The Cleveland Browns find themselves entering the 2015 NFL Draft with an all too familiar situation with two first-round picks. History has not been on the same side as the Browns in the recent years when they have had two first round picks, though.
Last season, general manager Ray Farmer found himself making moves in the first round to acquire Justin Gilbert and another first round pick (for 2015), as well as Johnny Manziel later in the round. Unfortunately, those picks showed virtually nothing in year one. The jury is still out, but Farmer needs to hit in the first round this year to make believers out of the fans and the rest of the league.
Outside of the first round, Farmer had a very impressive draft as a rookie General Manager. He also managed to sign undrafted free agents that made an impact in year one such as Isaiah Crowell, Taylor Gabriel and K’Waun Williams.
While he did a solid job, some major areas of need to fill in this coming draft are: defensive line, wide receiver, tight end and quarterback. With this in mind, there are a few scenarios in which the Browns can address all of their needs, and that is by Farmer working his trade magic again.
Farmer was phenomenal in last year’s draft making trades early, contrary to popular opinion. The only issue with his trades was the performance of the players (Manziel and Gilbert), but this won’t scare Farmer off from doing it again. A few teams ahead of the Browns first pick at No. 12 could be suitable trade partners for Farmer to move up and get superior talent at areas of need.
Starting on the defensive line, Leonard Williams and Danny Shelton are the two most likely defensive tackles in the draft to go very early. Williams is regarded as the most talented defensive prospect in this draft, and is slated to go Top five and potentially Top 3. So, it would be unlikely for Farmer to move that far up to get him.
Shelton is a player that could slip to No. 12 based on the teams in front of the Browns. However to be safe, they could secure their man by jumping ahead of the Chicago Bears, who also could be potential suitors for the massive defensive tackle.
At the wide receiver position, it is unlikely Farmer goes against his plan and trades up for one. But if he did, Kevin White and Amari Cooper would be the targets. The Oakland Raiders (4th), Chicago Bears (7th), St. Louis Rams (10th) and Minnesota Vikings (11th) are all teams that could go wide receiver, which would likely make trading up tough.
It is unlikely they all take a receiver, and clearly it depends on who is available. However, if White or Cooper were to slide past the Bears at No. 7, the Atlanta Falcons could yet again be a trade partner with the Browns for a playmaking receiver, but this time the Browns would acquire the player. If they do not take a wide receiver earlier, the likes of DeVante Parker, Jaelen Strong and Dorial Green-Beckham are also receivers the Browns could target, but likely wouldn’t need to make a trade to get them unless it was up from the 19th pick.
Next up is the tight end position, where a first-round pick would be somewhat of a reach, especially at Nos. 12 and 19. Farmer could dig deep into his scout book and find a complete tight end in the mid-rounds to find a quality tight end that should be able to contribute right away.
Finally we arrive at the elephant in the room, the quarterback position. Quarterback for the Browns seems to always be a topic for discussion in Cleveland, and this year didn’t disappoint again. With Josh McCown slated to be the day one starter due to the unknown lying in Manziel’s stint in rehab, the Browns could take a quarterback.
The issue that lies is that there are likely only two quarterbacks that will go in the first round, and they will both be early. If one of them falls to No. 12 it would be very difficult for Farmer to pass it up, but trading up seems to be out of the cards for a quarterback unless Farmer is sold that’s his guy to command the huddle for the future.
Until draft day everything is speculation from what players will go where, and what trades will happen. The draft is exciting every year for every team and fan base. This year will be no different, as Farmer is expected to work his trade magic again to put the Browns in a position to draft talent to push this franchise to the next level.