Well, it’s that incredibly boring and annoying time of the NFL off-season where nothing is really happening except for rumours and counter-rumours are flying around and social media timelines are filled with “My sources say this is going to happen!” and “Yeah but my sources say this is going to happen!”— BORING!
So, because I’m bored of all the “experts” trying to keep themselves relevant by racing to be the first with the “news” and/or going against what others have said just so they stand out from the masses of Like, Follow, Share and Retweet hungry peeps, I’ve decided to have a little fun with a mock draft of my own.
This is more of a what I’d like to see the Cleveland Browns do in the first five rounds of the 2018 NFL draft rather than what I think they will do based on what my sources have told me 😉
How I Ran It
To stop me going into full-on Madden mode and picking all the best players through the five rounds, I needed a programme that could keep me in check and ensure that the other teams picked realistically as well.
To achieve this I used the website that I always like to go to at this time of year, Fanspeak. Don’t panic, that’s not an affiliate link if, for some bizarre reason, you don’t like clicking on them.
Just head to the ‘On the Clock’ draft simulator (not the ad for it at the top as that is trying to get you to pay for their premium programme, unless you want to), set it up and off you go — it’s really easy, but can sometimes load slowly due to the Adsense adverts all over it and sometimes the page can freeze so you can’t click anywhere. If it does this, just hit ‘Refresh’.
You can pick different big boards and teams needs which go towards determining how the other teams pick. I’ve generally found that I just go with the Fanspeak versions as they seem closer to what I think teams will do than the others.
I did use the WalterFootball version for one of my draft big boards and the draft was awesome but unrealistic. I was able to take OT Conor Williams in the third as well as QB Mason Rudolph and TE Dallas Goedert in the fourth. I doubt any of them will be available then.
Walter Football Big Board Draft
Yeah, I really did take two DB’s in the top 4 of the draft. I’m one that thinks the Browns should go for best available and they desperately need to up their game in the defensive secondary. I’d stick Derwin James at free safety and Minkah Fitzpatrick at CB with Jabrill Peppers moving to where he’s really good, box/strong safety. Both Fitzpatrick and James can play all over the place in the secondary at a high level so this would be awesome, even though I can’t see it happening, hehe.
Can you imagine the uproar if the Browns were to spend their first two picks at #1 and #4 on DB’s? Oh my word, it would be hilarious!
The next seven picks were spent on improving the offence as this is what is the main need (other than the defensive secondary).
Derrius Guice at RB, who I believe is considered to be the second best RB in the class, followed by a couple of good WR’s to finish off the second round as that’s a position of absolute need this off-season. Then a QB, couple of OT’s and a TE. Mason Rudolph seems to be slipping in peoples opinions but I think is decent at the top of the fourth round.
The rest was just for depth and the hope that a good player might be found.
Anyway, that was just a bit of messing around and Fitzpatrick and James have been the two players that I haven’t been able to decide between for quite a while now, so I took them both!
Fanspeak Big Board and Team Needs Settings
After I’d stopped pratting about with the unrealistic Walter Football big board (just my opinion), I decided I’d run one with the Fanspeak setup, as I see that as being a bit more accurate at this stage of things.
1.1 – DB, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Although I’ve said that Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick have been two players I haven’t been able to decide between for a while, I do believe that Fitzpatrick is the better fit for the Browns. From what I’ve read about James, he’d be better playing in a more strong safety role and I don’t want that in a rookie this year as I really want Jabrill Peppers in that role from now on.
Because of that, and because I think we desperately need a talent at deep safety, I really want to see the Browns pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. Yes, I’d make him the first overall selection as I rate him that highly and think he’s exactly what the Browns need in their defensive secondary. He’s very versatile and could cause problems for opposing offences.
1.4 – RB, Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Personally, I’d take him at #4 in a heartbeat, even with some of the top-rated QB’s still available here. The guy is touted as being special and able to turn the fortunes of an offence around, and that’s exactly the type of player the Browns need on their offence. I mean, come on, when a guy is likened to Barry Sanders and your offence was awful last season, how can you pass him up?
I’m still holding on to a glimmer of hope that the Browns can somehow surprise everyone and manage to entice Kirk Cousins to come be their franchise guy, even though people seem to be leaning towards him going to Denver or New York and the Jets. This glimmer of hope is what I’m basing my early mock draft on.
2.1 – WR, D.J. Moore, Maryland
I’m not sure the Browns are going to stick with Corey Coleman for much longer and have already seen suggestions that he’ll be available for trade this off-season. Whether he stays in Cleveland or not, the team desperately needs to overhaul its WR personnel as they’ve been absolute shite in recent times and with Coleman having had a broken hand at some stage of his first two seasons with the team, I’d have my doubts about his suitability.
D.J. Moore is 5’11” and real shifty so suited to playing in the slot. I’d like to see Josh Gordon sort himself out and stay clean this off-season and after he’s had another big payday (I’ll not hold my breath on the latter) so he can be the #1 guy on the outside. I’d also like to see the team bring Terrelle Pryor back to play opposite him to give the team their two big body guys with Moore in the slot — perfect (so long as Pryor can do as well as he did last time he was in Cleveland).
2.3 – ILB, Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
The team needs more quality depth at the linebacker position, in my opinion. Christian Kirksey is brilliant, Jamie Collins is naturally gifted and improves the defence even though I’m still not sold on his commitment and Joe Schobert was a great surprise with how good he is at the MLB position.
Still, the team needs more quality in depth, though. I like James Burgess Jr. but that’s about it as far as depth goes and the drop-off from Collins to him was evident.
I think Leighton Vander Esch looks good and gets a good write-up and would be perfect rotating with, probably, Joe Schobert and could even be an option at strongside LB after bulking up a bit.
2.32 – CB, Donte Jackson, LSU
A small but speedy cornerback who probably won’t start. Having said that, he has big-play potential with great quickness. At 5’11” and 175lbs, he could get pushed around during running plays so probably fits more as an obvious passing downs CB.
I took him this early as he seemed to be the best available here during this draft. This selection could very well change as the off-season process goes on.
3.1 – WR, Deon Cain, Clemson
Back to the wide receiver position to start off the third round of the draft. Deon Cain has decent size at 6’1″, 210lbs and is said to have speed, runs smooth routes and has an ability to read and understand coverage.
Sounds to me like another player who would be good playing on the outside meaning I’ve picked the future at the slot with D.J. Moore at 2.1, and now a very good (potentially) outside guy at 3.1. Suddenly the wide receiver unit doesn’t look so crap.
4.1 – QB, Mike White, Western Kentucky
I really liked the look of Mike White at the Senior Bowl and think he could be a decent QB in the NFL. He won’t come in and start straight away as it appears he will have to adjust to the game at the top level and learn to read the game better. He does have good size at 6’4″, 225lbs and a good arm to go with it.
I nabbed him at the top of round 4 but wouldn’t be surprised if he goes to round 5 for real. It all depends on his combine workout.
4.23 – WR, D.J. Chark, LSU
Yes, a third wide receiver. Did I not say how awful the Browns’ receivers were last season? If I were in charge at the Browns, I’d be adding quite a few to this position’s unit and see who comes out on top come roster cut day.
Chark has good height at 6’3″ and good speed to make himself a downfield threat. He’s another outside player who would come in and challenge for a roster spot and keep the likes of Pryor and Gordon on their toes (assuming they’d both be on the roster still).
The final round of my draft (I couldn’t’ be bothered with the final two rounds) was made up of selecting a good blocking TE in Dalton Schultz and a flexible interior lineman in Will Clapp who is a good guard and/or centre.
Clapp would be there for his flexibility which adds great depth to the roster on gameday. From reports on him, he’s not going to set a game on fire but he’s solid and that’s great for a backup.
Schultz would be brought in because I think the Browns already have two good receiving TE’s with David Njoku and Seth DeValve already on the roster so a good blocking TE is needed and that’s what Schultz does best. He’s supposed to be decent in the short passing game but it’s for his good blocking technique that will get him seeing playing time early in his career as he helps Saquon Barkley to be everything we all hope he will be (if he comes to Cleveland that is).
So, there we go, that’s my early mock draft for the 2018 NFL draft done via the Fanspeak platform. Why don’t you head on over there and have a play with it for yourself and see what you can come up with for your team.
We all know that things are going to change as NFL free agency opens and players get signed and potential rookies do stupid things that mean their draft stock drops etc. but it’s all a bit of fun and lets us know what we all want to see our teams take this year.
When you’ve done a few, why not post your best one here in the comments for us to see.