The Cleveland Browns are the center of the Football Universe as the NFL Draft is being hosted by the city of Cleveland starting tonight. The Browns hold the 26th overall pick with numerous needs, especially on the defensive end. In this article, we will examine who are the Browns best fits for them at #26. We have separated them into 2 different categories. Our first is more unrealistic, a “Believe it when I see it” group that most likely won’t make it to #26. The other group is players that most likely should be on the board at #26. So with it being Draft Day, let’s not waste any more time and reveal who the Browns best fits are at #26.
I’ll Believe It When I See It
WR Rashod Bateman Minnesota- He silenced all doubters of his speed with his 40-yard time. Bateman brings ball skills and route running to go with his size give the Browns a potential different kind of target opposite Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, who are smaller and rely heavily on their outstanding route running. Bateman can win with his size, something the Browns could use in the WR room.
CB Jaycee Horn South Carolina- If the Browns don’t target a CB in FA or trade, they will have to get a CB in the draft and Horn could potentially end up being the best CB in this draft, but he’s hasn’t been in the top CB discussion until recently with Caleb Farley’s health question marks. It’s questionable as to why because Horn does everything both of them can do and has the size and athleticism to go with it. There’s no way he falls to #26, but if he even slips, the Browns should strongly consider moving up.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Notre Dame- Without question, there wasn’t a more impactful LB last season in terms of leadership and impact he had in games. Owusu-Koramoah checks off all the boxes the Browns need in a linebacker: athletic, coverage skills, high motor, and Playmaking ability. He’s undersized, which could end up benefiting the Browns, but his talent is too good to pass up, even if he’s considered an LB/S Hybrid. If anything, that makes him more valuable in an NFL where versatility is valued.
LB Zaven Collins Tulsa- For a lot of Browns fans, he’s the guy fans want. For a team that is in desperate need of a playmaking LB, Collins fits the bill of what the fans think is the missing ingredient of the defense. He can rush the passer, he can stop the run, he can defend the pass. He’s proven he’s a do-it-all linebacker. The problem is with his prototypical size and outstanding athleticism make it extremely unlikely that he could make it to #26 overall. I currently have him going #18 overall to the Miami Dolphins in Mock 4.0.
CB Caleb Farley Virginia Tech- This was a situation that was unthinkable two months ago as Farley was a lock to go To 10, but his medicals and concerns from having 2 back surgeries recently. While it seems he’s medically cleared, the back injuries, as well as a past ACL tear, will make him fall in the draft. His tape shows he’s a showdown CB when healthy. He is in a lot of ways exactly what the Browns need and is worth the risk. The question is will another team in the late 20s who didn’t think he’d be available try to move up and take him? It’s doubtful he slides all the way to 26.
Top 5 Player Fits for the Browns at #26
5. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu Syracuse- A lot of people have him as a 2nd Round Grade, but with so few 1st Round graded players, at #26 you’re looking at 2nd Round talents. The Browns need an outside corner and with Melifonwu’s size and athleticism, he can easily slide into that outside corner role and be a starter. Melifonwu fits better in a zone scheme, which is a lot of what Joe Woods will ask of him. He fits the scheme the Browns will run and he checks off all the boxes. Wouldn’t be shocked if they reached in a sense in the right scenario for Melifonwu.
4. S Trevon Moehrig TCU- Do the Browns really need a Safety? No…not really. The Browns have Ronnie Harrison and a returning Grant Delpit, not to mention the major signing of John Johnson III The question really comes with Delpit, who is coming off an Achilles injury. For that alone, the Browns have to consider safety if one presents themselves. That very well could be Trevon Moehrig. He’s a true centerfield FS, who was a major leader of the TCU defense. His ball skills and range are outstanding to go with the fact he can play man and zone coverage. Like some free safeties, he lacks in some run support areas, but he’s highly competitive and his weaknesses in tackling can easily be coached up. For the Browns, if you’re not sold on Delpit returning to full health as a potential Free Safety, it may be best to consider Moehrig and have 3 talented safeties to build with.
3. WR Elijah Moore Ole Miss- I mean, if the board falls a certain way, the Browns should seriously consider WR. It’s possible Bateman could fall and if he does, they should get him. But if not, Elijah Moore has to be in consideration. He’s as smooth of a route runner as you’re going to find. He’s also explosive and capable of breaking away from defenders for a big play. While he’s undersized, his tape screams it doesn’t matter and he plays bigger. He’s a potential WR1 who in Mock 4.0 I compared to OBJ. Put him in the same room to learn from OBJ? He could be a superstar at the next level.
2. DT Christian Barmore Alabama- After the release of Sheldon Richardson, this would fill a major hole on the defense. Barmore is explosive and ranked in the 99th and 98th percentile in Pass Rush and Run Defense respectively according to PFF. The guy makes plays and would create a dynamic trio on the line with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney that would give opposing O-Lines headaches. The question with Barmore is can he be a 3 Down player? He never has been that guy and there are questions about him being coached up. He needs a strong culture and Cleveland actually offers that. Is the pick a potential risk? Yes. Does it fill a need and could pay off big time? Yes. Unless the Browns are going to find a way to bring back Sheldon Richardson, Barmore needs to be discussed for 26. The talent and need are too good to pass on.
1. CB Greg Newsome Northwestern- By simple projections of who could be there at #26, in terms of need and fit, there isn’t a debate who the top player at #26 is. Greg Newsome checks every box the Browns have openly said they target. He’s extremely young, he’s got the size for the position, and most importantly graded extremely well athletically. The Browns need an outside corner and Newsome has the ability to at least be a great CB2 or even be the main shutdown corner. The thought of pairing Newsome with Ward, allowing Greedy to recover and get back up to speed, then you move Troy Hill to his best position as a slot CB…the Browns have a dangerous CB core going into 2021.
Honorable Mention- Trade Down- Look, there are plenty of options for the Browns to fill their biggest needs. So the question is, why not trade down and collect either assets to use to move up from 59 or even collecting for the future. Add to that at key positions where the Browns need talent like pass rusher and linebacker, there will be plenty of options in the 2nd Round. Why not trade down, collect more picks and still get a talented player? In theory, this would be an Andrew Berry type of move and one that perfectly fits the Browns’ plans. It might be in the Browns’ best interest to try to scare a team in the Early 2nd Round or even a team like Green Bay or Kansas City a few picks after them to get them to move up to get their guy from the Browns. I think quite honestly if I were a betting man, the heavy favorite on what the Browns will do at 26 is trade down unless a top prospect falls to them. They didn’t force the issue last year picking Jedrick Wills and were clearly willing to move down if their guy wasn’t there. I’d expect them to be open for business no matter what.
For the Browns, they hold all the cards at #26. It seems like the board may fall in their favor one way or another. It’s up to Andrew Berry and co. to figure out what move they want to make. Could it be possibly trading up to assure they get their guy? Maybe they stay put or trade down because there’s better value later. While it’s weird for Browns fans to not be in the Top 10 picks, it’s exciting to see no matter what the Browns have a great opportunity to address their roster and fill it with impact players for the 2021 team. It should shape up for an interesting next few days as the Browns build on dare we say for once…a SUPER BOWL CONTENDER.