Of course it is impossible to predict who the Browns will draft this April 30, but that minor detail won't stop the Village Elliot. Channelling my inner Ray Farmer, my overall plan is to build a tough defense and fix the worst ranked run defense in the NFL, while building a ball control, cold weather offense. I don't think we are going to be in the top 15 in passing offense, but we could realistically build a top 5 running game, and that would be good enough to win and make the playoffs.
I know, I know everyone wants a quarterback in Round 1. But I predict that we will not bundle a bunch of draft picks for the Tennessee Titans to move up and take Marcus Mariota. The Philadelphia Eagles will do that because Chip Kelly is Mariota's former college coach.
Plus in my view there are several quarterbacks with potential to be a starter in the NFL, but no superstars this year. I think Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and Sean Mannion are not far behind Mariota and Winston. I think we can nab one in the second round.
In the first round, we have to stop the run, folks. Last in the NFL is just not quite good enough, okay? A lot of mock drafts have us taking Danny Shelton, massive beast who played the Nose Tackle position for Washington. But his 40 yard dash time is slow beyond belief and his sack totals, achieved via mammoth games against second tier teams, will not translate to the NFL. There are glaciers that move faster. It might be that Malcolm Brown is actually a better player at this position, but I'm okay with Shelton.
Then I have us taking La'el Collins, a terrific run blocking Right Tackle out of LSU. Mitchell Schwartz is very good, but not dominant in the run game. Mitchell and John Greco thus will fight it out for right guard, but we are going to run off right tackle this year.
La'el Collins is going to push people out of his way. Draft him.
As long as Petty, Hundley and Mannion are undrafted, the Browns may be content to hang back, even trading back a few spots. But if necessary they will trade up to get one of the three. Mannion is the most boring choice, and a few mocks are really down on him because he is slow. But the Browns have pass blocking, and this kid has an arm that rivals Winston's. Take him.
Sean Mannion looks good in bright orange.
I want a big physical receiver with good hands who can catch a wet ball in cold weather on a sloppy field. I'm not opposed to a downfield burner who is at the top of his game in a dome stadium, but Browns fans have to get it into their brains that we really are trying to win playoff games in Cleveland in the near future. David Funchess is a guy who is almost big enough to be a tight end. That's the guy I want in Round 3.
In Round 4, here again I am not thinking about Air Coryell, but again who fits a cold weather football team? How about Jesse James, a big tight end from Penn State, one of the best run blockers among tight ends. Then let's take Trey Flowers, an Outside Linebacker from Arkansas
I'm not talking about running once in a while for our Browns. No, I think we will need to run the ball 60% of the time. I want to build a top 5 running game that is good for well over 2000 yards. So even though we have two good backs, I draft a big running back in David Cobb from Minnesota in Round 5, and follow up with a fullback in Aaron Ripkowski from Oklahoma.
In Round 7, I'm taking a chance with Karlos Williams another big strong running back with character issues. But in Round 7 you have to take risks.
Round 1: Malcolm Brown, NT, Texas
La'el Collins, ROT, LSU
Round 2: Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Round 3: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan State
Round 4: Jesse James, TE, Penn State
Trey Flowers, OLB, Arkansas
Round 5: David Cobb, RB, Minnesota
Round 6: Aaron Ripkowski, FB, Oklahoma
Round 7: Karlos Williams, RB Florida State