The Cleveland Browns finished the 2015 season with a dismal 3-13 record and earned the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft as a result. Naturally, there have been rumors regarding what the franchise will do with that selection.
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Wentz Linked to Browns
Thursday, Jan. 28
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported "the buzz around the Browns and [North Dakota State quarterback] Carson Wentz at No. 2 is real."
Browns Reportedly More Likely to Trade Down Than Up
Tuesday, Jan. 26
Cleveland's executive vice president of football operations, Sashi Brown, is in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com noted he “said it would be ‘shocking’ if the Browns traded up to No. 1 from No. 2. ‘More likely we’d trade down.’”
Browns Are Wild Card at No. 2
Cabot reported that Brown, new head coach Hue Jackson and owner Jimmy Haslam are all in Alabama with the draft approaching. Cabot pointed out owners rarely attend college all-star practices and games, but Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole said Haslam is taking a “hands-on approach” to rebuilding the Browns.
Cleveland has a number of areas to address, so trading down would theoretically land the team more picks to spread the talent around. However, the Browns could also use more stability at quarterback after finishing 30th in the league in points per game and 21st in the league in passing yards per game during the 2015 campaign.
That is especially the case considering Tom Withers of the Associated Press (via FoxSports.com) said quarterback Johnny Manziel is on “shakier ground than ever” with the franchise after the former Heisman Trophy winner “skipped a scheduled medical treatment on the final day of the season amid reports he was spotted in Las Vegas.”
Manziel was fined for missing the session, and Withers also acknowledged that Brown did not know where the quarterback was during the final weekend of the regular season.
There are some options at quarterback in the draft if the Browns choose to look that direction. Cabot passed along word that Brown plans on talking with Wentz, and Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports both projected Cleveland to take California’s Jared Goff in recent mock drafts.
Michigan State’s Connor Cook and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch are also potential options.
The Browns could also look to shore up an offensive line that Football Outsiders ranked as the 29th-best run-blocking group and the 26th-best pass-blocking group this season with someone like Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil or bolster a defense that finished 28th in the league in total sacks with a pass-rushing menace like Ohio State’s Joey Bosa.
Rebuilding the Browns in an AFC North that featured two playoff teams in the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers is an uphill climb, but Cleveland can add some momentum to the process by taking advantage of the No. 2 pick in the draft.