Grading the Draft: Cleveland Browns

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Chris Tripodi

Draft Analyst Writer

The Browns publicly flirted with drafting Mitchell Trubisky at No. 1, but in the end the team ended up going with the consensus top overall prospect in Myles Garrett, which was likely the plan all along. Cleveland was unable to trade up from No. 12 but still pulled off multiple moves and wound up finding a quarterback later in the draft.


Myles Garrett


Texas A&M


Jabrill Peppers




David Njoku


Miami (FL)


DeShone Kizer


Notre Dame


Larry Ogunjobi




Howard Wilson




Roderick Johnson


Florida State


Caleb Brantley




Zane Gonzalez


Arizona State


Matthew Dayes


North Carolina State

UDFA Signings: B.J. Bello, LB, Illinois State; Jamal Marcus, DE, Akron; Kenneth Olugbode, LB, Colorado; Ladell Fleming, DE, Northern Illinois; Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan; J.D. Harmon, DB, Kentucky; Taylor McNamara, TE, USC; Josh Boutte, OL, LSU; Karter Schult, DE, Northern Iowa; Alvin Hill, CB, Maryland; Kai Nacua, S, BYU

The top player on our board by a significant margin, Myles Garrett was the only real option for the Browns at No. 1 with no transcendent signal caller in this year's class. A pass-rushing terror who held his own against the run in college, he may struggle against the ground game early but should put his freak athleticism on display immediately on passing downs.

Jabrill Peppers was one of this year's most polarizing prospects, but in the end he wound up in the first round after the Browns traded back from the 12th pick rather than taking Deshaun Watson. Another great athlete who plays with a nasty attitude, Peppers should be an asset on defense in Gregg Williams' blitz-heavy scheme and will also impact games with the ball in his hands as a returner.

The Browns' plethora of picks gave them the flexibility to move up or down the draft board as they pleased, and the Browns hopped back into the end of Round 1 to select David Njoku. Njoku took a big leap from his freshman to his sophomore season and is a top-notch athlete -- notice a theme yet? He's very raw but possesses high-end starter potential at the tight end spot.

DeShone Kizer wasn't viewed in the top tier of quarterbacks this year, but he has similar upside to the three taken in Round 1. He plateaued a bit after an impressive sophomore season and is raw in terms of mechanics and reading the field, but his arm and athletic ability give him a chance to be a solid starter if Hue Jackson can clean up his game.

Larry Ogunjobi is similar to both Njoku and Kizer -- an athletic specimen who will need time before he can develop into an NFL starter. He's an explosive defensive lineman with a nasty attitude and good movement skills but needs to improve his leverage and pad level to avoid getting knocked off his spot at the line.

Rated as a free agent on our board, Howard Wilson was a significant reach by Cleveland. Odd pro-day incident aside, Wilson has an injury history and poor speed (4.57) for a 6-0, 184-pound corner and is too mechanical in his backpedal. His length and physicality are plusses and he can be effective in zone coverage, but he's a limited player who needs work before he's NFL-ready.

The Browns made up for the Wilson pick by grabbing Roderick Johnson, a second-rounder on our board, in Round 5. Strong as a run blocker with a good anchor in pass protection, Johnson will have to transition from left tackle to the right side to make up for his lack of range off the edge but possesses the size, skill and growth potential to eventually develop into a starter.

Widely billed as a second-day pick who slipped due to false battery allegations, Caleb Brantley was always a sixth-rounder on our board. A first-step lineman who moves well in every direction, he has average size (6-2, 307) and is better fit as a three-technique penetrator on the inside than a zero- or one-technique nose tackle.

Zane Gonzalez was our top-ranked kicker and earned a fourth-round grade, making him a nice late value for Cleveland. The Browns worked him out at the Arizona State pro day in March and obviously came away impressed with the FBS career leader in field goals made. Gonzalez's powerful, accurate leg should also serve him well on kickoffs.

Matthew Dayes was Cleveland's third and final Day 3 steal, and he ranked as a borderline third-rounder for us. A situational runner and third-down back, Dayes goes down often on first contact and will never be a featured runner but is a tough ball carrier with good patience, burst and acceleration who shows excellent pass-catching ability.

The Browns snagged two players with draftable grades in free agency in Channing Stribling and Taylor McNamara. Stribling is lanky at 6-1, 188 pounds but ran a 4.6 at the combine and shows poor speed on film. An aggressive run defender, his future could be at safety if he adds weight to his frame. McNamara is a good athlete who flashed with the Trojans and has potential as a move tight end down the line.

Analysis: Some questioned the Browns after the first round for not taking a quarterback despite the fact that they drafted three excellent players on Thursday. The Kizer pick Friday quieted many of those doubts, and in the end Cleveland came out of this draft with seven potential starters down the line, even if they may have to wait to reap the rewards on a few of those players. We questioned how the Browns had used the large amount of picks they've had in the lead-up to the draft, but they quieted that criticism as well with an excellent all-around effort. Grade: B+