Cleveland Browns Mock Draft 2014: Latest 7-Round Predictions and Analysis
And with 10 picks in his back pocket—seven on the first two days—general manager Ray Farmer has a unique chance to turn the franchise from perpetual doormats to sustained AFC contenders overnight.
Given the gravity of the situation, he will hopefully take the opportunity to make a name for himself by landing several key contributors in this very talented class. Prior to the start of the combine, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call with reporters and labeled the 2014 crop the deepest class he’s seen in 10 years (h/t Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree).
Before we start, don’t forget to share your praises, gripes and favorite mock draft scenarios in the comments section below.
Enough foreplay, let’s get to the mock. With the fourth pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns select…
Note: All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
4. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Everyone who watches Johnny Manziel play football sees something different. For some, he’s a game-changing quarterback with arm talent and overall skills unlike any we have seen in a very long time. For others, he’s a prima donna who will flame out or get injured before he realizes the massive hype being built up around him.
No matter where you stand on the issue, the Browns are obviously interested. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and Berea, Ohio is pumping it out faster than Manziel can rack up endorsement deals.
Recently, Bleacher Report NFL draft lead writer Matt Miller reported he was told ownership—Jimmy Haslam—and head coach Mike Pettine are sold on the polarizing QB prospect:
Similarly, in Cleveland, sources tell me it's ownership and head coach Mike Pettine who want Manziel, with position coaches and scouts preferring wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Haslam has already shown he is capable of being a "handsy," Jerry Jones-type owner with how he handled the personnel department so far, so it wouldn't be crazy to think he'd nudge Ray Farmer in one way or the other on draft day.
The Browns also worked out Johnny Football in College Station on April 19, and are set to bring him to Cleveland for a subsequent visit, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Browns officials in College Station, Texas, today to work out QB Johnny Manziel, who also will visit Cleveland this week.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 19, 2014
The Browns have also worked out every passer with a working throwing arm, so just a visit alone isn't indicative of anything to be sure. He isn't a perfect prospect after all, and no one is claiming that's the case.
But Manziel is a better passer than some will admit, and he has the intangibles and determination needed to succeed and turn the Browns franchise around. Don't take my word for it, look at the stats. According to Sharon Katz of ESPN Stats & Info, Manziel improved his efficiency from 65- to 73-percent as a pocket passer in 2013.
And after displaying the arm strength to make all the NFL throws during his March 27 pro day, the reasons to not bring Johnny Football to Cleveland are beginning to disappear.
26. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State (From IND)
Swapping out Karlos Dansby for D’Qwell Jackson was a likely upgrade, but adding another—and obviously younger—talent to the linebacker corps has to be a big focus for Ray Farmer on draft day.
Ryan Shazier could travel a couple hours north to do what he did at Ohio State for the Cleveland Browns: tackle everything in sight.
With the athleticism, strength and instincts to play on every down, Shazier is an ideal fit for Mike Pettine’s attacking defense. His elite quickness and ability to get through the line of scrimmage and rush the passer will also come in handy when teams key in on edge rushers Barkevious Mingo, Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard.
The question, to me, isn’t whether or not to draft Shazier. It’s whether or not Cleveland would have to trade up above the Green Bay Packers to land him.
35. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Some might have preferred a wide receiver like Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans instead of a quarterback at the No. 4 slot. They’ll get over that quickly after they see Allen Robinson catching passes during training camp.
Although he had a disappointing 4.6-second 40-yard dash time at the combine, Robinson is shifty and quick more than he is fast. His productivity in running a full route tree in Bill O’Brien’s pro-style Penn State offense is a testament to his polish and ability to make plays expected of NFL receivers.
By the way, he improved his poor combine numbers at Penn State's pro day, recording a 42-inch vertical jump and a 4.51-second 40-yard dash time, according to NFL.com's Bryan Fischer.
And all Robinson did in college was set Penn State single-season receiving records in back-to-back years with 1,018 and 1,438 yards.
In addition to being an above average route runner, his 39-inch vertical ability, long 32-inch arms and 6’2” height allow him to win contested passes both along the sidelines and across the middle.
He’s big, proven and would only get better in an offense boasting weapons like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. In any other draft, he'd probably be gone by the second round. Luckily for the Browns, they could benefit from the depth of this year's receiver class by landing an excellent No. 2 receiver with the 35th pick.
71. Jack Mewhort, OT/OG, Ohio State
Cleveland shed some offensive dead weight by letting linemen Shawn Lauvao and Oniel Cousins walk in free agency, but more changes are in store come May's draft.
The Browns start with finding a versatile mauler who has experience at multiple positions in a zone-blocking scheme. Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort is the perfect prospect in the third round, a guy who has started 27 times at left tackle, eight at right guard and five at left guard.
And, as Nolan Nawrocki noted in his scouting report on NFL.com, Mewhort is a vocal leader who “breathes fire” and was a team captain for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Adding a bruiser like him to a solid group that Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus already ranked the 12th-best unit in the league in 2013, and suddenly whoever is playing quarterback in Cleveland will be out of excuses.
83. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood (From PIT)
After impressing at the 2014 East-West Shrine Game, small-school prospect Pierre Desir was invited to the Senior Bowl. There, the 6’1”, 198-pounder left no doubt he has the skills and size to help an NFL franchise.
The three time Division II All-American cornerback impressed in Mobile, Ala., showing “perhaps the best fluidity and speed of the group” of defensive backs, Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com noted from the practices.
Clearly a man among boys at Lindenwood, Desir dominated, recording 25 interceptions and 52 pass breakups in three seasons. Now he has proven he stacks up physically and fundamentally with some of the more visible big-school prospects.
Picking up a big-bodied corner like Desir would allow Buster Skrine to move inside to a more natural position at nickelback. He would also help match up against some of the bigger receivers in the league on the outside, given Cleveland’s lack of height in its defensive backfield—under 5’11” is the average.
92. Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville (From CAR)
If edge player Marcus Smith is still available in the bottom of the third round, general manager Ray Farmer could finally decide to use his stockpile of picks to grab a player he probably covets. Surrendering both of Cleveland’s fourth-round selections in exchange for Carolina's No. 92 pick, Farmer would be adding the best pass-rusher left on the board.
Smith was a star defender in his senior year at Louisville, compiling 14.5 sacks—a 1.12 sack-per-game average that led the nation.
He won’t need to play every down as a rookie due to Cleveland’s depth at the position, but can be groomed by Mike Pettine and his staff to potentially be a standout 3-4 pass-rusher for years to come.
145. Chris Watt, OG, Notre Dame
If you watched the scouting video above, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller is certainly sold on Chris Watt as a force to be reckoned in the run game. If there’s a missing piece in Cleveland’s offensive line, it’s a physical blocker who can move defenders to open up rushing lanes.
As Miller said, Watt’s weakness is in pass protection, but he could be utilized more effectively in a zone-blocking scheme. You know, like the one Kyle Shanahan brought to Cleveland during this offseason.
Watt may slip to the fifth round because of those concerns, but that’s the perfect position for the Browns to add another new piece that fits the direction they are going upfront.
180. Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Signing Ben Tate to a two-year deal is not the long-term solution for the Cleveland Browns’ backfield. Tate, if he stays healthy and excels, could play his way into an extension, but that’s a gamble the team should avoid without an insurance policy.
In the sixth round, opportunity could meet availability for the Browns, as Storm Johnson is an ideal fit as a one-cut back—the type of rusher Kyle Shanahan and his father have made famous in their schemes.
He’s quick, but not fast Patient, but not hesitant. His first step is explosive and he has the ability to get around the edges to make big plays. Johnson also demonstrated his utility in the passing game, grabbing 30 receptions and compiling 260 yards, nearly all of them after the catch.
His biggest area for improvement is pass-blocking, which could hamper his initial usefulness as a third-down back.
218. Chandler Jones, WR, SJSU
The seventh round is a toss-up for NFL draft picks. There’s not a heck of a lot separating those who go undrafted, and those who are grabbed by teams before the free agent signing extravaganza begins.
Here, though, the Browns would be smart to add another solid pass-catcher who can learn and develop under the group currently in place. Injuries are a reality, and it wouldn’t hurt to draft a guy like Chandler Jones in the latter rounds.
Jones is a lesser-known prospect from San Jose State, but he was highly productive as David Fales’ top target in 2013, compiling 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns.
He really bleeped onto draft radars after impressing during receiver drills in practices before the East-West Shrine Game. Jones “showcased good footwork” in shoddy field conditions due to inclement weather, according to Bleacher Report NFL national leader writer Michael Schottey.
To top off that performance, he was easily the most impressive offensive player with seven catches for 73 yards during the game itself.