Cleveland Browns Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
The 2014 NFL draft kicks off Thursday night, with the Cleveland Browns possessing two selections in the first round and 10 total through all seven rounds. For a team that is embroiled in yet another rebuilding effort, the glut of picks should help them move forward.
Here, we present everything you need to know about the Browns' upcoming draft, from a position-by-position big board to a round-by-round breakdown of the team's options with each selection. It's your one-stop shop for everything Browns leading up to the draft.
List of 2014 Draft Picks
The Browns have 10 picks in the 2014 NFL draft. Here's where they fall:
Position-by-Position Big Board
Here are a few players at each position that could be of interest to the Browns through all seven rounds of the draft:
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Derek Carr, Fresno State
Blake Bortles, Central Florida
Aaron Murray, Georgia
Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Cody Latimer, Indiana
Devin Street, Pitt
Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Tre Mason, Auburn
Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Storm Johnson, Central Florida
Alfred Blue, LSU
Eric Ebron, North Carolina
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Arthur Lynch, Georgia
OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame
OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
OT Seantrel Henderson, Miami (Fla.)
OG Jon Halapio, Florida
OG Spencer Long, Nebraska
DE Kareem Martin, North Carolina
DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
DT Zack Kerr, Delaware
DE Dominique Easley, Florida
OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
OLB Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
ILB Shayne Skov, Stanford
ILB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
ILB Max Bullough, Michigan State
Bradley Roby, Ohio State
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
Chris Davis, Auburn
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
Tre Boston, North Carolina
Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
Round 1, Pick 4
Team Needs: QB, WR, OL
What the Browns do with the fourth overall pick in this year's draft has a lot to do with what the three teams before them decide to do. It doesn't matter if the Browns are dead set on quarterback Johnny Manziel if he's taken by the Jaguars at No. 3, or if they want Sammy Watkins but the Rams take him at No. 2.
Quarterback seems like the logical choice, despite the team having four on the roster after signing Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen last week. Hoyer has yet to be named starter, Young and Thigpen will likely be battling each other for a veteran backup job, and Alex Tanney will simply be fighting for a roster spot.
The Browns could choose Manziel or Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, but ESPN NFL insider Adam Caplan (via Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland) said last week that the pick "will" (and not "could") be Fresno State's Derek Carr.
Carr completed 69 percent of his passes in 2013, for 5,083 yards, 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has great arm strength and accuracy, but he played mostly in the shotgun in college. He also has to improve his accuracy and decision making under pressure, which could mean he spends a year sitting behind Hoyer if the Browns choose to draft him.
The Browns could instead opt to find a true No. 2 receiver to pair with Josh Gordon, and at fourth overall, they would have the pick of a very deep class. Two options are Clemson's Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M's Mike Evans. Watkins is more of an every-touch scoring threat like Gordon, while Evans and his sure hands and slightly slower speed would be an upgrade over current possession receiver Greg Little.
Round 1, Pick 26
Team Needs: WR, OL, QB
Much like the Browns' fourth overall selection, what they do at 26th overall will be influenced by not only that pick but by what comes between it and the end of the first round. The pick, acquired via trade from the Indianapolis Colts for running back Trent Richardson, won't be used on yet another running back. Instead, receiver, offensive tackle and yes, quarterback, are in play.
If the Browns are as interested in Derek Carr as Adam Caplan suggests, it's possible they can wait until No. 26 to get him, using No. 4 on a receiver. Otherwise, should quarterback be the earlier pick, their 26th overall selection should be a receiver or an offensive tackle.
Both Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans should be gone at this point in the first round. The Browns could go after LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. and hope he's more than just a slot talent (the Browns, after all, have both Travis Benjamin and Andrew Hawkins for role). For the same reason, the Browns should also pass on Brandin Cooks.
The next best option would be USC's Marquise Lee, who struggled with a knee injury and poor quarterback play and had a disappointing 2013 season with 57 catches for 791 yards and four scores. The Browns could also use the pick on Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin or Penn State's Allen Robinson. Neither has impressive speed, but their size makes them mismatches.
The other direction the Browns could go at No. 26 is offensive line, particularly right tackle. If the Browns aren't pleased with Mitchell Schwartz and want to move him inside to guard, that would leave a void at tackle that they could address in Round 1.
Notre Dame's Zack Martin could fall far enough for the Browns to snag him, simply because he's a bit small at 6'4", 308 pounds to play left tackle in the NFL. His technique is good enough, to be sure, which could translate into him being the perfect complement to current Browns left tackle Joe Thomas.
Round 2, Pick 3 (35th Overall)
Team Needs: OL, WR, CB
If the Browns address quarterback at No. 4, then receiver or offensive tackle could be the play at No. 26. Among those two positions, the one they opt not to address in Round 1 should be their main focus at the top of Round 2.
Should the Browns take an offensive lineman in Round 1, then Penn State receiver Allen Robinson could still be available to them. He had 97 receptions in 2013 for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns. His speed has been all over the map, but he can pick up yards after the catch and is more reliable than current Browns No. 2 receiver Greg Little.
The Browns could also be interested in Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams. He had 131 receptions in 2013, for 1,718 yards and 24 scores. Should the Browns go with quarterback Derek Carr in Round 1, that could influence them to take his top receiving target in the second round.
At offensive tackle, the Browns could select Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio if they aren't concerned about his motor, or Virginia's Morgan Moses, who played right tackle during his collegiate career. Both have upside, but they also have problem areas to address—Kouandjio needs to improve his technique to make up for a lack of speed, while Moses needs to add strength.
Cleveland could also begin considering a cornerback in Round 2. Right now, the starters for 2014 appear to be Joe Haden and Buster Skrine, but there isn't a lot of proven talent on the roster beyond them (despite the Browns having 14 defensive backs signed on as of now).
TCU's Jason Verrett could fall to No. 35 because of his height—he's just 5'9". So could Ohio State's Bradley Roby, owing to technical on-field flaws as well as his many off-the-field concerns—he pled guilty last week to a motor vehicle violation for which he received a suspended sentence, and he was arrested for a bar fight in the past.
Round 3, Pick 7 (71st Overall)
Team Needs: CB, RB, ILB
By the third round, the Browns could be thinking about some of their secondary priorities, such as cornerback, running back and interior linebacker. While it's likely that Buster Skrine reprises his role as outside corner along with Joe Haden, the Browns may want to find his eventual replacement.
Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste could be a good option in Round 3. At 6'3" and 218 pounds, he fits the mold of the bigger, more physical cornerbacks that are becoming increasingly coveted by teams. Though there was some worry he might have to switch to safety in the NFL, WalterFootball.com notes that his strong Senior Bowl performance solidifies his status as a cornerback.
He had 41 tackles in 2013, defensed 12 passes and snared four interceptions. Considering the emphasis new Browns head coach Mike Pettine has put on physical defenders, Jean-Baptiste could be the corner he wants.
The Browns could also have interest in Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, if they want to go a different direction with the position. He is just 5'8", thus best suited to work out of the slot, but he could also play some safety and be an asset in the return game. His size didn't impede his production in 2013—he totaled 69 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and four pass breakups.
Round 3 could also be a good time for the Browns to find another running back to pair with Ben Tate and Dion Lewis. Because of the nature of the position, a talent like Auburn's Tre Mason could drop far enough for them to feel comfortable drafting him. He is shifty and speedy, using that elusiveness to net him 1,816 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns in 2013.
Round 3, Pick 19 (83rd Overall)
Team Needs: RB, LB, S, WR
By the Browns' second of two third-round picks (this one acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers for the Browns' 2013 fourth-round pick), running back should be firmly on their mind. Auburn's Tre Mason could still be in play at this point, as could Baylor's Lache Seastrunk.
Seastrunk had a good, if injury-marred, 2013 season with 158 carries for 1,117 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, he didn't have a single catch; if receiving isn't considered his forte, the Browns could be forced to take a pass.
The Browns could also start building depth in the defense in Round 3, taking an inside or outside linebacker. On the interior, Stanford's Shayne Skov or Wisconsin's Chris Borland could be of interest.
Skov is the more versatile of the two, with pass-rushing, pass-defending and run-stopping abilities that could see him move between positions. He had 109 tackles in 2013, along with 5.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and four pass breakups.
Borland is a run-stopping specialist who had 112 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, two passes defensed, two forced fumbles and four sacks in 2013.
On the outside, Texas' Jackson Jeffcoat could be an interesting developmental prospect for Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil. Jeffcoat had 79 tackles including 19 for a loss in 2013, along with 13 sacks, three pass breakups and an interception. A tweener, he is a bit small at 6'3", 247 pounds for 4-3 defensive end and not as ideally athletic as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Pettine's hybrid defensive system, however, could find a place for him. He'll need some time, but this isn't a problem; the Browns have enough starter-ready outside linebackers on the roster.
Round 4, Pick 6 (106th Overall)
Team Needs: ILB, RB, S
The third and fourth rounds for the Browns this year could go a number of ways, but it does seem likely that the four picks they have in those two rounds will be used on inside and/or outside linebackers, a cornerback and a running back. They could also add safety depth or grab the best player available, regardless of position.
If the Browns don't opt to take inside linebacker Shayne Skov in Round 3 and he's still available at the top of Round 4, then he'd be an ideal target. If running back has yet to be addressed, they could do it here, with Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey.
Aside from Week 1, when he was suspended, he ran for 100 or more yards in every game in 2013, eventually totaling 1,885 yards and 19 touchdowns. Though he does have some off-field red flags and wasn't terribly impressive at the combine, his ability to gain major yardage with every touch makes him a compelling option for the Browns.
At safety, the Browns may be interested in Baylor's Ahmad Dixon. The Browns aren't lacking for safeties—they have Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner lined up to start this year and Jamoris Slaughter and Johnson Bademosi in the pipeline. However, Dixon's background as a hybrid safety-linebacker at Baylor could be enough to influence the team to draft him. He had 81 tackles, six passes broken up and an interception in 2013.
Round 4, Pick 27 (127th Overall)
Team Needs: WR, DL
The Browns may get themselves a true No. 2 wideout in the first two rounds of this year's draft, but they'd be smart to take advantage of the depth of the receiving class and pick another up later on. And they won't be limited to just undersized slot receivers, even at the end of Round 4.
A very intriguing prospect is Coastal Carolina's Matt Hazel. He could go later, but should the Browns select him at 127th overall, they wouldn't be reaching. He had an impressive East-West Shrine Game performance and followed it up by looking good at the combine. He caught 70 passes for 990 yards and nine scores in 2013. WalterFootball.com compares him to Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts—he runs routes well, has good speed and knows how to make plays.
Another direction the Browns could go is augmenting the defensive line. Defensive tackle L.T. Tuipulotu from Utah could be a sneaky-smart selection. He had 42 tackles, three tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and four passes batted in his first year as a full-time starter. He could be a value version of the defensive tackle he replaced, 2013 first-round pick Star Lotulelei.
Round 5, Pick 5 (145th Overall)
Team Needs: OL, WR
The Browns could continue to find some unexpected steals in the middle and later rounds of this year's draft, like Missouri offensive tackle Justin Britt. He missed time in 2012 with an ACL tear but returned to the field in 2013 looking healthy.
The left tackle played some right tackle in college, but his size could dictate a move to either right tackle or inside to guard in the NFL. Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke characterizes Britt as a good backup plan for teams, like Cleveland, which could be targeting Virginia's Morgan Moses but miss out on snagging him.
The Browns could also opt to choose from the pool of considerable receiving talent that should still be available in Round 5. If they go with a different position in Round 4, they could use this selection on Matt Hazel. Another option is Pitt's Devin Street.
Unlike many receivers available in the later rounds, Street isn't an undersized slot receiver—he's 6'3". In 2013, he had 51 catches for 854 yards and seven touchdowns. He's athletic and has good hands, but his lack of speed—especially straight-line speed—may push him into a later round. His size, however, cannot be ignored. He could be a good developmental possession or red-zone receiver for the Browns.
Round 6, Pick 4 (180th Overall)
Team Needs: OG, TE
With 10 picks in the 2014 NFL draft, most of which come in Round 4 and earlier, the Browns won't likely need to do more in the later rounds beyond taking a few fliers on depth players. Two areas where this approach could prove fruitful are on the offensive line and at the tight end position.
Just as the Browns could get a steal at offensive tackle by taking Missouri's Justin Britt in Rounds 4 or 5, they can get a similar value out of Nebraska guard Spencer Long. He was on his way to being a top-100 pick for 2014 before tearing his ACL in October. A year continuing his rehab with the Browns' training staff could give way to a starting career in the NFL.
They could also stand to add a blocking tight end to round out the position. Georgia's Arthur Lynch could fall to Round 6, as he projects as a blocking-only tight end in the NFL. Though he caught 30 passes for 459 yards and five scores in 2013, his slowness means that the 6'5" prospect will be a receiving threat in the red zone only.
With the Browns currently boasting Jordan Cameron, Gary Barnidge and MarQueis Gray as receiving tight ends, adding a blocker like Lynch wouldn't be a wasted pick.
Round 7, Pick 3 (218th Overall)
Team Needs: OG, LB
The Browns could hold off on taking Nebraska guard Spencer Long until their final pick in the 2014 draft, hoping that his knee injury drops him all the way to the end of the event despite how promising he was before the injury.
However, if they take him earlier or want to go in another direction, finding a developmental pass-rusher could be a good use of their final selection. One option is South Carolina's Chaz Sutton, who played defensive end alongside Jadeveon Clowney. Due to his size, Sutton should be more of an outside linebacking prospect in the NFL.
He had 32 tackles including 8.5 for a loss in 2013, along with three sacks. He spent much of his college career as a backup, but with good coaching in the NFL, he could be a situational pass-rusher. His rookie-year value would be on special teams.
Latest Draft Buzz
Here are the latest rumors swirling about the Browns as the NFL draft rapidly approaches:
- Pro Football Talk has tracked all the draft prospects the Browns have met with or worked out; the list includes notable quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr.
- ESPN NFL insider Adam Caplan (via ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi) predicts the Browns "will" draft Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr with the fourth overall pick.
- On the other hand, Sports Illustrated's Peter King says the Browns have been "smitten with" Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles since the fall of 2013.
- The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto examines ESPN's Todd McShay's latest mock draft, which has the Browns selecting Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins at No. 4 and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at 26.
- ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi discusses the rehab of Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, which includes quotes from head coach Mike Pettine that seem to hint that no matter which quarterback they draft, Hoyer will likely start in Week 1.
- Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer discusses ESPN's Chris Mortensen's claims that if Johnny Manziel is off the board when Cleveland picks fourth overall, the team will take Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson.
- Sports Illustrated has a roundup of all the picks made for the Browns throughout mock draft season. The latest come from a fan mock draft, which has Manziel at No. 4 and USC receiver Marqise Lee at No. 26.
- Fox Sports' NFL insider Jay Glazer said on Tuesday that the Browns will not be selecting Johnny Manziel fourth overall.