The Browns attempted to trade for A.J. McCarron and failed because they forgot to submit the paperwork. This secretly saved them, as I discussed in the NFL Disaster Grades. Cleveland could try to obtain McCarron again, but it really depends on what the new regime will want to do.
DeShone Kizer showed promise during the preseason, but he hasn't shown many signs that he can be a viable NFL quarterback. Despite getting good protection, Kizer has made lots of mistakes and has held on to the ball too long in the pocket. He played somewhat well versus the Lions, but that was just one game. Kizer was only a second-round pick, anyway, and we saw the Panthers give up on Jimmy Clausen, another second-rounder, after one year when they selected Cam Newton first overall.
I've had Sam Darnold as the top quarterback for a while, but he has struggled so much this season that I'm wondering if he returns to USC for 2018 in an attempt to rebuild his draft stock. Lamar Jackson occupied this top spot for about a month, but I'm moving to Josh Rosen following his terrific performance against USC.
NFL coaches and owners are wary of the sort of things Rosen has discussed to the media, and his open views could hurt him. Scouts have told us that his teammates don't like him either, so that's a major strike against him. And for the cherry on top, even if his high school coach criticized him. However, Rosen has been prolific in some big games this year, so that could push him into the top spot.
It sounds like Cleveland is settled on taking the best player in the 2017 NFL Draft, which is Myles Garrett. He has been the consensus best player all year and and has been No. 1 on my big board since the start of the 2017 NFL Draft process. I think the Browns are wise to take him and not reach for a lesser player.
In 2016, Garrett totaled 33 tackles, 15 for a loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Against UCLA in the 2016 season opener, he collected three tackles, 1.5 for a loss and one sack going against a quality left tackle in Conor McDermott. Garrett is lightning fast off the edge with natural strength to bull rush offensive tackles. He is a freakish athlete with the potential to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
Immediately after arriving at Texas A&M, Garrett began dominating college football. The 6-foot-4, 272-pounder took the game by storm in 2014 as he was an impact-making defender for the Aggies from Day 1. The fast and athletic Garrett was a force on the edge as a quarterback hunter. He had 11.5 sacks as well with 53 tackles and 14 for a loss. That sack total broke the NCAA freshman record previously set by Jadeveon Clowney.
In 2015, Garrett kept it going, racking up 59 tackles with 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, two passes batted and an interception. He has blinding speed off the edge and is a natural pass-rusher. Garrett could be the best prospect in college football and could have been in the running for the No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he had been able to declare.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Days ago, I reported that the Browns had spoken with the Jets about trading from No. 12 to No. 6 in order to get Trubisky. I think Cleveland is motivated and has the ammunition to get Trubisky. I think the Browns will get it done and get their guy.
Trubisky looks like a second-round caliber prospect, but that doesn't preclude teams from reaching on him in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft. Some teams graded Trubisky in the second round, but teams across the league believe he will go in the top 10. One team picking in the top 10 that could take a quarterback told me Trubisky is the only quarterback prospect they would take that high. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was very efficient in 2016, flashing good decision-making and good accuracy in the short to intermediate part of the field. He has a decent, but not great, arm and some athleticism. However, across the history of the NFL, there have been very few 1-year college starters who turned into good pro starters. His accuracy going downfield is also something he needs to improve.
The junior beat up on some weak secondaries in 2016, but it still is impressive that he had three straight games throwing for over 400 yards without throwing a single interception. On the season, Trubisky completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State
Cleveland could use more weapons for its young quarterback.
Scouting sources compare Samuel to Percy Harvin and think Samuel could be a special play-maker in the NFL. The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder would probably fit better as primarily a receiver in the pros given his build. In 2016, Samuel had 74 receptions for 865 yards with seven touchdowns. On the ground, he averaged 7.9 yards per carry for 771 yards and eight scores. Samuel has explosive vertical speed and is a play-maker with the ball in his hands.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The Browns need a third cornerback, and a bigger one would allow them to move Joe Haden inside to the slot when they go to the nickel.
After losing Vernon Hargreaves to the NFL, Wilson replaced him as Florida's starter alongside Jalen Tabor. Sources with multiple teams graded the 6-foot-1, 211-pound Wilson as a second-rounder, and team evaluators feel that Wilson has above-average speed to go along with his size. In 2016, he totaled 33 tackles with six passes broken up and three interceptions. Sources also feel Wilson has above-average feel and awareness. He is good at running the route to prevent separation with the size to take on big receivers.
Wilson is a longer press-man corner for the NFL with ball skills, but scouting sources say that there are aspects that Wilson needs to improve. He grabs at receivers a lot and could get called for pass interference penalties in the NFL. They also say that he lacks instincts and has some limitations in scheme. Thus, he will need some development. Wilson's best fit would be as a longer press-man corner.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Marcus Williams, S, Utah
The Browns grab a safety upgrade.
Williams had a quality 2016 season with 64 tackles, three passes broken up, five interceptions and two forced fumbles. He put together a tremendous 2015 season for the Utes with five interceptions, five passes broken up and 66 tackles. It was a breakout sophomore season for Williams after he recorded 59 tackles with an interception as a freshman. The 6-foot-1, 202-pounder could use more strength and weight to tackle in the NFL.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
The Browns could use more tight end talent. Here's a nice value pick.
As a senior, Sprinkle had 33 receptions for 380 yards with four touchdowns. He played well as a junior as part of a pair with Hunter Henry, recording 27 catches for 289 yards with six scores. As one could expect from playing for Arkansas, Sprinkle (6-5, 252) is a decent blocker, but he also has some off-the-field concerns.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane
The Browns could use some competition at three-technique, and this could be a nice value pick.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan
The Browns grab more receiving competition.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Matt Dayes, RB, N.C. State
The Browns haven't taken running back depth yet, and it would make sense to grab a tailback on Day 3.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
The Browns could use take multiple quarterbacks with the all the picks they have in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Jadar Johnson, S, Clemson
The Browns could use take multiple safeties to upgrade that weak position.
If the Browns end up with the No. 1-overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, I think they would trade down again for a package of picks. That has been Cleveland's M.O. in the last two drafts, passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the process, so there is no reason to believe the team will follow a different plan in the 2018 NFL Draft. Considering Cleveland also passed on Derek Carr for Johnny Manziel and passed on Dak Prescott, the franchise has had a rough streak of passing on good quarterbacks. In a move down, the Browns could still target a difference-maker like Barkley to help the regime start winning some games. The Browns have Isaiah Crowell entering free agency, and their running game hasn't thrived this year despite a lot of money being spent on the offensive line. Here's a stud back to make DeShone Kizer's job a lot easier. <br> <br>
On the year, Barkley is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, which makes for 757 yards with eight touchdowns. He has 32 receptions for 448 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver. The sophomore averaged 5.5 yards per carry last year for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also made 28 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. Barkley was very impressive as a freshman in 2015 when he averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,076 yards with seven touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 161 yards and a score. Barkley was very impressive, running for 194 yards on 26 carries against an Ohio State defense loaded with NFL talent. <br> <br>
The 5-foot-11, 223-pounder is a tough runner with a burst. Barkley has devastating quickness to hit the hole and accelerate downfield. Along with great speed, Barkley has tremendous balance, vision, cutting ability, elusiveness, and power. He also is a receiving threat who presents mismatch problems for a defense in the passing attack. Barkley is an elite running back prospect in the same mold of Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley, and better than Ezekiel Elliott. Unless Barkley has an injury or off-the-field issue, he's a lock to be a top-10 pick next April.
Cleveland's M.O. in the last two drafts was passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson to trade down. Considering the current regime also passed on Dak Prescott, the evaluation skills of Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta, Andrew Berry and Hue Jackson are damning. I have been hearing chatter from scouts around the league that the Browns are going to clean house again. A new regime would definitely look to take its own quarterback. Even if the franchise doesn't clean house, DeShone Kizer hasn't done enough to convince the team he's the future. If Cleveland takes a rookie quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft and he has some success next season, that might be enough to buy the current regime some more time. <br> <br>
In 2017, Rosen has completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,094 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The junior has been up-and-down this season with highs and lows, including a concussion. He had a legendary performance in UCLA's 2017 season opener versus Texas A&M, leading one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history, turning a 44-10 third-quarter deficit to a 45-44 win. <br> <br>
Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen has the best mechanics and is the most natural pocket passer. He throws a tremendous ball and can really spin it with his powerful arm. Rosen's tight spiral helps him to get his passes through tight windows and beat good coverage. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has serious arm talent with field vision and pocket presence. Scouts who did advance work on the 2018 prospects told me that Rosen has questionable intangibles with how he gets along with his teammates and his leadership skills for the NFL. <br> <br>
Rosen had an impressive debut as a freshman in 2015, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a sophomore, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in six games before suffering a season-ending injury.
This is the pick that the Browns received from the Texans to trade up for Deshaun Watson. Cleveland could use more receiving talent across from Corey Coleman, and that could help the development of DeShone Kizer. <br> <br>
Ridley has 29 catches for 390 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. He totaled 82 yards on seven receptions with a touchdown against Florida State and their NFL secondary. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder Ridley is capable of producing a lot more, but Alabama's ground-based offense and running quarterback limit his opportunities. If Ridley were playing at a school like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, or pretty much any Big XII school, his production would be off the charts. Ridley has quality height, speed and upside for the NFL. He does have a thinner frame and will need to add weight. <br> <br>
In 2016, Ridley made 72 catches for 769 yards with seven touchdowns. He had a tremendous freshman season for the Crimson Tide as the replacement for Amari Cooper. Ridley was very effective in that role with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards with seven touchdowns. He finished the 2015 season with impressive performances against Florida and Michigan State to help push Alabama to the National Championship.
The Browns traded for Calvin Pryor, but he was a bust with the Jets. Cleveland could use a partner to go with Jabrill Peppers. <br> <br>
While James didn't have a flawless performance against Alabama in Week 1 of 2017, it was good overall with six tackles and .5 sacks. James was healthy and able to display his great instincts and rare combination of great size, speed, physicality and versatility. He played dime linebacker, nickel corner, free safety and strong safety, basically doing everything a coach could ask of him. <br> <br>
James totaled 11 tackles and an interception through two games in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. He had been playing well for Florida State. Entering last season, there was a lot of hype that James was an elite player and perhaps the best defensive player in college football. As a freshman in 2015, he had a strong debut with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles, but zero interceptions. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder has a great athletic skill set with tremendous speed, instincts, and strength to hit. He shows the ability to do everything a NFL safety is needed to do. James is fast and long with coverage skills in the deep middle of the field. He also is strong enough to be the eighth man in the box and tackle.
The Browns still need more corner and safety talent. Calvin Pryor was a bust for the Jets, so Cleveland can't count on him. Fitzpatrick could play a few different spots for the Browns. <br> <br>
In 2016, Fitzpatrick recorded 66 tackles with seven passes broken up and six interceptions. He was dominant at times for Alabama, splitting time between corner and safety. Fitzpatrick had a superb 2015 season for the Crimson Tide. The freshman totaled 45 tackles with two sacks, 11 passes broken up and two interceptions - both returned for a touchdowns. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder has excellent size and some natural cover skills. He has a ton of upside to develop. It sounds as if his preference and natural position is safety. Sources that have looked ahead to the 2018 NFL Draft have said that Fitzpatrick is a prototype free safety can cover over the slot, in the middle of the field, and be a center fielder. They say he has good size, speed, athletic ability, high football IQ and is a play-maker.