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2017 NFL Draft, Cleveland Browns: Top needs, suggested picks, current outlook

2017 NFL Draft Reset: Browns go for Brock, still seek QB

By
Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com
Former Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) drops back for a pass in the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on September 22, 2016. File photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI
Former Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) drops back for a pass in the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on September 22, 2016. File photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo

The hunt for a quarterback continues for the Cleveland Browns, even after acquiring a really big one -- with a really big salary -- in a trade that shocked the rest of the NFL on the first day of the new league year.

Y'all know by now that the Houston Texans sent quarterback Brock Osweiler and a 2018 second-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick this year. The Texans figured giving up the second-round pick next year was a fair price to pay for unloading Osweiler's guaranteed $16 million 2017 salary.

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The Browns terminated the contracts of quarterback Josh McCown in February and Robert Griffin III on March 10 - one day after acquiring Osweiler and one day before Griffin was owed a $750,000 roster bonus.

The moves left Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan as the three quarterbacks on the roster. Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 and 14 for the Texans last year. He is 13-8 in those games, but the Browns clearly are not viewing the 6-foot-7, 2012 second-round Denver draft pick as their quarterback of the future.

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"Until we have the guy that we feel comfortable with, that will be the face of our franchise, and play QB the way we want them to play, we're going to keep searching," Browns head coach Hue Jackson said at the league meetings in Phoenix. "There's the draft that's coming up. There are trade opportunities, hopefully. We'll exhaust every opportunity."

The Browns pick first and 12th in the first round of the draft. They also have the first pick in the second round. They have been linked to trade rumors for Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for months. Different media reports say the Patriots won't trade him. Whether they are serious or driving the price up will be revealed before the first day of the draft April 27. They could also try to work a trade for Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron, whom Jackson coached in Cincinnati.

Quarterback isn't the only area that needs improvement. The Browns can help their anemic pass rush by using the first pick on Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, but they also have dire needs in the secondary at safety and cornerback.

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Whoever ends up playing quarterback for the Browns should get better protection than the ones who played the position last year when they gave up a franchise record 66 sacks.

The Browns signed guard Kevin Zeitler from the Bengals and center J.C. Tretter from the Packers on the first day of free agency. Since then they added center Marcus Martin from the 49ers and tackle Matt McCants, who was with the Raiders, Browns and Bears in 2016.

The biggest loss for the Browns in free agency was wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (to the Washington Redskins) although Jackson said the Browns made a significant offer to keep the quarterback-turned-receiver.

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Here is a closer look at where the Browns are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, No. 1 overall.

THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 4th AFC North (1-15)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 311.0 (30th)

RUSHING: 107.0 (19th)

PASSING: 204.0 (28th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 392.4 (31st)

RUSHING: 142.7 (31st)

PASSING: 249.8 (21st)

TEAM NEEDS

1. Quarterback: Trading for Brock Osweiler did not solve the Browns' quarterback problems. They will either trade for a veteran, possibly Jimmy Garoppolo of the Patriots or AJ McCarron of the Bengals, or they will draft one. The Browns have the first and 12th pick. They had a private workout with DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Patrick Mahomes of Texas A&M last month. They visited Deshaun Watson of Clemson on March 30 and worked out North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky the next day at team headquarters in Berea, Ohio (they can work out Trubisky at their facility because he attended high school in the Cleveland suburb of Mentor).

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2. Edge rusher: The Browns have to find a way to put more pressure on the opposing quarterback. There is no franchise quarterback in this draft, but defensive end Myles Garrett of Texas A&M can be a game-changer. Unless something very unusual happens between now and April 27, the Browns are expected to take Garrett with the first pick in the draft.

3. Cornerback: The Browns gave up a franchise worst 36 passing touchdowns last season. Left cornerback Joe Haden has had back-to-back disappointing seasons. Both were hampered by injuries. This draft is deep in cornerbacks. It will be no surprise if the Browns don't take at least two. They could take one with the 12th pick if they don't use it on a quarterback.

KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 5)

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

LB Jamie Collins: Potential UFA; $50M/4 yrs, $5M SB/$26.4M guaranteed.

P Britton Colquitt: Potential UFA; $11.2M/4 yrs, $4.5M guaranteed.

LS Charley Hughlett: Potential ERFA; 6 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

WR Kenny Britt: UFA Rams; $32.5M/4 yrs, $6.5M SB/$17M guaranteed, $6.5M injury only at time of signing.

T Matt McCants: UFA Bears; terms unknown.

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S Tyvis Powell (waivers Seahawks).

QB Brock Osweiler (trade Texans).

C/G JC Tretter: UFA Packers; $16.75M/3 yrs, $4.5M SB/$10M guaranteed, $3.5M injury only at time of signing.

WR James Wright (waivers Bengals).

G Kevin Zeitler: UFA Bengals; $60M/5 yrs, $12M SB/$31.5M guaranteed, $5M injury only at time of signing.

PLAYERS LOST

QB Robert Griffin III (released).

WR Andrew Hawkins (released).

QB Josh McCown (released).

DE Stephen Paea: UFA Cowboys; $2M/1 yr, $500K SB.

S Jordan Poyer: UFA Bills; $13M/4 yrs, $3.5M SB/$6M guaranteed, $1M injury only at time of signing.

WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.: UFA Redskins; $6M/1 yr, $3M SB/$6M guaranteed.

DB Tramon Williams (released).

MOCK DRAFT

NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 1 overall)

Rob Rang:

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. The clear top need in Cleveland is at quarterback, but frankly it would be a stunner if anyone other than Garrett was the first pick, as he is simply the best player in the draft. Garrett lived up to his hype at the Combine, dazzling with his combination of size (6-foot-4, 272 pounds), power (33 repetitions of 225 pounds) and speed (4.64) and explosiveness (41-inch vertical).

Dane Brugler:

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. The Combine basically confirmed this pick. Cleveland choosing Garrett is the easiest decision for a team picking No. 1 overall since the Colts drafted Andrew Luck.

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Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?

Based on the team's current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see NFLDraftScout.com's full mocks and ratings.

--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article.

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