NFL Draft 2017 preview: Cleveland Browns' top needs, pick predictions

By Frank Cooney, NFLDraftScout.com  |  April 19, 2017 at 2:01 PM
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This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Cleveland Browns have the No.'s 1 and 12 picks in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five 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 pick and 12th pick in the first round. They had a private workout with DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Patrick Mahomes of Texas A&M in March. They visited Deshaun Watson of Clemson and worked out Mitchell Trubisky privately.

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. Safety: The back end of the Browns' defense wasn't good last year, and their best safety, Jordan Poyer, left through free agency to sign with the Buffalo Bills. The Browns tried to improve the position in free agency, but were unsuccessful. Malik Hooker from Ohio State might be difficult to resist if he slips to 12. Then the decision could come down to quarterback or safety with their second first-round pick.

4. 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 two. They signed right cornerback Jamar Taylor to a contract extension, but depth is a definite problem that could be solved with picks 33 and 52 in the second round and the first pick in the third round, pick 65 overall.

5. Right tackle: The interior of the offensive line was fortified by signing guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter, but right tackle is still a weak link. Cameron Erving, the 2015 first-round pick, failed at center last year but will get the chance to compete for the right tackle job. Analysts say this is a weak draft for tackles, so the Browns' best bet might be to wait for roster cuts in training camp to ultimately find their starter.

BEST FIT

No. 1 overall: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. There is no premier quarterback in this draft, so the Browns can get the next best thing - a premier pass rusher. The Browns were one of the worst defenses in the NFL last year because they had difficulty pressuring the quarterback, ranking 29th in sacks per pass play. Garrett had 31 sacks in three years in college. Garrett is big, fast and strong, and he has the fiery attitude the Browns need to change the defense. There is nothing not to like about him.

No. 12 overall: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina. The Browns can take a quarterback with the 12th pick. The question is whether they'll be able to get the one they want. Head coach Hue Jackson demands accuracy, and that would give Trubisky the edge over Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer. Trubisky completed 68 percent of his passes last fall while throwing 30 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. Trubisky won't be ready to start immediately, but the Browns are willing to give him time to develop.

PREDICTION

Rob Rang, No. 1: Myles Garrett, OLB, 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), power (33 repetitions of 225 pounds) and speed (4.64) and explosiveness (41-inch vertical).

Rob Rang, No. 12: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina. The splashy trade for Brock Osweiler is not likely to keep Cleveland from drafting another quarterback. Trubisky is obviously a roll of the dice given that he only started one year for the Tar Heels, but he showed impressive accuracy, athleticism and pocket awareness in 2016. The Ohio native possesses the combination of upside and intangibles that Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson prioritized with their draft picks a year ago.

Dane Brugler, No. 1: Myles Garrett, OLB, 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.

Dane Brugler, No. 12: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama. Do the Browns need an upgrade at quarterback? In the worst way. But is the "right" quarterback in this class? Time will tell. If Cleveland goes with another position player here, Howard, who was coached by Hue Jackson and the Browns' staff at the Senior Bowl, makes a lot of sense.

Jim Miller, No. 1: Myles Garrett, OLB, Texas A&M.

Pat Kirwan, No. 12: Pat works the phones and after a multi-team shuffle, this pick goes to the Philadelphia Eagles, who take Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State.

Frank Cooney, IMO: In real life, I would try to trade down, but nobody is answering my mock phone. So, I'll take the road most traveled: No. 1 Myles Garrett, OLB, Texas A&M and, at No. 12, Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina.

OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

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