CANTON, Ohio- It’s been a week since the 2017 NFL has ended. So, I wanted to give my final opinion and overall thoughts on what I thought, of the 2017 Cleveland Browns draft picks.
The Cleveland Browns selected Myles Garrett with the first overall pick. On paper, Garrett will hopefully give the Browns a pass rush. You know, that part of a defense that really good defenses have? Von Miller ring a bell? If Cleveland has any plans on closing the gap between them and Cincinnati, let alone the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore, they’ll need to start putting better, more consistent pressure on Roethlisberger, Flacco and Andy Dalton. With Emmanuel Ogbah opposite Myles Garrett, the Browns seem to be putting together, what seems to be, two good edge rushers. On running plays, both Garrett and Ogbah will also have to do a good job of setting the edge, which in return, will force running backs right to the linebackers. Now, Garrett will have to prove his worth. And his first test will be a big one, as Cleveland hosts Pittsburgh in week one. If Myles Garrett wants to make a great first impression, well, he certainly has an opportunity in week one.
I noticed some experts gave Cleveland an F grade for the selection of Jabrill Peppers. At 12, I did want Cleveland to select either Malik Hooker or Jonathan Allen. Instead, the Browns made a trade with Houston. Cleveland then dropped down to 25 and received the Texans first round pick in next year’s draft. The Browns now own their own first round pick and Houston’s first round pick. Next, with the 25th pick, Cleveland shocked me, but in a good way. I’ll admit, I really like Peppers as a football player. I love his versatility and his love for the game. I also love how he can play multiple positions. Jabrill will play strong safety, but he can also be used to cover some of the slot receivers with his speed. On offense, Peppers can play at WR, RB and can even be involved in the wildcat. Want more? How about Jabrill Peppers returning kicks? Yes, he can do that to. As you can see, I loved this pick.
Cleveland’s next move brought help to the offensive side of the ball. The Browns drafted David Njoku, a tight end from Miami, Florida. Njoku is 6’4 and weighs 250 pounds. He will give Cleveland a solid weapon in short yardage and goal line situations. All the quarterback has to do, is toss the ball up and let David go up and get it. With Njoku’s athleticism, Cleveland can also use him for fade routes into the corner of the end zone. According to the scouting reports on Njoku, he can also run right up the middle of the field which will force a safety to have to cover him. That’ll be a mismatch in favor of the Browns.
With the Browns, the secondary was terrible last year. That’s why I expect CB Howard Wilson, rookie out of Houston, to get a good shot at playing a lot. Cleveland could have Wilson cover the slot receivers or bring him in when the offense decides to try and spread out the defense with 5 wide receivers. I liked Cleveland bringing in help for the secondary here.
Cleveland decided to go the free-agent route to help protect the QB and hopefully provide running room for Crowell and Duke Johnson. That didn’t stop the Browns from drafting OT Roderick Johnson out of Florida State. This pick helps provide Cleveland with both youth and depth at the offensive line position. Some even feel that Cleveland might be preparing for Joe Thomas to retire at some point and the drafting of Johnson gives them a project at tackle. Roderick Johnson will likely get a chance to start at right tackle for now, but he could also see time at left tackle during the pre-season once they give Thomas the night off or let Thomas play a few series and then send in Johnson.
How about the selection of former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer at pick 52 of the second round? I think it’s ironic that I had Kizer rated the best of all the available QB’s in this draft. Kizer has everything you want in a quarterback. He just needs time to learn the Browns offense. And, apparently, Hue Jackson showed DeShone some tips on how to improve his foot work. He went, made his improvements and showed off those improvements to the Browns before the draft. Jackson and the staff were impressed enough to take him in the second round. So, the Browns finally didn’t “Reach” for a QB. It’ll be curious to see when Kizer gets his chance.
Cleveland selected defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi from North Carolina Charlotte. This pick was made to add depth to the interior of the line. The Browns need depth behind Jamie Meder and Danny Shelton.
In round 6, the Browns went with a controversial pick. Cleveland selected the talented Caleb Brantley. Caleb Brantley is a solid DT from Florida. But, he had an off the field incident with a female. Back in April, a police report was filed and Brantley was accused of punching a Florida student in the face with a closed fist. Brantley has yet to be charged. If cleared and receiving the all clear, Brantley would add, not only depth, but talent to the Browns defensive line.
A kicker? Yes, believe it or not, the Browns drafted a kicker in the 7th round at pick 224. Cleveland selected Zane Gonzalez out of Arizona State. Cleveland hasn’t had a quality consistent kicker since the days of Phil Dawson. While at Arizona State, Gonzalez went 96 for 116 (83%). But, kicking in Cleveland is a lot different from kicking out in Arizona. He’ll have to deal with swirling winds and cold swirling winds at that.
Finally, with the 252 pick in round 7, Cleveland went with running back Matt Dayes from N.C. State. I would be shocked if Dayes makes the 53-man roster. Maybe he can impress during training camp and do well with a limited amount of touches during the pre-season. Time will tell.
On paper, I really liked what the Browns did with their picks. Plus, they now have two-first round picks and three-second round picks. I look at it like this. Cleveland added at least four starters to their 53-man roster, and they added more draft picks to the 2018 draft.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis