Every year it seems like the NFL Draft presents a “can’t miss” prospect who is expected by all draft experts and analysts to be the first name called on Draft Day regardless of the team sitting with the first overall pick. This year, that man is Myles Garrett, the pass rusher out of Texas A&M. There isn’t a single mock draft you’ll find at this stage that doesn’t have Garrett slated to be the pick to the Cleveland Browns atop the 2017 NFL Draft board.
While I’m 99% sure the Browns will select Garrett come April, assuming they sit tight at the #1 spot, the NFL Draft is chock-full of surprises every single year, even at the top pick. Back in 2006, Reggie Bush was considered the consensus #1 pick to the Houston Texans, but they came out and shocked the entire NFL and draft community with their selection of Mario Williams. Things don’t always go as planned, no matter how many experts or scouts say so. If I’m the Browns, however, there is no way you can pass on this star-studded pass rusher.
Let’s say the Browns continue to live by that phrase “The Browns are gonna Brown” and ultimately end up passing on Garrett, who are some possibilities to be the guy? Remember, they also own the 12th pick from Philadelphia, so there’s a lot of flexibility for them. A franchise QB remains a hole on this team, so perhaps they will pull the trigger and take the QB of their choice. Maybe they’ll go defense, but instead of Garrett, go with a player who they feel can make more of a difference, then go on to pick up a passer rusher at the 12 slot in a deep draft class full of edge rushers. If the Browns do happen to pass on Garrett, they have a lot of options to choose from.
QB Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
The Ohio native would love to stay close to home and play for his favorite team, the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately for him, you don’t get to choose where you play in the NFL Draft. Still, Mitch Trubisky remains in the realm of possibilities of players the Browns could potentially end up selecting, although he’d be a more likely option at #12, or if the Browns traded up from that slot. With Kyle Shanahan set to take over as the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Mitch Trubisky has been the trendy #2 pick in most recent mock drafts. If the Browns view he is their QB of the future and want him, they may have to pull the trigger with the first pick, although still doubtful.
Trubisky enjoyed a breakout year with the Tar Heels in his first and only season as the starting QB. Many (including myself) consider him to have the best accuracy of any passer in this year’s draft class. He brings prototypical size to the table (at least prior to the combine) with pesky athleticism and ability to move around in the pocket and evade pressure. He poses as a very good QB prospect, but just not worth the #1 overall pick. The Browns would be better off waiting until next year as the 2018 draft class presents a richer QB class.
QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
If the Browns end up drafting a QB, I think Deshaun Watson is the most likely to land in Cleveland. You could make the case that Watson had the best college career of any QB in the game’s history. He followed up consecutive Heisman finalists with an upset win over Alabama in this past season’s National Title game. Cleveland is desperate for a winner, and that is exactly what Watson is – a pure competitor and leader.
Questions regarding Watson’s mental aspect of the game and his ability to read defenses and go through progressions remain a common concern, along with his overall arm talent. Without those issues, Watson would be a slam dunk as the top QB prospect, and even in the conversation as the top overall pick. However, that is not the case. Regardless off what you would consider his weaknesses, Watson still brings some great traits to the table and is a dual threat under center. His leadership and maturity will attract teams – he’s the type of player a team will fall in love with as he can inject some faith in restoring a bad football team. Not at 1, but at 12 is a spot I can see him landing if he does in fact get selected by the Browns.
DL Jonathan Allen (Alabama)
Widely considered the top defensive line prospect in the entire draft (not by me), Jonathan Allen is a tremendous talent and spent the last couple of seasons anchoring a stout Alabama defense up front. Allen will likely be a top 5 pick in the draft and brings a pedigree unmatched by most prospects in this draft class.
While adding a premier pass rushing talent like Myles Garrett may be the way to go, but instead going the route of Jonathan Allen could instead build a sturdier unit up front. Allen may not be as flashy as Garrett, but he’s rock solid up front and would form a tremendous tandem with nose tackle Danny Shelton and 2nd year end Emmanuel Ogbah who rotates on the line. I have Solomon Thomas rated higher than Allen, but the former National Champ should be a top 5 pick in the eyes of the media.
LB Reuben Foster (Alabama)
What does everyone dominant defense have in common? A defensive cornerstone at inside linebacker, and that’s exactly what Reuben Foster will be in the NFL. Foster has drawn comparisons to former Defensive Player of the Year awardee Luke Kuechly, and to be frank, he can be that good in the NFL. Foster has unmatchable instincts on the inside and served as the leader and QB of a historic Alabama defense. A pure tackling machine who can do it all.
You won’t see any mock drafts at this point projecting Foster inside the top 5, but if the Browns ended up taking Foster at #1, I wouldn’t knock it too hard. He’ll be a longtime Pro Bowler and as stated earlier, will be the leader in the middle of whatever defense he gets drafted into.
S Jamal Adams (LSU)
While it’s unorthodox to see a safety be selected atop the draft, Jamal Adams is a rare talent and quite frankly remains a bit underrated, even considering most have him ranked as a top 10 prospect. Adams is a complete safety who can do it all. He can play back in coverage or up in the box. His combination of impressive ball skills, ability to lay the wood and outstanding instincts are what makes him standout.
It is a bit farfetched to think of the Browns going with Adams at #1, especially considering the position he plays. However, the Browns remain thin at the safety position, and with Jordan Poyer a pending free agent, they’ll need to upgrade that unit.