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Draft Decisions

NFL Draft Needs: AFC North

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: April 18, 2020, 1:29 pm ET

The Rotoworld Football crew’s Ian Hartitz, Nick Mensio, John Daigle and Hayden Winks are breaking down every team's biggest needs, division by division, and Josh Norris offers potential solutions in this month's NFL Draft.

For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.

Cleveland Browns

Notable Offseason Additions: QB Case Keenum, FB Andy Janovich, TE Austin Hooper, RT Jack Conklin, DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Andrew Billings, LB B.J. Goodson, CB Kevin Johnson, S Karl Joseph, S Andrew Sendejo

Starting Offense

QB: Baker Mayfield
RB: Nick Chubb
WR1: Odell Beckham
WR2: Jarvis Landry
WR3: Damion Ratley
TE: Austin Hooper
LT: Chris Hubbard
LG: Joel Bitonio
C: J.C. Tretter
RG: Wyatt Teller
RT: Jack Conklin

Starting Defense

LE: Myles Garrett
RE: Olivier Vernon
DT: Larry Ogunjobi
DT: Sheldon Richardson
WLB: Mack Wilson
MLB: B.J. Goodson
SLB: Sione Takitaki
CB: Denzel Ward
CB: Greedy Williams
SCB: Kevin Johnson
S: Karl Joseph
S: Andrew Sendejo

 

Team Needs

Left Tackle: The Browns laughably went into last season with Greg Robinson as their left tackle. That was the beginning of the end for GM John Dorsey and coach Freddie Kitchens, who lost their jobs at the end of the year. Robinson has since been arrested for marijuana possession at the Mexican border this offseason, and it’s already been announced he won’t be re-signed. Cleveland has no in-house option to replace him, so the focus of the offseason for new GM Andrew Berry is to find Baker Mayfield’s blindside protector. The Browns are believed to be among the front-runners for embattled Redskins LT Trent Williams via trade. Last season’s starting RT Chris Hubbard has been a bust as a 2018 free-agent pickup and can’t be trusted at left tackle.

Safety: The Browns used five safeties last season pretty heavily, and Damarious Randall led the five in snaps before signing with the Raiders last week. Juston Burris received strong marks from Pro Football Focus and also left in free agency for the Panthers. Morgan Burnett was released in a cap-savings move. Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo are both playing on one-year deals. They’re merely stopgap options in an effort to install new DC Joe Woods’ system.

Linebacker: Joe Schobert priced his way out of Cleveland by signing a five-year, $53.75 million deal with the Jaguars. Schobert was a true every-down linebacker and one of the defensive mainstays for the Browns. Replacing him won’t be easy, though linebacker is widely viewed as one of the easier positions to find contributors. The Browns used 2019 mid-round picks on LBs Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson, but it’s unclear how the new regime views the two. B.J. Goodson has starting experience but is on a low-end one-year deal. New defensive coordinators Joe Woods and Jeff Howard came from defenses where they had every-down studs like Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander and Dre Greenlaw.

 

Browns’ Draft Picks

Norris’ Options

1 (10). OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia - The Browns are in a perfect spot to lock down their No. 1 need. The top of the tackle class is full of talent and Thomas might be the best of the bunch. While his kick slide might look a little awkward, Thomas is absolutely athletic enough to hold up on an island and his pass set his not passive. Thomas wants to be the hammer in both phases of the game.

2 (41). S Ashtyn Davis, Cal - Davis likely fits somewhere in the top 50 picks thanks to his versatility. Davis spent the majority of his time as a rangy free safety, but around 30% of his combined snaps saw him reside in the box or in the slot. He finds the football.

3 (74). LB Akeem Davis-Gaither - Davis-Gaither’s tape can mirror Takitaki’s in terms of winning from multiple alignments. He plays off the ball, then will shift to rushing off the edge. Despite toeing the line around 230 pounds, ADG is extremely competitive against tackles almost 100 pounds heavier than him. His play strength is fantastic.

3 (97). G Jon Runyan, Michigan - While Runyan played left tackle last season for the Wolverines, he will likely shift inside in the NFL. Why? Runyan seems to lose when asked to block on an island, allowing speed rushers to beat him around the hoop. He will likely succeed in more confined space at guard. Phonebooth blocking.

4 (115). WR John Hightower, Boise State - If the Browns need an injection of talent in their receiver group, it might come in the form of a deep threat. Hightower is one of the best in this class, averaging 18 and 16 yards per reception over the last two seasons.

6 (187). DB Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame - Likely projects best as a big slot, operating in the box or near the line of scrimmage.

7 (244). iDL McTelvin Agim, Arkansas - Interior line help with many of the Browns’ current disruptors nearing the end of their contracts.

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