Cleveland Browns 2017 draft recap

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Apr 28, 2017; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns first round picks defensive lineman Myles Garrett and defensive back Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku display their jerseys to the media at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns just had one of the fruitful drafts in recent memory, bringing in a total of ten players across the seven rounds. A lot of these players have the chance to make serious impacts early, and

To most, it was fairly apparent that Myles Garrett was going to be the Browns pick at number one. Many felt like the Browns were going to pick Garrett at one and use the 12th pick to take a quarterback, with Trubisky and Mahomes getting a lot of favorable buzz from Browns fans.

Round 1, Pick 1: Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texan A&M

At 6’4’’, 272 pounds with measurable that stunned at the combine, Garrett brings a freakish athleticism to this Browns defensive line. He logged a 41-inch vertical, which is up there with the best in recent memory for defensive ends. Despite his size, he was the fifth fastest end in the draft with a 40 time of 4.64.

With those measurable, Garrett has all the tools to be an explosive pass rusher and has the size to get up there and swat some balls down at the line. The Browns logged only 26 sacks last season, which was 30th in the league. In his three years at Texas A&M, Garrett totaled 32.5 career sacks, putting him at seventh all time in SEC history.

The Browns got this right, even if it was the most obvious number one pick since Andrew Luck back in 2012. Garrett’s sheer athleticism is going to have an impact day one for the Browns, especially for their pass rush potential.

Bears Trade Up-Pandemonium Ensues

After the Garrett pick, the night got a lot less predictable. The Bears made a stunning with the 49ers to move up one spot and take Mitchell Trubisky, the quarterback out of North Carolina. There had been rumors about the Browns moving up from twelve to snag him, so this news came as a surprise to a lot of fans who had already started picturing Trubisky in the orange and brown.

With Trubisky now off the board, the Browns watched the Chiefs trade their 27th overall pick, a third-rounder this year and a 2018 first-round pick to the Bills all to move up to 10th and take Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes was the other guy the Browns had their eye on. He had a cannon arm and was rated by most to have the best deep ball in the quarterback class.

With both Trubisky and Mahomes off the board, if the Browns were going to go with a quarterback at 12, it was feeling like it was going to be Deshaun Watson. He was dubbed by a lot of people the best quarterback in the draft and he has far more experience than a guy like Trubisky, but the Browns had other plans.

In a surprising move, they traded out of the 12 spot with the Houston Texans. OJ Howard, Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster were some big names that were all still on the board at that time. In exchange for giving the Texans the pick at 12, the Browns got the Texans 25th overall pick this year and got next year’s first round pick from the Texans.

Round 1, Pick 25: Jabrill Peppers, Safety, Michigan

With the 25th pick in the draft, the Browns selected Jabrill Peppers, safety out of Michigan. While most refer to him as a safety, Peppers was dubbed a “swiss-army knife” coming into the draft because he was so versatile. In college he received Heisman consideration for his contributions all across the field.

Writer Al DiFranco had this to say about Peppers:

Opinions on Peppers vary in NFL circles. Some see him as a ball-hawking safety similar to Troy Polamalu. He is extremely athletic and has great instincts. He is one of the fastest defensive players in this year’s draft class, running a 4.46 at the NFL Combine. His tackling is stellar – he hits hard and has good technique. He is passionate about the game of football. And by all accounts, he is excellent in the locker room and in the community, having won the Lott IMPACT (Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity) Trophy for the nation’s most outstanding defensive player who also possesses high character off the field.

The reaction from Browns fans was mixed, with many seeing Peppers as little more than a special teamer who succeeded in college because he played against inferior athletes. At 5’11’’ he doesn’t have the height many wanted from a safety, especially from a safety that is going to have to cover AJ Green twice a year.

Despite these worries, Peppers’ versatility can help the Browns all over the field. The Browns may have passed on a chance to get a top fifteen talent, but they snagged a first-round pick and an amazing athlete that can have an impact on all sides of the ball.

Round 1, Pick 29: David Njoku, Tight End, Miami

As Browns fans were still squinting at the Peppers pick, the Packers traded the 29th spot to the Browns in exchange for the Browns spot at 33 and the fourth-round pick (at 108). With it, the Browns drafted David Njoku, tight end out of Miami.

Njoku brings a nice size to the Browns receiving corp, standing at 6’4’’ and sporting a 37.5 inch vertical. Last year, when Cody Kessler was making starts Gary Barnidge saw a lot of targets, so we know Kessler likes his tight ends. As of now, the starting quarterback is unknown, but Njoku will make a nice big target for whoever is throwing the ball to him.

He averaged 16.6 yards per reception in his two years at Miami, and with a 4.64 40-time he’s quicker than he’d seem.

Having a big pass catcher is going to make a difference for whoever starts at quarterback for the Browns. Njoku has good acceleration and cutting while running routes, so look for him to have a big impact on third down plays and in the red zone.

Round 2, Pick 52: DeShone Kizer, Quarterback, Notre Dame

If this pick would have happened in the first round it would feel like a mistake, but the Browns were patient and waited for Kizer to come to them. Taking a chance in the mid-second round on a guy that has franchise quarterback potential is a fairly low-stakes gamble. Kizer has the physical tools needed to have a high celling, so he just needs coaching up to get starter ready. From our write-up on Kiser earlier:

Kizer stands at 6’4’’ and weighs 233 pounds, a nice healthy size for an AFC North quarterback. He’s known to have quick movement in the open field, though he struggles with footwork in the pocket. Hue Jackson likes his arm strength and coachability and that in part warranted the pick. Kizer’s biggest strength is his ability to run the play action. When running the play action in college, Kizer amounted a passer rating of 154.7, the best in the nation.

Kizer has all the tools to compete for a starting job, but only time will tell whether or not we see him debut in 2017.

Round 3, Pick 66: Larry Ogunjobi, DT, UNC Charlotte

The Browns drafted Ogunjobi at the top of the third round, a special moment for the Charlotte 49ers as it marked the first player ever drafted into the NFL from there. Ogunjobi is 6’3’’ and 305 pounds, a little lighter than average for a standard defensive tackle. He doesn’t have the size or the measurable to be a day one starter, but he’ll add valuable depth to the defensive line.

The Ogunjobi pick was part of the renewed focus on the defensive front. Cleveland finished near the bottom of the league in sacks last year, and with the addition of Ogunjobi and the later addition of Brantley, the Browns keep adding players that will bolster the depth of this pass rush.

Ogunjobi is one giant question mark. In the games he played against more talented schools, his production sharply fell. He hasn’t overcome the kind of offensive line talent that makes him stand out as a pick or as a day one starter.

Round 4, Pick 126: Howard Wilson, CB, Houston

The Browns traded up in the draft to grab Howard Wilson, a speedy cornerback out of Houston. He recorded five interceptions last season, averaging an interception every 15 targets. Wilson has a unique acceleration; he finished third in the three cone drill at the combine and second in the 20 yard shuffle.

Wilson overcame an ACL injury in 2015 to have an impact year for Houston in 2016. Scouts have critiqued Wilson’s physique, but he has some time to build up the bulk required to effectively play cornerback.


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Round 5, Pick 160: Roderick Johnson, OL, Florida State

At 6’7’’, 298 pounds Roderick Johnson is a towering offensive tackle with massive arms. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy (best offensive lineman in the ACC) his last two years at Florida State.

Johnson was predominantly known for his run blocking ability, but in his final season at Florida State his pass blocking proved more effective.

Johnson isn’t going to be a week one starter, but he has the opportunity to learn and develop under one of the best offensive lineman in NFL history in Joe Thomas.

Round 6, Pick 185: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Brantley proved to be the Browns most controversial pick in the draft. Most scouts considered him to be an upper round talent, but he fell into the later rounds because he is currently embroiled in an off-field incident.

From writer Al DiFranco’s piece on Brantley:

Brantley is facing a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from an incident at a bar near UF’s campus, where he allegedly struck a woman. Some reports claim he was attacked first, and he claims he acted out of self defense. However, with recent incidents surrounding Ray Rice and Joe Mixon, there is an understandably heightened awareness and concern about NFL players making any sort of physical contact with a woman.

Cleveland Browns’ general manager Sashi Brown addressed the media shortly after the selection of Brantley, stating Brantley’s actions were “very concerning to us” and that they need to “get comfortable” with the situation. He also made it pretty clear that if they couldn’t get to that point, Brantley’s time with the Browns would be short.

If Brantley does overcome these charges, he can become an effective addition to this Browns defensive front. Across 10 games in 2016, Brantley accumulated 2.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss.

Round 7, Pick 224: Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State

Gonzalez holds the FBS record for most field goals ever made, ending his collegiate career with 96. The previous record holder was Dustin Hopkins, who only racked up 88. What’s most impressive about Gonzalez is that he was 7 for 9 in kicks over 50 yards, and at pick number 224 in the draft he represents a high value player even if it is at an often overlooked position.

Last year Cody Parkey attempted 25 field goals and made 20 of them: an 80% competition rate. While he improved throughout the year, he cost the Browns an early win against the Dolphins and by drafting Gonzalez the Browns hope to bring more consistency into the kicking game.

Round 7, Pick 252: Matthew Dayes, RB, North Carolina State

Dayes is a pretty straightforward third down back for the Browns. He doesn’t have the skill set of a back like Crowell, but he does add valuable depth to the Browns backfield. At 5’9’’ and 205 pounds, Dayes is fairly small for an NFL back. He averaged only 1.8 yards after contact and is most likely only going to be used in third down situations.

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