With the playoff field narrowed down to four, a majority of fan bases are looking ahead to the NFL Draft. The Cleveland Browns, fresh off an 0-16 season, have two top-5 selections in April. This begs the question, can they transform their lackluster offense in one draft?
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold QB, USC
While Josh Rosen is currently the more proven passer, he made it clear that he does want to play in Cleveland. Darnold is a younger player with just as much upside. The perfect scenario for Darnold is learning behind a bridge quarterback and then leading the Browns for the next decade.
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen QB, UCLA
At this point in the draft process, we are unsure of Eli Manning’s future in New York and they are a franchise who doesn’t plan on picking in the top-5 very often. Rosen has the personality to thrive in a market such as New York. He could be the choice for the Giants even if the Eli is still in the picture, he’s worth the pick.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb EDGE, North Carolina State
This seems like the most mocked pick so far this year. Chubb would instantly upgrade the defensive line of the Colts. He is not quite the slam dunk pass rusher typically taken in the top-5 but he is still very good at what he does. Saquon Barkely makes sense here, but new head coach Josh McDaniels could look to get his edge rusher of the future and wait on a running back for later in the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley RB, Penn State
The Browns could use upgrades at nearly every position on defense, but with this pick they get arguably the best player in the entire draft. Barkley is a special player and would instantly make the Browns offense much better. Investing in a guy like Barkley would help the Browns in those cold AFC north games in November and December.
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen QB, Wyoming
The Broncos requested to coach Allen at the Senior Bowl next week and, assuming he shows off the physical traits that have scouts drooling, he will be Denver’s guy if he is still on the board. He has rare tools, arm strength, and mobility. The kid is truly special from a traits standpoint. The part where he struggles is the mental side of the game, with decision-making. If he shows the Broncos he can improve in those areas, he will be their QB of the future.
6. New York Jets: Minkah Fitzpatrick DB, Alabama
The Jets invested several picks in the secondary last year and could pass on Fitzpatrick here, however it seems very unlikely that he falls out of the top six or seven picks. There are questions about his best position in the NFL, but there are certainly no questions about his talent. He is in the mold of young star Jalen Ramsey, both are able to play free safety or nickel corner. However, the position where guys like this make the most impact is outside corner.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quenton Nelson OG, Notre Dame
It is very rare to see a guard taken this high, however Nelson is worth the hype. Already being compared to Zach Martin and Brandon Scherff, he is the next Pro Bowl guard in the NFL. The Bucs upgrade a unit that could have definitely used some help protecting Jameis Winston last season.
8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward CB, Ohio State
The Bears could look to go with a receiver here to help Trubisky, but instead they get the best cover guy in the class. Ward is undersized but he is sticky in coverage, he tackles well for his size, and plays bigger than his frame. Making this pick gives the Bears an alpha dog in their secondary to build around.
9. Oakland Raiders: Roquon Smith LB, Georgia
Smith may be undersized but don’t let that fool you. He is the perfect WILL linebacker in today’s NFL. The Raiders could upgrade the defensive line with this pick but there were glaring needs at linebacker outside of NaVorro Bowman in 2017. Smith would make an instant impact on the Oakland defense next season.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Jackson CB, Iowa
Assuming the ‘Niners upgrade their receiving corps in free agency, they get a guy here with the tenth pick who instantly gives there secondary some ball hawking abilities. Getting a long, rangy corner and pairing him with the veteran safeties on the roster already makes this secondary much better than it was last year.
11. Miami Dolphins: Conner Williams OT, Texas
Protecting the quarterback has to be a priority for the Dolphins next season. Williams upgrades their offensive line immediately, even if it is at guard until a tackle spot opens in the future. Linebacker could be an option here but instead the Dolphins get an upgrade in the trenches.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Orlando Brown OT, Oklahoma
Brown is a massive man and played against some very stout competition in the Big 12. There are questions about his technique and how well he will handle speed rushers at the next level but, with the right fit and some learning, he could be a very successful tackle in this league. This pick helps bolster an offensive line that desperately needs it.
13. Washington Redskins: Lamar Jackson QB, Louisville
This may be considered a reach by some, but the Redskins have their bridge quarterback in Colt McCoy if Kirk Cousins does, in fact, decide to leave. Starting McCoy next season would give Lamar Jackson time to learn Jay Gruden’s system and thrive in it in the future.
14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport EDGE, UTSA
The Packers could use some help on the defensive line, especially on the edge. Davenport is a tall, long athlete that would thrive in a place like Green Bay. Adding him to help Kenny Clark on the line helps improve the Packers pass rush instantly.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Mike McGlinchey OT, Notre Dame
The Cardinals are one of the more interesting teams in this draft because they have needs at many positions on offense and McGlinchey could be a fit here as he can play either tackle spot. They could go with a skill position player such a Calvin Ridley or Christian Kirk, but they may wait until later in the draft to fill those needs.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley WR, Alabama
It seems that Ozzie Newsome has started a trend in drafting Alabama players, Ridley could be next on that list. Ridley could be the guy that Joe Flacco has needed for several seasons. Although he may never be a traditional number one receiver, Ridley has potential to be the next Doug Baldwin or Golden Tate of the league.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Vita Vea DL, Washington
One of the best pass rushing teams in the league gets even better with this pick. Vea is a big-body one technique guy that would make this Chargers defensive line the best in the league.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Carlton Davis CB, Auburn
The Seahawks secondary could see a massive overhaul this offseason. Kam Chancellor has hinted at retirement, Earl Thomas may want out of Seattle, and Richard Sherman was involved in trade rumors last season. The Seahawks got a guy they seemed to like last year in Shaquille Griffin, getting Carlton Davis, another outside corner who is used to big-time games in the SEC, fits the mold of players Seattle likes.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Tremaine Edmunds LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds could blow up the draft process the next several months and not even be in reach for the Cowboys. If Anthony Hitchens leaves in free agency, Edmunds could slide right in as the third rotational linebacker for the Cowboys. This would allow him to learn Marinelli’s system and eventually pair with Jaylon Smith to form an athletic linebacker tandem for Dallas.
20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry EDGE, Boston College
Ziggy Ansah is an impending free agent and, even with his return the Lions, they could still use an upgrade on the edge. This time last year, Landry would never be on the board at pick twenty. He battled injuries all season, but if he checks out at the Combine he should be a lock in the first round.
21. Buffalo Bills: Christian Kirk WR, Texas A & M
The quarterback situation in Buffalo is such a disaster that it’s difficult to predict what will happen. Whoever the quarterback in Buffalo is next year, Christian Kirk will make him very happy. Kirk is a dynamic, athletic receiver who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He can stretch the field, be used in the screen game, and is an electric returner.
22. Buffalo Bills: Chukwuma Okorafor OT, Western Michigan
With their second of back-to-back picks, the Bills upgrade their trenches with a raw but promising prospect in Okorafor. He is still fairly new to football and will need some seasoning at the next level. In the right fit, he could be a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle. This tackle class is very interesting and Okorafor’s stock can have an impact on the rest of the class.
23. Los Angeles Rams Mike Hughes CB, UCF
Hughes has had an interesting path to the league but he really showed off this year for UCF. He is sticky in coverage and has shown some ball skills. He is also an electric return man. Adding a guy like this to the Ram’s defense, which already has some serious talent, only makes the unit better.
24. Carolina Panthers: Sam Hubbard EDGE, Ohio State
The Panthers could use an upgrade on the edge and they get that in Sam Hubbard. He is a high motor, high energy guy who can win in several ways. He will make an instant impact on the Panthers defense.
25. Tennessee Titans: Arden Key EDGE, LSU
Key is the most polarizing player in this draft, he has the talent to be a top-5 pick but has the off-the-field character issues to fall very far down the board. If he does well in the draft process, he could cement himself in the first round. The Titans could see that the reward can outweigh the risk with this pick.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne DL, Alabama
Payne could immediately fill the hole that Dontari Poe could leave in free agency. Payne showed his athletic ability in the college football playoff. They are similar players and Payne is the younger, cheaper option for the Falcons in the late first round.
27. New Orleans Saints: Courtland Sutton WR, SMU
Outside of the running back tandem and Michael Thomas, the Saints have limited options on offense. Getting a guy like Sutton, who has the potential to be the next Alshon Jeffery on the outside, makes a good offense even better.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Jefferson LB, Texas
As sad as this sounds, the future of Ryan Shazier’s career is in jeopardy and Jefferson can help the Steelers defense, with or without Shazier on the field. Jefferson is an exciting prospect who may be a better athlete than football player right now. If he develops, and Shazier returns, the Steelers would have one of the most dynamic linebacker duos this league has ever seen.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert TE, South Dakota State
The Jaguars defense is loaded at nearly every position so why not take a luxury pick here? It seems that Goedert is the top tight end in year’s class and could immediately become Blake Bortles’ top target. He wouldn’t draw as much as attention, due to focus on the running game, which would allow him to fly under the radar and develop in the Jag’s system.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Martinas Rankin OT, Mississippi State
The Eagles could use upgrades at linebacker, but it doesn’t seem like there are any potential fits in the late first round. Rankin would provide depth along the offensive line and could be the successor to Jason Peters when he chooses to hang it up. Rankin comes from the SEC, so he has seen some talented pass rushers. He would immediately add some very solid depth for Philadelphia’s offensive line.
31. Minnesota Vikings: Ronnie Harrison S, Alabama
The Vikings already have one of the most dominant defenses in the league. Adding Harrison as a hard hitter on the back end with All-Pro Harrison Smith making plays all over the field makes this defense that much better.
32. New England Patriots: Tavarus McFadden CB, Florida State
If McFadden had come out last year, he would have been a top-10 pick. He took a step back this year but is still a very talented player. Malcolm Butler is an impending free agent. McFadden would be a younger and much cheaper option at the position.