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Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
Draft Decisions

NFL Draft Needs: Browns

by Josh Norris
Updated On: March 26, 2019, 1:21 pm ET

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is Rotoworld's Senior NFL Editor, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) is Rotoworld's lead Draft Analyst. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in April’s draft.

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

Notable Pre-Draft Additions: WR Odell Beckham, DT Sheldon Richardson, DE Olivier Vernon, RB Kareem Hunt, OT Kendall Lamm, TE Demetrius Harris, G/C Eric Kush, G/T Bryan Witzmann, LB/ST Adarius Taylor, LB/ST Ray-Ray Armstrong.

Starting Offense

QB: Baker Mayfield
RB: Nick Chubb
WR1: Odell Beckham
WR2: Antonio Callaway
SLWR: Jarvis Landry
TE: David Njoku
LT: Greg Robinson
LG: Joel Bitonio
C: J.C. Tretter
RG: Austin Corbett
RT: Chris Hubbard

Starting Defense

RE: Olivier Vernon
LE: Myles Garrett
3T: Sheldon Richardson
NT: Larry Ogunjobi
MLB: Joe Schobert
WLB: Christian Kirksey
SLB: Genard Avery
LCB: Denzel Ward
RCB: Terrance Mitchell
SCB: T.J. Carrie
FS: Damarious Randall
SS: Derrick Kindred


Dorsey confident OBJ will fit in well with Browns

Mar 25, 2019
John Dorsey discusses the Browns' trade for Odell Beckham Jr., what he expects to see from new head coach Freddie Kitchens and how Cleveland is bracing for a season brimming with potential.

Team Needs

Silva's Analysis

Offensive Line: The biggest impact of Cleveland’s in-season transition to Freddie Kitchens as offensive overseer was felt in pass protection, where the Browns went from allowing the NFL’s tenth-highest pressure rate (36.1%) under Hue Jackson/Todd Haley to the league’s third-lowest clip (25.8%) from Week 9 on. Unfortunately, Robinson is an unlikely long-term left tackle solution, and pricey RT Hubbard is a replacement-level bookend. After a non-factor rookie year, RG Corbett warrants competition to replace jettisoned stud Kevin Zeitler. Mayfield’s quick-passing approach and Kitchens’ schemes can mask some protection breakdowns, but the Browns still need more talent up front.

Defensive Front: Many teams would envy Cleveland’s defensive-front talent. But GM John Dorsey needs to stay greedy, especially after dumping Carl Nassib, Caleb Brantley, Jamie Meder and Danny Shelton with minimal return, then whiffing on free agent Chris Smith, third-rounder Chad Thomas and waiver-dud Devaroe Lawrence. Last year’s Browns finished 23rd in sacks (37) and 20th in QB hits (91). Kirksey missed a large portion of the 2018 season at off-ball linebacker, and depth is a need on the line.

Secondary: Cleveland’s defensive backfield warrants talent influxes considering top CB Ward’s concussion history and FS Randall’s entrance into his contract year. Kindred is a viable in-house successor to Jabrill Peppers at strong safety, but significant contributors Mitchell and Carrie are more journeyman types than long-term solutions. The Browns will implement more zone coverage at cornerback under first-year DC Steve Wilks.


Browns 2019 Draft Picks

Norris' Options

2 (49). S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida - It’s difficult to predict first-round picks, so with the Browns not drafting until round two they truly could go anywhere. The easiest avenue to the starting lineup that also fits a strength of the draft is at safety.  CGJ can play big nickel (three safety sets) or work in split safety looks. The Panthers didn’t value safety highly under Wilks, but Gardner-Johnson plus Randall would create a nice tandem.

3 (80). CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky - There’s a lot of buzz about Johnson right now. It makes sense, as he stands 6-foot-2, 213 pounds and boasts an athletic profile in the 90th percentile with over 32-inch arms. Still, his game is more flash than substance. Hopefully NFL pushes him towards that consistency.

4 (119). OL Connor McGovern, Penn State - With Corbett moving to the starting lineup, at worst the Browns could be looking for a utility lineman as a backup for gamedays. Insert McGovern, who has starting experience at center and right guard.

5 (144). Acquired from Jaguars for Carlos Hyde - DL Byron Cowart, Maryland – The Browns haven’t been against taking on projects in the past; previous recruits who didn’t hit their ceiling. Cowart was viewed as the No. 1 high school recruit before transferring from Auburn to Maryland. He now best projects on the interior.

5 (155). LB Ty Summers, TCU - Depth at linebacker in the form of athleticism, as Summers posted a composite score in the 90th percentile.

5 (170). Acquired from Patriots in Josh Gordon trade - RB Myles Gaskin, Washington - Kareem Hunt will miss at least eight games. We know Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson have the position locked down, but Gaskin can offer depth. The Browns roster is solid, so it’s not out of the question that a fifth rounder ends up on the practice squad.

6 (189). EDGE Gerri Green, Miss State - Edge depth in the later rounds. Best asset is his motor to rip around the pocket.

7 (221). Acquired from Jaguars for Cody Kessler - CB Rashad Fenton, South Carolina - More slot depth with TJ Carrie’s guaranteed money dwindling after the 2019 season.

Josh Norris

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for NBC Sports Edge and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .