In a week, the top of the draft changed dramatically when QB-needy Los Angeles and Philadelphia gave up a lot of draft picks to acquire the 1st and 2nd picks in the draft, respectively. They probably gave up too much for QBs who aren’t ready – especially Carson Wentz, who the Eagles will draft – but the Titans and Browns came away big winners. We already did a 7-round mock draft for the Titans. Here’s one for the Browns, with one big (silly?) assumption: They don’t trade Joe Thomas in the next week.
1st round (8th) – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon. Would be a stroke of luck if he falls this far, but at this rate, why not? Desperate need for a DE, especially a 6-foot-7, 291-pound one with monster hands. Why not Paxton Lynch here? Mike Silver says it’s a longshot. I actually like Lynch more than Wentz. More accurate, and performed well against much better competition. Had a monster junior year, including a great performance against Ole Miss. And …
2nd round (32nd) – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis. … does he fall this far? The teams most likely to draft a QB in the first round include the 49ers, maybe the Bears, maybe the Jets, and probably the Cardinals. (I still have Denver going Connor Cook … but Elway does like tall QBs!) As I said, I like Lynch. But does someone consider him Aaron Rodgers-like? A guy who could sit for a few years and then be lights out? I just don’t know if coaches/GMs have the luxury to wait, especially not three of those above fanbases. So for now … I’ll have Lynch here.
3rd round (65th) – Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford. The loss of Mitchell Schwartz to KC needs to filled on one of the first two days. The Patriots covet Murphy, a 6-foot-7 All-Pac 10 standout. Really like the idea of Jonathan Bullard, a DE from Florida here if things fall Cleveland’s way earlier. Have heard he could go anywhere from late 1st round to early 3rd (Kiper has him going 74th overall). Probably an ideal fit in a 4-3 given his 285-pound frame. Played inside as a junior.
3rd round (77th via Philadelphia) – Braxton Miller, WR/PR, Ohio State. Not sure he’ll fall this far, but the Ohio 3-sport high school legend who went on to star for the Buckeyes would add another dimension to the Browns offense. Remember how Hue Jackson loved to have Sanu throw the occasion pass? That could be Miller.
4th round (99th) – Jordan Jenkins, OLB/DE, Georgia. There’s some buzz that Jenkins – the Patriots and Jets worked him out recently – could be a 2nd round pick. But what is he? An edge rusher? He’s not explosive off the edge, and certainly not compared to his teammate, Leonard Floyd. Jenkins feels like a do-it-all linebacker who doesn’t excel at anything. I whiffed badly on Mr. Mingo. He’s been terrible so far for the Browns. Major need at pass rusher.
4th round (100th via Philadelphia) – Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee State. Browns are intrigued enough that they went to his Pro Day and then went back to MTSU to work him out. He’s a 5-foot-11, 210-pound hitter with some speed (4.44 was his Top 40 time) who put up 22 reps on the bench. The Browns let Donte Whitner walk after two so-so years; stop me if you’ve heard this before, but they’re thin in the secondary.
4th round (138) – Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas. Good sophomore season led to a monster junior year – 1,190 yards rushing, 12 TDs, 5.6 ypc. Not a 3-down back (yet?). Had good games vs Georgia and Texas and was poised for a big senior year. But a foot injury forced him to miss the entire season. Kenneth Dixon of Louisiana Tech is the sleeper RB everyone knows; Williams is the one you’ll hear about on Day 3.
5th round (141) – Spencer Drango, G, Baylor. The Browns offensive line was actually ranked 5th last year by PFF, with the biggest weakness at guard. Drango was a two-time All-American at tackle; likely shifting to guard in the NFL.
5th round (172) – Jordan Payton, WR, UCLA. When I ran this pick by a scout, he instantly asked why I’ve been so high on UCLA players dating back to last season. Payton catches everything – 78 receptions, 1,106 yards last year; most catches in school history (201) – but he’s not perceived as a great athlete. A knock is he struggles against press coverage.
5th round (173) – Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma. Thirty-three year old Tramon Williams is the projected starter opposite Joe Haden. That’s how far Justin Gilbert, the 8th pick in 2014, has fallen. I like Pierre Desir more than Gilbert at this point. Sanchez was a 3-year starter who intercepted 15 passes for the Sooners.
6th round (176) – DJ Reader, DT, Clemson. Depth behind Danny Shelton at NT? Reader was playing in the shadow of superstars Dodd and Lawson – well, once he re-joined the team after missing the first six games for “personal reasons.” (They were related to his father’s death a year earlier.)
7th round (223) – Austin Blythe, C, Iowa. With Alex Mack gone, Cam Erving will be the starting center. He struggled as a rookie. Blythe was a 3+ year starter for the Hawkeyes.