With the 2016-17 NFL season officially now in the books, thanks to the New England Patriots improbable second-half comeback to win Super Bowl LI, 34-28, the 1-15 Cleveland Browns can move forward with plans for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft.
Due to the recent cuts of veterans such as quarterback Josh McCown and defensive back Tramon Williams, the Browns could very well be looking to upgrade at the positions of QB and DB.
Combine that with the rumors of trading for Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garapoolo, the recent hiring of former Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach, David Lee—who recently worked with another rumored target in Tyrod Taylor—and Cleveland’s non-committal stance on Robert Griffin III, and the Browns may very well be in the market for a new signal-caller.
But where? Free agency, the draft? Or in 2018?
Going into the draft, Cleveland has needs at OL, DL, DB, QB and LB. Thanks to having five picks in the first 65 overall, Cleveland has a chance to do some major damage and take the next step in infusing some much-needed talent into the otherwise talent-deprived franchise.
Below is my post-Super Bowl three-round Browns mock draft
1.) Myles Garrett, EDGE Texas A&M: In desperate need of a pass rusher on the edge, Cleveland tabs the 6’5 269-pound Garrett to pair opposite promising second-rounder Emmanuel Ogbah and a recently re-signed Jamie Collins in new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams aggressive 4-3 system, is simply too much to pass up.
12. (via PHI) Dalvin Cook, RB Florida State: Due to both his inconsistency on the field, along with questionable off-the-field actions, restricted free agent running back Isaiah Crowell could find himself the odd man out in Cleveland.
Despite rushing for 952 yards and seven touchdowns, I have the Browns taking a legit home run threat in Florida State’s Dalvin Cook.
While RB isn’t an area of need for the Browns, creating another area of strength would be wise in the physical run-heavy AFC North.
In Cook, Cleveland gets a dangerous 6’0 214-pound playmaker who is capable of taking it to the house every time he touches the ball. Thanks to rushing for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns, Cook would provide the Browns with a dangerous 1-2 tandem of Crowell and Cook with Duke Johnson serving as the third down receiving threat out of the backfield.
33rd Jabrill Peppers, S/LB Michigan: With top-tier prospects such as Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker already gone, the Cleveland Browns land their ball-hawking centerfield-playing free safety in the rangy 6’1, 205-pound All-American and Paul Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player.
Capable of helping in coverage as well as the run game, Peppers ability to play cornerback, hybrid linebacker and even some offense as a wide receiver or running back, a creative mind such as Browns head coach Hue Jackson can surely design some plays for the talented Peppers.
52 (via TEN) TRADE to NE for QB Jimmy Garoppolo and next year’s first-round pick in 2018: TRADE!! Here is the deal that many have whispered about and due to the Browns having a multitude of draft picks are able to pull the trigger on.
While QB prospects such as Mitch Trubisky, DeShaun Kizer, Deshaun Watson are all likely gone and Patrick Mahomes still a possible target in such a scenario, none of them have the real NFL game experience as newly-minted two-time Super Bowl champion in New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
In two starts vs. Arizona and Miami, Garoppolo passed for 502 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Thanks to showing poise, good pocket awareness, accuracy and mobility, Garoppolo has set himself up for land both a big payday and a NFL starting job.
Teams such as San Francisco, Arizona and Chicago will more than likely be in contention for Garoppolo, but thanks to their number of picks, do not be surprised of Cleveland outbids them all.
65th Ethan Pocic, C LSU: Cameron Erving at center. Need I say no more.
In what was a forgettable year for the Browns offensive line, one year after letting Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz leave in free agency, the massive 6’7 302-pound Pocic makes the most sense at this spot as he fills an area of need and is the best player on the board for the Browns.
With the likelihood of Erving moving to right tackle and Joe Thomas getting older, Pocic could solidify a average line.