Cleveland Browns Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer
The Browns ended the day with cornerback Justin Gilbert and quarterback Johnny Manziel. Many were expecting Manziel to go to Cleveland. Not so many were expecting Gilbert.
The Gilbert selection, and especially the trade, was a bit puzzling. Cornerback was a need for the Browns, but not many considered Gilbert to be a top-10 player, and the team certainly had bigger needs.
Manziel, on the other hand, made perfect sense. He could have been the Browns’ pick at No. 4, and no one would have blinked an eye. Instead, Cleveland got him at No. 22, settling the future of the quarterback position.
Clearly, the Browns have filled two needs. They also added a future first-round pick from a not-so-great team.
Everyone knew Cleveland would have an eventful draft, and the team is certainly living up to the hype.
Day 1 Recap & Analysis
When Cleveland came onto the clock at No. 4, the team chose not to pick, instead trading back to No. 9, picking up Buffalo’s first- and fourth-round picks in 2015.
Then, instead of picking at No. 9, the Browns traded up one slot, surrendering a fifth-round selection.
All of this was less surprising than the eventual selection. With their first pick, the Browns surprised a bit, selecting cornerback Gilbert. Most analysts were expecting an offensive player, and, as in typical NFL draft fashion, they were wrong.
Few analysts had Gilbert ranked as a top-10 player. His upside is undeniable, however, as he is an incredible athlete with terrific size. The 6’0”, 202-pounder is one of the fastest players in the draft, and he has the ability to be an interception machine in the NFL.
After drafting Gilbert, Cleveland was sitting at No. 26 still needing a quarterback. Seeing an opportunity, general manager Ray Farmer traded up to No. 22, giving up a third-round pick. There, the Browns got their quarterback in Manziel.
There isn’t much to say about Manziel that hasn’t already been said. He is the most polarizing player in the draft, and even his detractors admit that he has huge potential.
Though the electrifying passer may not start immediately, he gives Cleveland a long-term solution at a position previously plagued by short-term options. And whether or not he pans out, Manziel will be an interesting storyline to watch for years to come.
Updated Needs for Cleveland
After the first round, Cleveland has addressed two of its top needs. Quarterback easily ranked as the Browns’ primary position of concern, and cornerback was high on the list, as well. Neither position requires any further attention throughout the rest of the draft.
Of course, the Browns are the Browns, so they still have plenty of other needs.
This was Cleveland’s No. 2 need entering the draft, and the Browns haven’t added anyone there yet. With many picks remaining, they should have plenty of opportunity to address it, however.
Josh Gordon is already a star at wide receiver, and at just 23 years old, he has unbelievable potential. It’s the spot across from Gordon that warrants concern, as Andrew Hawkins has the slot spot under wraps.
Cleveland really doesn’t have an option for its second wide receiver. Hawkins is purely a slot player, and neither Nate Burleson nor Travis Benjamin should even be mentioned as a candidate to start.
Cleveland swapped out D’Qwell Jackson for Karlos Dansby, adding in both age and skill. Like wide receiver, though, it’s the second starter here that is the concern.
Craig Robertson started all of 2013 next to Jackson on the inside of Ray Horton’s defense, and he struggled. Horton’s scheme didn’t help as it often isolated Robertson in coverage, but the 26-year-old doesn’t look like a starter.
This could be addressed by drafting either a guard or a tackle. Mitchell Schwartz has struggled a bit at right tackle, but he isn’t horrible, and he could be a good guard.
At left guard, John Greco is a good player, but the right guard position is essentially empty. This could be filled with a draft pick, or a right tackle selection could push Schwartz inside to fill it.
After signing Ben Tate, Cleveland has a competent starter. The issue lies in what stands behind the former Texan. Chris Ogbonnaya isn’t much of a runner, and Dion Lewis, while talented, hasn’t proven anything.
Tate has a history of injury problems, so the Browns need someone who can fill in should he go down. This isn’t a second-round need by any means, but it is a concern for the team moving forward.
In 2013, Tashaun Gipson played well. He wasn’t amazing, but he performed above expectations and was good enough to retain his starting job moving forward.
However, Gipson wasn’t so great that it is unfair to wonder whether he was a one-year wonder. It’s fair to wonder whether he will be able to repeat his performance, and regardless, Cleveland needs depth behind him.
Top Day 2 Targets
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
At one point in time, Marqise Lee was considered a top-10 draft pick. Clearly, he is no longer seen in that same light. He is, however, a good player who can contribute as a rookie.
At 6’0” and 192 pounds, Lee is a bit undersized, but he’s fast and athletic. There is no reason why he can’t start as a rookie and be a solid contributor for years.
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Allen Robinson is significantly bigger than Lee is. Robinson is a possession receiver who can overpower defensive backs and find holes in coverage in order to get open.
While he isn’t necessarily a deep threat, Robinson has the catching ability to bring down jump balls, so he is effective on mid-range passes. Robinson has the ability to be dangerous in the red zone, and he would combine with Josh Gordon to give the Browns a pair of huge wide receivers.
Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
A great athlete, Joel Bitonio is primarily seen as a guard, but he could possibly play tackle. Bitonio is effective in space, making him a perfect fit in Cleveland’s zone-blocking scheme.
This would address a big need for the Browns, regardless of what position Bitonio played.
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
A linebacker who has rushed the passer and dropped back in coverage, Kyle Van Noy is a tremendous fit at inside linebacker in Pettine’s defense. Pettine requires linebackers who can blitz and drop back, so Van Noy is a logical fit.
Van Noy could conceivably play either outside or inside linebacker, and the additional versatility is another positive in his favor. Cleveland needs to upgrade at linebacker, and the BYU product could play as a rookie.
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
If Cleveland doesn’t address the offensive line in the second round, Trai Turner would be a tremendous fit. The 6’3”, 310-pounder is a big guard with great power, but he’s also light on his feet.
He isn’t the prototype zone-blocking lineman, but there is no reason why Turner can’t excel in the scheme.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
A huge wide receiver standing at 6’6” and 225 pounds, Brandon Coleman is surprisingly athletic. The Rutgers product is fast and a vertical threat, though he doesn’t always play up to his size.
If Cleveland hasn’t addressed wide receiver by the third round, Coleman would be a high-upside option to play opposite Gordon.
What Are the Experts Saying?
Matt Miller had the Browns taking Pierre Desir in the second round of his seven-round mock draft.
This seems extremely improbable, given the events of the first round. If the Browns would take another cornerback to start the second round, it would be one of the draft's biggest surprises.
Miller gave Tre Mason to Cleveland in the third round
This remains a possibility. The Browns need additional running back depth, and Tre Mason stands a good chance of being on the board in the third round.
Behind Tate, the Browns don't have much at running back, and Mason is a solid player. He would provide valuable depth should Tate get hurt, and every team needs two capable runners.
Peter Schrager projected the Browns to take Bradley Roby in the second
Like Matt's projection of Desir, this seems unlikely, partially because the Browns already took a cornerback but mostly because Bradley Roby was selected by the Denver Broncos. Still being available is generally a requisite for a possible selection.
Schrager predicted Scott Crichton in the third
Nothing the Browns have done so far makes this impossible, but the position isn't the best. Cleveland has Barkevious Mingo, Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard and Quentin Groves at outside linebacker, where Scott Crichton would play.
That's not to say the pick is impossible—this is the NFL draft, after all—but it seems likely the Browns will look to a more urgent need.
3 Predictions for Day 2
Cleveland Will Continue to Make Trades
The Browns started off the draft by making three trades during the first round. They probably won't continue to average three trades per round, but Cleveland will keep making deals.
With six picks still remaining, the Browns can afford to add a player for each selection, but they may not want to. This could mean trading up or swapping picks this year for 2015 selections. Thus far, the Browns have done both, and they will probably continue to do so.
The Browns Will Take a Wide Receiver Early
Wide receiver was probably Cleveland's second biggest need entering the draft, and the team didn't address it through the first round. Given the depth of this wide receiver class, that isn't a huge issue, but it does mean that the Browns will look there soon.
If Cleveland wants to add an immediate starting wide receiver, it will have to make the pick soon. And given the fact that the Browns do not have a second capable outside receiver, they should probably look to do that.
They Will Address Offense and Defense
In the first round, Cleveland took one player on each side of the ball. This type of balance is likely to continue, as the Browns have needs on both offense and defense.
Even though they desperately need a wide receiver, the Browns could look to defense with their second-round selection. Given the team's significant needs there, it wouldn't be too surprising. Now, if Cleveland chose to spend nearly all their picks on just one unit, that would surprise.
Updated Browns Mock Draft
Round 2, Pick No. 35: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Cleveland’s primary need by this point is at wide receiver. Lee can step in and start as a rookie, though he doesn’t offer elite upside.
Round 3, Pick No. 71: Trai Turner, OG, LSU
Turner is a powerful guard with quick feet and starting ability. He would provide an upgrade at right guard for the Browns, though they may prefer to pick up a right tackle.
Round 4, Pick No. 106: Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State
Cleveland still has a huge hole at inside linebacker, which Carl Bradford could help fill. The versatile pass-rusher can play either inside or outside in a 3-4, and he may start off purely as a situational pass-rusher.
Round 4, Pick No. 127: Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
A big, powerful back, Andre Williams has good vision, though he lacks burst and top-end speed. He is a good candidate to spell Tate, and his skill set is a good fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Round 6, Pick No. 180: Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State
A big speedster with tremendous athleticism, Jeff Janis is a pure upside pick. He isn’t especially good at catching the football, and he is far from NFL-ready. His pure physical ability is tremendous in the sixth round, however.
Round 7, Pick No. 218: Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Cleveland doesn’t have much after Jordan Cameron at tight end, and Jake Murphy has at least some potential. The Utah product has great hands and decent athleticism, though he isn’t a strong enough blocker to be a traditional in-line tight end.