Cleveland Browns 2016 NFL Draft: Breaking Down Potential Suitors for No. 2

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Last week, rumors surfaced that the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles could be talking trade for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Since then, the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams shocked the NFL, as the Rams sent quite the haul to the Titans to move up to No. 1 and presumably select the new face of their franchise at the quarterback position.

Since this trade was announced last week, the Browns are seemingly in a fantastic position when it comes to their position in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Yes, it is true they no longer have their pick of the litter when it comes to Carson Wentz and Jared Goff as their new QB, but they will still be able to take one if they have them both rated equally. If QB is not their cup of tea with the No. 2 overall pick, the Browns have their pick of the litter when it comes to some of the Top rated prospects in the class, like OT Laremy Tunsil, DB Jalen Ramsey, DL Joey Bosa, DL DeForest Buckner or RB Ezekiel Elliott.

Those five players are widely regarded (along with injured LB Myles Jack) as potential home run selections—so, why wouldn’t the Browns just pick one of them and move on? Because in the eyes of many, this franchise is more than one player away—and they could receive quite the haul from another QB-needy franchise.

Jason Cole of Bleacher Report did a quick video in his “Insider Buzz” today which discussed just this, pointing to the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and the aforementioned Eagles as potential suitors for the Browns No. 2 pick. Cole stated, “…after the trade by the Rams up to the No. 1 spot, the Browns have the most valuable pick in the draft at this time. The value of that pick went way up for one of the teams that are still looking to get one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft, in particular the Jets, the Eagles and the 49ers would they be willing to move up to that spot at this time.”

Cole went on to discuss what the Browns would want to do if the Rams take the QB they want, and mentioned the team needs to improve their overall roster—which is potentially why they would likely trade out to accumulate more assets.

Last week, we wrote why a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles is unlikely due to the fact they are without a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. You can read more about that breakdown here, so unless the Eagles are willing to give up the majority of their picks this year and early round picks next year, it is unlikely a deal will be struck between the Browns and the Eagles to get up to No. 2 in this writer’s eyes.

In regard to the 49ers and the Jets, they both provide a little more intrigue as potential trade suitors when it comes to the 2016 NFL Draft.

Starting with the 49ers, who pick No. 7 in the 2016 NFL Draft, new head coach Chip Kelly has a history for either making or influencing major moves when it comes to his roster mis-management days in Philadelphia. While some feel Trent Baalke and company may not be willing to make a deal of that magnitude, it is clear their QB of the future is not on the roster between Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick.

For those of you who prescribe to the NFL Draft Trade Value chart methodology, let’s start there. The No. 2 pick according to this chart is worth 2,600 points, while the No. 7 pick is worth 1,500 points. So at a base level, the 49ers would have to cover 1,100 points in order to go from No. 7 to No. 2—or the equivalent of the No. 14 overall pick in the first round.

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Could a former Buckeye be in play if the Browns traded back to No. 7?

Since the 49ers do not have the No. 14 overall pick in the first round to include with No. 7, let’s look at their other picks to see if they can cover the point gap. The 49ers hold the No. 37 pick in round two, which is worth 530 points. They also own No. 68 in round three (250 points) and No. 150 in round four which is worth 84 points, of picks that would be of interest this year. If you total those three picks, you get 864 points—which is 236 short of the needed 1,100 between the two picks.

If the Browns did not want the fourth-round pick, they could likely push for the 49ers 2017 second-round pick to make the deal and get it pretty easily thanks to the premium placed on QBs. Staying in the Top 7 of the 2016 NFL Draft would still allow the Browns to draft one of the Top prospects in this class, and also give the Browns five selections in the Top 68 picks.

The trade would look like this:

49ers Receive: No. 2 overall pick
Browns Receive: No. 7 overall pick, No. 37 overall pick, No. 68 overall pick and 2017 second-round pick.

Analysis if this trade happened

This would be a very good trade for the Browns in my eyes. Though many—including myself—would want to push for a 2017 first-round pick, the 49ers have very valuable, early picks in 2016 that the Browns would be acquiring. Since they will likely have an early pick in 2017, their front office may be reluctant to deal a Top 10 pick next year.

With multiple picks in the second and third rounds this season, the Browns would then be able to acquire at a minimum five players between rounds one through three who could make a major impact in 2016. On top of that, with picks No. 32 and No. 37 in round two, the Browns could make other moves—either back into the end of round one or move back further into round two—to target another player they seek, or acquire even more assets in this draft.

If the QB they prefer goes off the board at No. 1 and a deal of this nature is on the board from the 49ers, it is a no-brainer to do this deal.

The second team mentioned in this video is the New York Jets, who pick No. 20 overall in the first round.

Going back to our good friend the trade value chart, there is a major gap between the Browns No. 2 pick (2,600 points) and the Jets No. 20 pick (850 points). The Jets next two picks are No. 51 in round two (390 points) and No. 83 overall in round three (175 points). In total, the Jets only have six picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, which could make a potential deal with them tricky.

If the Jets feel they are a quarterback away, they will have to “give up the farm” for multiple drafts to make that move up to No. 2. Their first three picks in the 2016 NFL Draft only equal 1,415 points on the trade value chart, which means they would need to make-up 1,185 trade value chart points with a combination of players and future picks.

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One name that has been floated out there in a potential deal to help the Jets get to No. 2 is, Muhammad Wilkerson. Our friend Jared Mueller over at the Orange and Brown Report wrote about Wilkerson and the Browns a few weeks ago in an article, which points out the pros and cons of a potential deal for him.

Would Muhammad Wilkerson be enough for you to be the centerpiece of a trade for No. 2?
Would Muhammad Wilkerson be enough for you to be the centerpiece of a trade for No. 2?

Though Wilkerson is a very talented player, it is tough to grade out his true value against draft picks. He has been a force on the line for the Jets since being drafted in 2011, recording 36.5 sacks and 184 tackles according to Pro Football Reference. But at 26-years old (not old by any means), you have to wonder if he is going to hit a wall after he gets paid from his next team.

So as a front office, you have to ask yourself—do you value Wilkerson on your line or do you value a future first and second-round pick to go all the way down to No. 20?

Let’s assume the Browns want Wilkerson, a deal could look like this:

Jets Receive: No. 2 overall pick
Browns Receive: No. 20 overall pick, No. 51 overall pick, No. 83 overall pick and Muhammad Wilkerson.

Analysis if this trade happened:

Falling out of the Top 10 in any draft is obviously putting you into another talent tier. But falling into the 20s puts you even further down that tier, and for a team like the Browns—they need to be able to add as much top tier talent as possible in the coming drafts to re-stock their roster.

With this said, many would say Wilkerson would be the “Top 10” talent acquired in this deal since he can instantly come in and change the complexion of your defense. So if you view it like that, then you are talking about essentially getting two firsts, a second and a third for the No. 2 overall pick—which would be a very good haul.

Now, the issue I have with this deal is that the Browns are on a three-year rebuild plan in my eyes. This means Wilkerson will likely be 29-years old before the Browns are a serious contender. So, while he drastically helps improve the defense now, I have to look at his value in three years to truly judge this deal.

Final Reaction

Whenever there is talk of the Browns trading down, the fans initially react in a negative manner. Since the last few trade downs the team has done haven’t exactly worked out, their nature is to automatically dismiss a trade down because “the team is going to mess it up.”

Leaving the past in the past, of the two deals outlined above the only one that interests me is the deal with the 49ers if the Browns do not want to take a QB at No. 2. Picking No. 7 will still give the Browns one of the top talents available in the class out of the players listed before, and gives them additional assets both in 2016 and 2017 to help rebuild this roster the right way.

Is trading down in the first round something sexy on draft day? No, it has the same appeal as taking an offensive lineman for most people. But for a team like the Browns that needs to add more than one impact player in the first three rounds of this draft, having five chances in the first 68 picks to do so could alter the way this roster looks for years to come.

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Bob is the Founder, Site Director and Senior Writer of Cleveland Sports Zone. He has been writing about sports for over nine years thanks to his passion for Cleveland sports and a Journalism degree. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, USA Today and other major sports networks.

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