players who are made for a hard-nosed front seven. Tindall is a traditional linebacker who plays the run with violence. He attacks and sheds blocks with ease to get to the ball carrier.
Ellis is a nose tackle but plays like a three technique. He is smooth in his rush move transitions and stuffs everything that comes his way. If he can sharpen his technique and keep his weight managed, he will be a starter for the Browns.
Round 4, Pick 13: Michael Maietti, OL, Missouri
Round 6, Pick 23: Joshua Ezeudu, OL, North Carolina
Round 7, Pick 2: Tyree Johnson, Edge, Texas A&M
Round 7, Pick 25: Kemari Averett, TE, Bethune-Cookman
Day three is a going to be a scramble for depth players and role fillers.
Cleveland has to try to replace production in some areas but also protect their newly acquired assets.
Cleveland should target offensive linemen to bolster their depth and create competition. Ezeudu and Maietti are both solid options at the interior like spots. Maietti is a center who is slighter built but plays with poise and intelligence, which makes him more effective. Ezeudu is an athletic guard who can play on either side of the line. He is a great combo blocker who gets to the second level to spring runs. Both players may be depth guys early on but could become starters within a year or two.
As far as further depth, Averett can instantly come in and be a second tight end. He has length and is a long strider. He secures catches with his hands and blocks well enough to be a staple in any system.
Tyree Johnson is a raw athlete that can play either defensive end or stand-up outside linebacker. He has prototype length, making him a prime candidate for a situational pass rusher right now. He will develop into a starter within the next coming year or two, so investing in him now would be smart.
The Browns have a new quarterback and a new outlook. Can they build a team that makes the fan base believe in this team again?