The Cleveland Browns came into this year being talked about as a team who had some talent on defense, but needed the offense to step up to make them competitive. After an 0-2 start and an injury to starting quarterback Brandon Weeden the Browns decided they were going to make some moves. First the Browns traded starting running back and the third pick in the 2012 NFL Draft Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for their first round pick this year. Then they decided to start third string quarterback Brian Hoyer instead of second stringer Jason Campbell. When all of this happened, most people thought the Browns were tanking to get a top pick, but that isn’t quite how it worked out.
Hoyer emerged as a spark plug for the Browns and led them to two straight victories before he had a season ending knee injury against the Bills in week 5. The Browns still won that game, but up until now it was the last one they have won. Weeden stepped back in as quarterback and proved he was still terrible. The running game has been a non-factor for the most part and the offense has struggled. The Browns have a pair of future pro-bowlers on the team in second year wide receiver Josh Gordon and third year tight end Jordan Cameron. They Browns aren’t going anywhere this year, but with a young, talented defense and two 1st round picks, the Browns have the ammunition this offseason to become much better. Where should the Browns go with their first round picks? What positions and players should they look at? Let us take an in depth look at who the Browns should target in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Pick One: 7-14 Range
With the record of the Browns right now and the way their offense has been playing, the Browns first pick in the first round should be a pretty high one. It won’t be in the top five, but will pick in the top 10 or just outside it. Brian Hoyer player well in the just over two games he played in, but I’m not sold he is going to be a really good NFL quarterback. With the amount of talented quarterbacks in this draft, quarterback is a position that they should really look at early. Let’s take a look at some possible choices for the Browns first pick.
Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
Rob Chudzinksi likes his mobile quarterbacks and there isn’t a more explosive and mobile quarterback in the country than Manziel. Manziel took college football by storm last year as a redshirt freshman when he led the Aggies to a victory over the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. He went on to put up amazing numbers for the year and win the Heisman trophy. Some people don’t think that he has the size or the arm to make it in the NFL, but I disagree. Manziel has played his best ball against the best team in the nation each of the past two years and has made every throw that I want to see from a NFL quarterback. Manziel would add instant offense to a Browns team that has had trouble scoring. He has the Russell Wilson ability to make something out of nothing and has the receivers to throw to in Gordon and Cameron to make teams pay.
Derrek Carr, Quarterback, Fresno State
This one is more of a long shot than Manziel, but Carr has played fantastically this year and has all the tools you want in a franchise quarterback. He has the big arm to make any throw on the field and has been showing better mechanics than the ones people worried about last year when he was playing with an injury all year. If the Browns want more of a prototypical quarterback than Manziel, Carr is just a step behind Bridgewater. Carr has some athleticism to him, but isn’t on the same level as Mariota or Manziel. If the Browns want a quarterback early, Carr has the talent to be a franchise guy.
Mike Evans, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
If the Browns truly believe that Hoyer is a franchise quarterback they won’t draft one in the first round. Giving Hoyer another big time receiver to go along with Gordon and Cameron would make this offense a lot scarier. Gordon is already putting up big time stats after missing part of the season due to suspension, but if you put another receiver of Evans talent across from him, teams won’t be able to double team both of them and Cameron. Evans is a big, tall receiver that created mismatches against shorter defensive backs. He has pulled in a lot of jump balls thrown up from Manziel at A&M and would give the Browns another red zone threat.
With the way the Browns are stockpiling picks, trading up for one of the top two picks to take either Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota is certainly a possibility. Add to the two first round picks they already have, rumors of them wanting to trade Josh Gordon have been circulating all year. Though trading Gordon is a bad idea, leaving whoever their quarterback is short on weapons, it doesn’t mean he can’t fetch a nice haul. If the Browns believe that the only two franchise guys in this draft are Bridgewater and Mariota and decide that Hoyer isn’t their guy, trading up is a real possibility.
Pick Two: 21-32 Range
The Browns second first round pick came from the Indianapolis Colts in the Trent Richardson trade. The Colts are a playoff team, but after that it will be a toss-up as to how far they make it. The Colts have been playing good football, but they still have issues on defense and the offensive line. Now with Reggie Wayne being out for the year, Andrew Luck loses his best target. The Browns can go a lot of different ways with this pick. If they don’t take a quarterback with their earlier pick, they certainly can take one here. On top of that they could take a running back to replace Richardson or take someone to be their second cornerback and give them more depth. Let’s take a look at the Browns options with their second pick.
Zac Mettenberger, Quarterback, LSU
Mettenberger has made as much progress this year as any quarterback in the country. He came into LSU last year and was supposed to be the quarterback that LSU had been missing but, last year Mettenberger just didn’t live up to those expectations. However, this year Mettenberger has been really impressive. He has the size and the frame you want in your quarterback to go with the big arm. If the Browns still feel like they need to bring a quarterback in, Mettenberger is a prime target at the end of the first round.
Lache Seastrunk, Running Back, Baylor
Seastrunk burst on the scene last year when he ran for 831 yards and six touchdowns in his final six games. Once Baylor let Seastrunk take over the reins, he never looked back. So far this year Seastrunk has 869 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Seastrunk has the size and speed you want in a running back and can take the ball to the house every time he touches it. Seastrunk needs to show more ability in the passing game, as Baylor doesn’t throw it to its backs much. However, Seastrunk doesn’t have much wear and tear on him which is a good thing for him.
Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
The Browns have a little depth at cornerback and Joe Haden is a stud, but Buster Skrine is better suited to play in the slot and Leon McFadden hasn’t shown the ability to be a No. 2 corner so far. Fuller has played phenomenal this season at Virginia Tech. He started the season out shutting down one of the top receivers in the nation in Amari Cooper. Fuller has kept his strong play up all year and would be a great addition opposite Haden. The Browns No. 2 cornerback is one of the weaknesses on that defense and if they fix it, the defense could be one of the top few in the league.