With the most obvious being quarterback, the Browns most likely will select their third first-round quarterback since their rebirth in 1999.
In 1999, Cleveland selected Tim Couch out of Kentucky no.1 overall, Brady Quinn out of Notre Dame no.22 in 2007 and Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State no.22 overall in 2012.
With Brian Hoyer already on the roster and ahead of schedule, could the Browns throw a proverbial curveball and take the best player available in a position of need such as wide receiver in Sammy Watkins? Will Cleveland—for once, build around a starter already in place, instead of taking a chance on an unproven commodity?
The early impressions this writer is beginning to get here in Cleveland is that Hoyer is the guy going forward and that Cleveland will do everything to surround him with weapons for a change.
Other areas that need to be addressed are the offensive line, secondary, running back, fullback and most importantly middle linebacker.
This first mock draft will address each of those positions with whom this writer feels is the best fit for new head coach Mike Pettine’s hybrid 3-4 scheme and new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast offense/zone-block running scheme.
Here is version one of the Browns mock draft for 2014:
- First Round Pick No.4 : Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Thanks to an impressive 4.34 time in the 40-yard dash in the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, the former Clemson Tiger solidified his standing as one of the top—if not the top player in the draft. While Cleveland already has All-Pro and Pro Bowl wideout Josh Gordon, Watkins could not only inject n otherwise pedestrian and vanilla offense with some much-needed spice, but also serve as insurance if Gordon’s well-documented off-the-field problems choose to rise again. (other targets : QB’s Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, OT Greg Robinson)
- First Round Pick No. 26 : Chris Yankey, OT/G, Stanford – A much-needed pick at No.26, the Cleveland Browns need to shore up their offensive line. The selection of the 6’5, 314-pound guard/center is also key, if the Browns and free agent center are unable to reach a new deal. Able to play in a power offense, thanks to his laternal quickness, Yankey could also be a fit in Shanahan’s zone-block running scheme, that he will bring to Cleveland. (other targets : RB Carlos Hyde, QB Derek Carr, WR Marquise Lee, WR Jordan Matthews, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Odell Beckham)
- Second Round Pick No.35 : Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State – The Browns pull the trigger on the younger brother of much-maligned first-round bust, David, in Derek Carr. Carr, threw for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns and for the 20th-ranked 11-1 Fresno State Bulldogs, Carr looked average in a 45-20 loss to USC in the Las Vegas Bowl. Carr would somewhat redeem himself in the 2014 Senior Bowl in completing 7-of-12 passes for 54 yards and one touchdown. At No.35, Cleveland lands it’s future franchise quarterback, who gets a chance to sit behind Hoyer for a year and learn the NFL game. (other targets : QB Jimmy Garoppolo, WR Allan Robinson, WR Davante Adams, RB Carlos Hyde, RB Tre Mason)
- Third Round Pick No.71 : Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington – While many Browns fans have Cleveland taking Ohio State running back, Carlos Hyde, this writer feels that the best fit for the Browns new West Coast offense is the 5’10, 203-pound record-breaking junior tailback from Washington. Sankey, 21, rushed for 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns and caught 28 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown. A dual-threat inside and outside, Sankey could give Hoyer a much-needed weapon out the backfield. (other targets : QB Jimmy Garrapolo, WR Allan Robinson, WR Davante Adams, RB Carlos Hyde, RB Jeremy Hill, RB Charles Sims)
- Third Round Pick No.83 : Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina — A much-needed compliment across from Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, the 5-10, 202-pound ball-hawking cornerback out of South Carolina could give a boost to the Browns suspect secondary. Hampton, 21, record 45 total tackles and three interceptions for the Gamecocks. (other targets : (CB Bradley Roby, CB Loucheiz Purifoy)
- Fourth Round Pick No.106 : Terrance Brooks, S, Florida State – This pick is vital if the Browns fail to re-sign or choose to not franchise Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward. Depending on what the Browns do in free agency (Jarius Byrd?), Cleveland pulls the trigger on a player like Florida State’s Terrance Brooks, who would offer some quality talent either opposite Ward or become his new heir replacement. Brooks, 5’11 and 197 pounds, could prove to be a steal thanks to his 54 total tackles and two interceptions.
- Fourth Round Pick No.127 : Dri Archer, WR/RB, Kent State – Perhaps the biggest winner at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, thanks to an impressive 4.26 in the 40-yard the 5’8, 175-pound scatback out of Kent State is a steal for the Browns at this slot. With an ability to run and catch the ball, Archer could become the Darren Sproles in Shanahan’s offense as he rushed for 527 yards on 68 carries and six touchdowns and caught 25 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns. This pick will also affect the long-term futures of Dion Lewis, Edwin Baker and Chris Ogbonnaya, as the Browns will look to likely retool their running attack. Thanks to his ability to play in the slot and flex out as a wideout, Archer in Cleveland is a perfect match.
- Fifth Round Pick No.145 : Jay Prosch, FB, Auburn – Not one of the positions of need, thanks to the less-than-inspired performance of Ogbonnaya at fullback, Cleveland taps the best fullback prospect on the board in Auburn’s Jay Prosch. While his career numbers of 14 carries for 47 yards and two touchdowns are less than impressive. The hulking 6’1, 258-pound fullback helped pave the way for tailback Tre Mason during the Tigers’ improbable BCS title run.
- Sixth Round Pick No.180 : Jackson Jeffcoat, DE/LB, Texas – More for depth, the Browns grab a promising pass rusher and edge linebacker in 6’5, 240-pound Jackson Jeffcoat who registered 14 sacks and 79 total tackles.
- Seventh Round Pick No. 218 : Chris Boswell, K, Rice – A future replacement for Billy Cundiff, the former Rice product was 14-of-21 on field goals made with 47 extra points made on 49 attempts for 89 points. A career 72.9 percent kicker, Boswell completed 66.7 percent of kicks for the Owls in 2013-14.