TheMMQB 3-Round Mock Draft: The Cleveland Browns

Pete Smith

Kevin Hanson produced a three-round mock draft for TheMMQB and obviously, that means he projected four of the Cleveland Browns seven picks. It's incredibly difficult to do mock drafts, especially three-rounds for all 32 teams, 106 picks in all. With all due respect to Hanson, it's time to nitpick the selections for the Browns, see which make sense and which ones simply don't.

10. Cleveland Browns: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Even though the Browns have agreed to a three-year deal with free-agent right tackle Jack Conklin, the team could be in the market to upgrade both tackle spots. Not only is left tackle Greg Robinson a free agent, but right tackle Chris Hubbard graded out as PFF’s 76th-best offensive tackle (among 81 qualifiers) last season. A mountain of a man at 6' 7" and 364 pounds with vines for arms (35 5/8"), the 20-year-old Becton has work to do on technique, but he has unique movement skills for a man his size.

Mekhi Becton is one of the most remarkable prospects in recent history because he looks like something out of ancient mythology. He simply enormous and athletic for his size. His potential is tantalizing for most any team. But there are several reasons Becton seems unlikely to be in the Browns draft plans.

First, the Browns are employing the same wide zone scheme that head coach Kevin Stefanski employed when he was the offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. The signing of Jack Conklin emphasizes what they want in prospects. Movement skills, the ability to play technically sound football, win with position and technique.

None of that is to say that Becton can't do those things. The Browns don't know if he can do it for they want and do it consistently. They also don't need Atlas to play left tackle, putting the world on his shoulders. If they got him, they'd be happy to have them, but what they want to avoid at left tackle is a high amount of volatility. Becton is incredibly talented, but he's not consistent. Outside of movement skills, that might be the thing the Browns want most in their offensive linemen, particularly at left tackle.

The player who Hanson has going to the New York Jets, at 11th pick, Andrew Thomas, not only has the movement skills the Browns want, but was incredibly consistent in pass protection at Georgia. He needs to be a more consistent run blocker, but he's a far better fit for the Browns than Becton.

The last point that works against Becton is tempo. Becton may be a demigod at 6'7" 364, but he likely limits how fast a team can go. Increasingly, teams utilize tempo as a weapon on offense as a way to create confusion for defenses before the snap as well as limit their ability to sub. It's really difficult to imagine that Becton wouldn't be negatively impacted by an offense trying to go fast, potentially multiple times per game. It just doesn't seem like a good fit for the Browns.

41. Cleveland Browns: Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

I love Zack Baun. I think he's an outstanding football player that could be terrific in the NFL. The only question is whether the Browns view him as an edge rusher, playing a LEO type role in addition to potentially being a base SAM or if they view him as an off-ball linebacker.

If the Browns view Baun as someone that can play SAM, then move up to rush the passer in subpackages, this pick makes a ton of sense. Baun can rotate with Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, forming a really nice tandem. Undersized, Baun has been tremendously successful with his speed and flexibility. He could take over for Vernon in a season and become a true LEO opposite Garrett.

If the Browns view him as an off-ball linebacker, then it doesn't make much sense. They don't value the position that much and it limits his ability to impact the game, making it a poor use of resources. Clearly, the writer is looking at this through the edge rusher lens.

74. Cleveland Browns: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State

Based on the emphasis the Browns seem to be putting on linebackers, Malik Harrison seems like a tremendous fit. He's a tremendous run stopper that can work through contact, track down ball carriers laterally and plays with toughness in the box. That's what the Browns would want from him, trying to win on first down, to then get to their subpackages in 2nd-and-long.

Harrison hasn't done much in pass defense. He tested really well, so if that's something he can add to his game, it's a bonus. The bottom line is the Browns would be targeting Harrison to stop the run and be a hammer in short yardage and goal line situations. Their normal defense will feature players that are better equipped to defend against the pass and impact the quarterback. 

97. Cleveland Browns (via HOU): Tyler Biadasz, IOL, Wisconsin

I think the Browns want to get another center behind J.C. Tretter. Teams typically want to carry three players that can snap heading into a game. And Tyler Biadasz is a highly decorated center from his time at Wisconsin. I'm just not sure the Browns will target one this early. Tretter is remarkable in his ability to play through pain as illustrated the past two seasons, particularly 2018, in which he basically never practiced, only playing on Sundays with a severe high-ankle sprain all season. 

The team also seems to think that players like Wyatt Teller and potentially Drew Forbes can snap in a pinch, plus Willie Wright is coming back on a reserves/futures contract as a possible center. There are some other notable areas that may be a higher priority to address this high in the draft, including safety, wide receiver and a 3-tech defensive tackle.

Overall

The positions are right, all issues the Browns do have to address. Perhaps center is the only one that the Browns may not address in the draft, but the other positions are right on and addressed at spots that make sense for the Browns in terms of when they might want to address them. I don't think the Browns are interested in Becton. Baun is entirely a question of whether the Browns are concerned about his size to be an edge rusher. Harrison seems like an ideal fit. Hanson is on the right track with the Browns.

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