Browns fans need to be patiens with draft
If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns, be prepared for a long night of watching the first round of the NFL draft.
The Browns have the sixth overall pick, which means they should announce their selection at about 9:30 p.m. That’s assuming they don’t do what many expect and trade down to acquire at least one additional choice.
The forfeiture of a second-round choice in a supplemental draft last year for receiver Josh Gordon has to be driving general manager Mike Lombardi crazy. Lombardi was working for the “NFL Network” when the supplemental draft was held last June. His take at the time was that Gordon wasn’t worth the lost pick.
This year’s draft isn’t loaded with star power at the top, but it’s deep in overall talent. That makes the absence of a second-round choice more difficult to accept for Lombardi, who’s looking for quantity and quality as he tries to make the Browns relevant.
There could be some willing trade partners anxious to move up. Most conjecture has swirled around teams that want one of the elite offensive tackles – Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. Joeckel and Fisher could be top-5 picks, and Johnson has been slotted in the top 10 of many mock drafts.
The Browns might come into play involving a team that wants Johnson. The San Diego Chargers, who pick 11th, have holes on their offensive line and might be willing to make a move. The Miami Dolphins at 12 also could move up.
According to the NFL trade value point chart, the Chargers and Dolphins would have to give up a second-round choice to make the trade work. Not all teams are willing to do that in a draft that will offer up enticing talent in the second round.
If the Browns don’t trade down, likely scenarios would be to address needs at cornerback and the front seven on defense and guard and tight end on offense. Corner makes the most sense simply because it was barely addressed during free agency. The front seven, conversely, has have added linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves, along with end Desmond Bryant.
Someone other than Buster Skrine needs to start opposite Joe Haden at one of the corners. Dee Milliner, while not the prospect Haden was three years ago, might be a safe pick. Considering this is Lombardi’s first draft as GM, he could be inclined to go the safe route.
There is concern with Milliner regarding his health. He’s had multiple surgical procedures, including a recent operation to repair a torn labrum. It never looks good when a team’s first draft pick isn’t ready to practice on day one of training camp.
If Milliner’s value has dropped because of the health issues, it might be smart to look at a pass rusher. There’s no guarantee that Jabaal Sheard will successfully make the move from end to linebacker, and Groves was considered a bust a couple of years ago.
Kruger is coming off a solid season for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, but having Terrell Suggs on the opposite side helped significantly. The Browns don’t have a dominant complementary piece on the other side.
That might change with the selection of LSU outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Mingo’s statistics weren’t off the charts last season, but he was asked to do more than just rush the quarterback. The system being installed by Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton has an attack mentality that should showcase Mingo’s skills.
Barring a trade, look for the Browns to shy away from Milliner because of health reasons and pick Mingo. If they trade down to the middle of the first round, the pick will be Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.