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2020 NFL Draft Grade: Cleveland Browns

The 2020 NFL Draft was an event never seen before; it was all remote and simulcasted on ABC, ESPN, & NFL Network. According to Field Yates, the draft brought in 55 million viewers over the three days averaging roughly 8.4 million viewers per day. There were some surprises for every team, some more head-scratching than others, but when it came to the Cleveland Browns, they knocked it out of the park. Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus tweeted that the Browns were one of the four teams to get an A+ draft grade.

Here on Downtown Browns, I’ll be giving my personal grade on all of the Browns draft picks from the 2020 NFL Draft.

Round 1 (10th Overall): Jedrick Wills Jr, Tackle (Alabama)

Coming into the NFL Draft no one knew for sure where Jedrick Wills Jr. would end up by drafts end. Some analysts were projecting him in the Top 5, even some as low at 8th overall. It didn’t seem like the Cleveland Browns were going to get their hands on a tackle that many believed to be the best Tackle in the draft coming out of college. Wills was in a group alongside Andrew Thomas, Mekhi Becton, & Triston Wirfs were any one of them could go in a run of tackles in round 1. It was surprising to some when Thomas went first to the New York Giants at 4th overall. By the time the Browns got on the clock, Wills, Becton and Wirfs were still on the board. Once again just like 2018, the Browns could go after their guy at tackle, and boy did they ever. Former Browns tackle Joe Thomas said that Wills is the most NFL ready OT in the draft and once the Browns picked him, I think the future Hall of Famer was pretty excited:

Wills is just that guy who is a first-year starter that you can plug in at left tackle since the Browns signed former Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin during the off-season. At the combine, Wills ran a 5.05 40-yard dash and had a vertical of 34.5 inches. This guy is a physical specimen and someone who can be a solid anchor on that offensive line. It will take a couple months but I see Wills being that blindside tackle to protect Baker Mayfield and block for Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt in the ground game.

Grade: A+

 

Round 2 (44th Overall): Grant Delpit, Safety (LSU)

After a stellar day 1 of the draft, people were wondering what the Browns would do next in rounds 2, and 3. Some believed that they would go after positions of need, Linebacker and Safety being key components to help shore up holes that the team had during the off-season. By the time pick 44 rolled around, the Browns had a choice of many safeties and they went after the guy they thought that was their main guy. Grant Delpit was given a lower draft rank because of the lack of tackles last season despite playing all of the season hurt with a high ankle sprain. He played through it all year but once the College Football Playoffs rolled around, he was back to his 2018 former self. He had ten tackles in the National Title game which in of itself is mind-blowing. During the combine process, it was clear that Delpit was tired of the tackling issues with the media asking him questions about it. Delpit from the jump could be the guy to come into whatever type of camp that the NFL will have this season and could take the starting job from job 1. Many people believed that with the Browns trading back from 41 to 44 in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts and still get Delpit, the Browns looked brilliant. This guy when healthy can be one of the best safeties in all of college football. Many teams slept on him and now that he is in Cleveland with former LSU Tigers in Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr and fellow 2019 teammate Jacob Phillips, keep an eye on this guy to ball out from the jump.

Grade: A

 

Round 3 (88th Overall): Jordan Elliott, DT (Missouri)

Now in round 3 is where it got a little interesting before the end of day 2 of the draft. There was a good number of analysts who thought that the Browns would go after a wide receiver or linebacker at 88 in the draft but instead, they took Defensive Tackle Jordan Elliott of Missouri. At first, it was a head-scratcher of a move by the team but in reality, the Browns got a key piece on the defensive side of the ball for the future. In a room that already had Richardson, Ogunjobi, and Billings, why go after a DT? Simple, it was for depth and someone they can see who could become a starter one day. Marc Sessler of the NFL Network and NFL.com gives some insight as to why the Brownd picked Elliott at 88 and frankly, it makes sense:

The Browns picked a kid who can be a force to be reckoned with the right coaching in Cleveland. To be that high in college football in terms of pass-rushing is something to take notice of. This pick of Elliott set the precedent for what the rest of the draft would become for the Browns.

Grade: B+

 

Round 3 (97th Overall): Jacob Phillips, Linebacker (LSU)

The Browns would end their day 2 of the draft by taking LSU Tigers linebacker Jacob Phillips at the 97th overall pick. This would be the end of an SEC run of picks that included Phillips teammate Grant Delpit from round 2. When the pick was announced, Browns fans were split on this choice because at the time Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison was on the board as well. But, taking Phillips in my eyes was the better choice. Last season Phillips had zero missed tackles and only missed 3 out of 88 in 2018. Missing three total tackles in two seasons is phenomenal. Many analysts consider Phillips to be the best tackler in college football and now you pair him up with Mack Wilson, that’s a recipe to make an offense worry about blitzes and blowing up runs in the process. Look for Phillips to be the Mike linebacker on the second level of that defense which is behind a formidable defensive line. Phillips will be one of five LSU Tigers on this team that includes Landry, Beckham, Greedy Williams, and Delpit. All things considered, the Browns had a massive day two with getting Delpit, Elliott and ending it with Phillips.

Grade: B+

 

Round 4 (115th Overall): Harrison Bryant, Tight End (Florida Atlantic)

If you thought round 2 had any indication that round 3 would be the day full of steals, you would be right. At the 115th overall pick, the Browns started off the last day of the draft in style. They were able to pick up the 2019 John Mackey Award for the best tight end in college football by way of Harrison Bryant. Bryant is the first non-power 5 player to accomplish this feat with the Owls. Buckeyes fans would remember this guy when FAU came to The Shoe and had over 70 yards of receiving on what was the best defense in college football. Bryant was a converted offensive lineman who became a tight end that Lane Kiffin leaned on for the 2019 season. Despite signing Austin Hooper in free agency, the Browns locked up their third tight end that will help in the wide zone scheme where there is a lot of two tight ends sets. The Browns knew going into the draft that they needed that guy to backup Hooper and David Njoku and they certainly did in Bryant. He does need to work on his hands but this guy will learn fast in a system where tight ends are a key component in the offensive scheme.  I see this guy making an impact for the next few years to come.

Grade: A

 

Round 5 (160th Overall): Nick Harris, Center (Washington)

In the trade back in the second round with the Indianapolis Colts that resulted in the Browns going back from 41 to 44 also garnered them a pick in the fifth round at pick 160. That pick would come to some good use as they picked Washington center Nick Harris. Harris was originally a guard on both sides of the offensive line but before his junior year he was converted to center which in the end helped him in many ways. He would go onto becoming a two-time first-team All-PAC 12 player in his junior and senior year. The Browns see him as a guy who can wide into their wide zone scheme along with helping out at depth in guard since he has some experience their. It is clear that he is the center of the future behind J.C. Tretter since the Browns needed to pickup a backup center and to be able to snag him in the fifth round with a third round grade is a solid pickup by the Browns at 160.

Grade: B+

 

Round 6 (187th Overall): Donovan Peoples-Jones, Wide Receiver (Michigan)

Earlier I stated that day 3 of the draft would be the day of the Browns making steals, well, you won’t look farther than them getting Donovan Peoples-Jones as their last pick in the sixth round. Many considered DPJ to be a fourth-round selection, but to get him in the sixth just shows that with patience the draft will come to you. DPJ had a 44 inch vertical that blew many away. Grant it at Michigan he did fall through the cracks of constant offensive scheme changes, this guy has hands and can jump for 50/50 balls like none other. The Browns were looking to add a solid #3 receiver behind Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr, and I think that they did that with DPJ. Give him some time you will see the guy that had Ohio State and Michigan as his two last school choices before going off to play in college. In a wide zone scheme where it is mostly two receivers but sometimes can add a third, adding a big body wide receiver with a massive jump will give the Browns certain mismatches in the secondary especially in red zone territory.  The Browns got a huge steal in DPJ in the sixth round when he could have gone two rounds earlier. Don’t sleep on this guy when it comes time for the 2020 season to begin.

Grade: B+

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Browns had considerably one of the best drafts in terms of finding athletic guys who can fit into Kevin Stefanski’s wide zone scheme and the defensive scheme that can lead the Browns to a potential playoff appearance. They let the draft come to them, traded a couple of times to move back while grabbing assets to bolster a team that looked poised to make a playoff birth the season before. After one draft under the Andrew Berry/Kevin Stefanski era, we could see a Browns team that should have made the playoffs last year with a scheme that has been proven to carry teams to the playoffs and more. Overall, I think the Browns did phenomenal in this year’s draft getting athletic and talented players that fit well into this scheme. This will make for an interesting few months before pre-season and the 2020 regular season as a whole.

Overall Grade: A

Zach Martin
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