Complete Browns 7-Round Mock Draft for 2014
The Cleveland Browns have 10 picks in this year's NFL draft, including two in the first round, two in the third round and two in the fifth round. That's good news for a team that has undergone yet another coaching and front-office change and with it another change in schemes and philosophy.
The Browns have a strong roster of players both young and old, but they also need to fill a number of positions. With 10 draft picks, the Browns won't be short on options, and if they use their picks correctly, they could find a core of players who fit well with the team's current talent.
Here is a complete, seven-round mock draft for the Browns in 2014.
Round 1, Pick 4: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
The Browns have thus far done a good job of not hinting about who they plan to draft with the fourth overall pick. But one look at the roster tells you that one position is on their minds: quarterback.
The Browns have two on their roster—Brian Hoyer and Alex Tanney—and only Hoyer is in the mix to start. They'll find his competition with their first of two first-round draft picks, taking Teddy Bridgewater fourth overall.
There is much ongoing debate about the best quarterback in this class, but the best one for the Browns is the Louisville star. Bridgewater threw 303 passes in 2013 for 3,970 yards, 31 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2013 and completed 71 percent of his attempts.
His biggest strengths are his poise in the pocket, third-down performance and short- and medium-yardage accuracy. In addition, as Bleacher Report's Ryan Lownes says, he "displays anticipation and shows the ability to throw his receivers open."
Although he's smaller than ideal and sometimes struggles with deep-ball accuracy, Bridgewater is the perfect quarterback for the Browns to bring in and compete with Hoyer. He can certainly sit a year if need be and be ready for 2015; he can also start as a rookie.
He can actually help to stabilize the quarterback position. This is why the team cannot pass on him if he's still available at No. 4.
Round 1, Pick 26: OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
Notre Dame's Zack Martin was a force at left tackle in college, but his size may move him to right tackle or even guard in the NFL, according to Bleacher Report's Alex Dunlap. If that's the case, he'd be perfect for the Browns, who need to replace guard Shawn Lauvao and decide what position would be best for Mitchell Schwartz, last year's starting right tackle.
The "all-around just plain solid" Martin doesn't give up a lot of ground to would-be pass-rushers. His technique is nearly flawless, and his leadership skills and intelligence could make him a Browns lifer, much like current left tackle Joe Thomas.
Martin's small hands and short arms are part of why left tackle might not be in his NFL future, but that won't matter to the Browns, who already have that position taken care of with Thomas.
The more anchors the Browns can have on the line, the better. Whether he's a guard or right tackle, Martin will improve the offensive line significantly from his first snap.
Round 2, Pick 3 (35th Overall): WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
The Browns might not take the quarterback out of Texas A&M this year, but they'll gladly select his top receiver Mike Evans with their second-round pick. He would be a great complement to Josh Gordon and get the Browns out of having to start Greg Little alongside him this year.
Evans has speed, size and great leaping ability, all of which make him one of the best receivers of this year's deep draft class. He caught 69 passes in 2013 for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns while working all parts of the field. As Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal notes, Evans will be "a dangerous weapon after the catch."
With Evans and Gordon, the Browns could have one of the best receiving tandems in football.
He does need to improve as a blocker and a route-runner and learn how to rely less on catching jump balls and being more of a finesse receiver. These are all things he can work on while gaining experience as a first-year starter. Evans has far more strengths than weaknesses. If he's still on the board in the early second round, the Browns should draft him at No. 35 overall.
Round 3, Pick 7 (71st Overall): CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a massive cornerback at 6'3". Corners of his size have become increasingly in high demand after the success of the Seattle Seahawks and their Legion of Boom secondary. He would give the Browns a little of that flavor as well as someone who is finally worthy of being paired up with Joe Haden.
Jean-Baptiste had 41 tackles in 2013, along with 12 passes defensed and four interceptions. "Physically intimidating," and aggressive, according to Bleacher Report's Ian Wharton, the Nebraska corner also has impressive skills, especially in off-man coverage. He can run with receivers, fight for jump balls and is "often able to set the edge" in run plays.
Because of his size, he can look a bit stiff, and he doesn't have a lot of speed, which means, per Wharton, "he needs safety help on most plays." He also needs to improve his tackling form rather than simply lunging at his target. Still, his size is hard to ignore, and his skills are very NFL-ready, although he does need some development.
He's a good fit for the Browns and new head coach Mike Pettine, and he should be available for the team to select him in Round 3.
Round 3, Pick 19 (83rd Overall): ILB Shayne Skov, Stanford
If not for his very serious 2011 knee injury, former Stanford inside linebacker Shayne Skov might be a first-round prospect this year. Nevertheless, he is still a talented player who bounced back from his injury to have a strong 2013 season. He'd be a great fit for Cleveland's aggressive, hybrid-style defense.
He had 109 tackles, including 13 for a loss in 2013. He also had 5.5 sacks and broke up four passes. His football intelligence is impressive, with Bleacher Report's Darren Page saying Skov is a "highly intelligent player who is a step ahead of plays mentally," and that he "diagnoses plays by reading keys, reacts to what he sees faster than most linebackers do."
Skov can blitz, go from working in a coverage situation to make plays on quarterbacks who leave the pocket and handle assignments all over the field. He's not the most fluid athlete, and his tackling form needs improvement, but his aggressiveness and strong instincts make him a good use of the Browns' second third-round pick.
Round 4, Pick 6 (106th Overall): RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
The Browns took one step toward improving their nearly nonexistent run game from 2013 by signing free agent Ben Tate. The next step is to find another back to join him, Dion Lewis and Chris Ogbonnaya in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's run-heavy system.
Though running backs can be found throughout the latter half of the draft considering how low-value the position has become, the Browns can address it with one of their two fourth-round picks. Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey would fit into their group of backs as Tate's change-of-pace partner.
Carey had 1,885 yards and 19 touchdowns on 349 carries in 2013, as well as 26 receptions for 173 yards and a score. He's had 100 or more rushing yards in 16 games over his last two seasons. According to Bleacher Report's Ryan Lownes, he is "fairly elusive, changes speeds well and can make defenders miss in space."
Lownes goes on to cite Carey's "impressive balance," calling him, "a resilient runner who breaks tackles," who gives a lot of effort despite not being the most powerful back. He's also a good blocker and receiver, and he has returned kicks.
He doesn't have great breakaway speed and has some fumbling issues, but he's a good all-around running back who should fare well in Cleveland.
Round 4, Pick 27 (127th Overall): S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
The Browns were able to mitigate the loss of safety T.J. Ward by signing free agent Donte Whitner, but that doesn't mean they have enough depth at strong safety heading into 2014. The team should prioritize the position in the draft by taking Baylor's Ahmad Dixon in the fourth round.
He had 89 tackles in 2013, including 5.5 for a loss, as well as three pass breakups and an interception. He is a "very good athlete who can play in space and also make plays at the line of scrimmage," according to Bleacher Report's Ian Wharton. He has good acceleration and closing speed and willingly makes big hits.
Dixon was once a linebacker and has the coverage skills to prove it. He may not be a good deep defender, but he's strong over the middle of the field in man coverage. He's still raw but has a lot of upside as a safety in the NFL. Learning behind the likes of Whitner should help his development.
Round 5, Pick 5 (145th Overall): WR Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina
The Browns need to expand their roster of wide receivers this year, which means they won't be settling on just one in the draft. This is a deep class of receivers, and the Browns need to find playmakers wherever they can. They could easily add another in Round 5—Coastal Carolina's Matt Hazel.
He had 70 receptions for 990 yards and nine touchdowns this year and shined at the East-West Shrine Game. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler pegs him as a possession receiver in the NFL, and notes that he "works hard after the catch and won't concede yards" and that he has "experience lining up inside and outside, running a full route tree in college."
Hazel is not very physical and may need to add some weight to fight for catches and block effectively in the NFL. Still, his good hands and impressive yearly development in college could be enough to persuade the Browns to use a later-round pick on him.
Round 6, Pick 4 (180th Overall): FB J.C. Copeland, LSU
The Browns will be running the ball more often than they did last year, considering Kyle Shanahan is their new offensive coordinator. What would make the backs' jobs a bit easier is a fullback, a position the Browns haven't employed in some time.
This year, they draft the fullback they've needed in LSU's J.C. Copeland. He isn't much of a running back, with only 25 yards on 13 carries in 2013, but he did score three rushing touchdowns, which is mainly a testament to his power.
He is a former defensive tackle, so it's no wonder that words like "physical force" have been used to describe him, per WalterFootball.com. He'll be quite useful for the Browns' new-look offense; he just needs to keep his weight under control.
Round 7, Pick 3 (218th Overall): G Spencer Long, Nebraska
WalterFootball.com had Nebraska offensive guard Spencer Long as a top-100 draft pick this year prior suffering a torn ACL in October. The injury doesn't make him undraftable, but it does push him down significantly.
That can be a benefit to the Browns. He can sit out if necessary during his rookie season and become a contributing member to their offensive line in his second year. Prior to his injury, he had looked better as a pass protector while continuing to hone his specialty, which is run-blocking.
Long went from a walk-on to a potential first-team All-American before injuring his knee. His leadership skills are also one of his major strengths. While an injured offensive lineman is rarely considered a steal, Long's upside makes the injury less concerning.
He is a very good guard, and with 10 draft picks this year, the Browns wouldn't be throwing one away by using their seventh-round selection on him.