I’ve zeroed in on twelve players you’ll be hearing a lot about in the upcoming months with the draft approaching. These are the top players with the exception of the Quarterback position. The Browns have two picks in the first round, and we’ll touch on QB’s at another point, but one of these players have a strong chance of playing with the team in the future. Let’s dive in.
The one liners at the end is the nugget you can tell your friend about with this player. Most likely what the talking heads will use as the draft gets closer.
Myles Garrett – Texas A&M – DE – This is the easiest one to talk about. If you’re reading this, you know the strengths already. Elite pure pass rusher, versatile, can play with his hand in the ground or standing. Garrett put on some weight in the off season heading into last year, and I would expect him to add another 10-15 pounds. It’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be more of a “snap to whistle” player at the next level. He had an injury last year, and the big worry was how many plays he took off to protect his health.
One Liner: His versatility and ability to play on both sides of the line will be favorable for Greg Williams who says he won’t stick to a traditional front.
Browns Factor: A great pick for the team, but at what cost? If they take Garrett, it comes at the expense of their choice at quarterback. If they take Garrett, it likely means they addressed the quarterback spot in free agency.
Jonathan Allen – Alabama – DL – Allen is one of the more interesting players in this draft. I could see teams using him in many different ways, but wonder if most teams will fall into the traditional styles we tend to see. The NFL is very niche and specific. He has the ability to go outside or inside, but there’s nothing truly defined there. At 6’3 he lacks height and isn’t very long for most defensive ends, but he comes off extremely flexible for that size. His athleticism is off the charts, and that covers a lot of questions, but as the draft approaches we’ll hear more of how much talent he was surrounded with at Alabama playing into his success.
One Liner: He produced in college, curious to see where teams see his role as better inside or outside on the line.
Browns Factor: Allen likely won’t ever end up in a Browns uniform. He’s too good to ever end up at twelve, but not better than Garrett to have the team look at him at number one.
Jamal Adams – LSU – S – When the Browns moved Pierre Desir to safety and told him to be the “Sheriff”, this is what they had in mind. Clearly, that was a reach, but the same type of mold was to be desired. Adams can do it all as an interchangeable safety. He can do everything from tracking slot receivers to handling coverage responsibilities against tight ends. Not really worried if he hits in the 4.5 to 4.55 range with his 40 time, obviously sub 4.5 is ideal, but long speed seems to be just alright with Adams.
One Liner: Very impressive, an NFL ready prospect on day one.
Browns Factor: The best safety in the class to me. It wouldn’t surprise me if he went to the pro bowl in his rookie season and has that type of impact right away. A good fit for the Browns, just not a realistic opportunity since he won’t slide back to twelve.
Malik Hooker – OSU – S – Always seems to be around the ball. Has a very instinctive game, which can’t be taught, but can be dangerous at the next level. Consistently able to key off the pass keys early, and a proactive player, not simply reacting to the play. There’s a lot that will throw red flags with teams around Hooker though. One year of experience, extremely raw, and missing the combine after surgery.
One Liner: High risk/high reward player for teams and a great pick for someone willing to let him work out problems he’ll face early.
Browns Factor: I could see him being available at twelve for the Browns if things break right. A good player for a team that is willing to let him develop into the player a lot of scouts feel he’ll become. Needs to go to a team with patience and time and the Browns are just that.
Solomon Thomas – Stanford – DE – Thomas has seen a big jump in the draft boards and has to be considered a top 10 pick at this point. Has the tweener label, and rightfully so. Not big enough to play inside and will likely end up as a defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4. He’s an exceptional athlete with the pedigree to prove it though, and the stats to back it up. 8 sacks and 15 tackles for loss mixed with a dominating performance against UNC and it’s easy to see why scouts are intrigued.
One Liner: Allen and Garrett are on a different level, but the drop off in talent isn’t as big as many think.
Browns Factor: Three months ago we might’ve been able to have the conversation of Thomas being there at twelve for the Browns. Time has passed and Thomas’s stock has only gotten better. If he’s left at twelve, the Browns should pounce, but that’s looking more like a wish than a reality with each passing day.
Leonard Fournette – LSU – RB – Feels like this has been years in the making. The running back position has been devalued, but with Ezekial Elliot at four last year and Todd Gurley at ten the year prior, Fournette cracking the top ten should be a layup. Fournette runs angry and uses his size to give brutal hits on defenders. Hard to bring down, and checks off the majority of the boxes you’d expect. His weakness has always been his vision, the anti-Leveon Bell in letting plays develop and finding holes.
One Liner: If this was the Earl Campbell era where four running backs went one overall in a five year stretch, he’d be an easy selection at the top of the draft.
Browns Factor: I love Fournette, and am not shy about that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has as much of an impact as Gurley or Zeke had as fast as they did too. I just don’t believe with the faith the Browns have shown Isiah Crowell and Duke Johnson that they’re looking at the running back position. He also won’t be there at twelve.
Dalvin Cook – Florida State – RB – The Indians landed their home run hitter in Edwin Encarnacion, whoever gets Cook will land theirs as well. Underrated in the receiving game and of course can make you pay after the catch. Always worried about him holding onto the ball as fumbles are a major concern. Carries the rock high and tight at times.
One Liner: Injury concerns mixed with trouble off the field with the law will be his biggest detriment to cracking the top 15.
Browns Factor: Dalvin is a better Isiah Crowell. They share similar traits, Cook just does it better. I still don’t think running back is an avenue Hue wants to go down right now.
Marshon Lattimore – Ohio State – CB – The best corner in the draft. Above Teez Tabor and Sidney Jones who should both go in the first round themselves. What jumps off the page is his hips and change of direction skills. Flips the hips without losing much speed. In space is able to maintain balance in and out of his breaks.
One Liner: Hamstring injuries and lack of experience didn’t help, but teams will overlook that with his skill set.
Browns Factor: My top rated corner and by a considerable amount. This could be in play for the Browns, but it’ll take some help from the draft Gods. Lattimore should go somewhere in the 6-10 range, but is that much better than Tabor and Jones who will be taken in the 10-20 range.
Reuben Foster – Alabama – ILB – This a tough one cause linebacker comes down to preference often. I like guys that maybe are a little bit slower but are always around the football. Foster at a 4.64 40 shows speed, even though his play speed appears quicker, but is caught taking initial false steps away from the football. His best trait is his tackling and the ferocious style that he does it instantly stands out. Fun to watch.
One Liner: Favorite go to line from your favorite scouts as the draft approaches is the 15-20 pounds he dropped last offseason.
Browns Factor: A position the Browns need help in, and should be there at number twelve. The question is whether or not you want to use ILB as your second choice in the first round. He’s a top talent, and one that Greg Williams would love to see the Browns take.
Mike Williams – Clemson – WR – If the football Gods created a wide receiver, aesthetically, he’d come out like Mike Williams. Looks the part in all the measurables at 6’3 225 and a 4.4 40. Has plus ability to catch the ball away from his body, a natural hands catcher. Stretching the field is his best attribute, but can work multiple levels of the field.
One Liner: A lot he does reminds me of *gasp Andre Johnson, and that’s a really good thing for Mike Williams future.
Browns Factor: Between Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor there’s just not a fit here. He’s a true number one receiver and the Browns already have a battle for that title.
Cam Robinson – Alabama – OT – It’s not a great class for offensive lineman, but Robinson sits at the top. Run blocking is his best attribute, which has me believing he’d project out as a better RT than LT. Massive upper body and size. Balance issues is the main theme with Robinson, and there’s too much here for me to believe he’ll be projected as high as people think. Could easily see him dropping as the draft approaches.
One Liner: Arrested for marijuana and a stolen handgun doesn’t help as he headlines a weak offensive lineman class.
Browns Factor: The best offensive lineman in the draft, but he has been sliding in recent weeks.I like him more than Ryan Ramczyk who is gaining traction despite injuries and one season of play. If he’s there at the top of the second round, the Browns would have to take him and slide him into RT and not worry.
Teez Tabor – Florida – CB – One of the more interesting cases this draft. Has the traits desired, but often looks scared against faster receivers. If he misses, he has a lack of recovery, and plays like he knows that. Pure cover corner, not nearly as talented as Lattimore, but should get a boost at the combine. Amazing to think Florida had him and Hargreaves at the same time.
One Liner: More off the field questions and could see teams going Marshon Lattimore then Sidney Jones to not deal with the headache. Of course, that didn’t go well for the Vikings when they took Trae Waynes over Marcus Peters.
Browns Factor: Tabor will be there for the Browns at twelve, but I would hate to see them go for it. There’s a lot the team would have to work around with his off field problems. Second best corner in the draft, but the difference between him and Lattimore is pretty big in my eyes.
Jonathan is a certified scout through the National Football Post. He also led national radio coverage of the draft the past two years with former Panthers GM Marty Hurney for Yahoo! Sports Radio.