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Cleveland Browns: 2018 NFL Draft Grades For Each Pick

Baker Mayfield - QB

Time to play Monday morning quarterback, literally, and put my own personal stamp of approval (or disproval) on the Browns 2018 draft class. Like every other “analyst”/”expert”/”writer” who covers the Browns, my grades are insanely subjective to my own knowledge of the players taken, however, limited that may be. They’re also based on players the Browns could have taken and passed on, and how well the players they took fit the team. So, without further delay, here we go!

PICK #1 – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Mayfield is a lightning rod and as I wrote before, this is a major statement pick for GM John Dorsey. Many will herald this pick and many more will poo-poo it, time will tell who is right. He does fill a massive need for the Browns. Mayfield also had a 70% passer completion mark each of the past two seasons at Oklahoma with 83 TD, 14 INT, 488 rushing yards, 11 rushing TD, 9 total fumbles and only 3 fumbles lost in that span (including only 3 total fumbles and none lost in 2018). I really don’t care about his record at Oklahoma, NCAA wins are subjective an not universally applicable (Tim Tebow was a winner and we all know how that turned out). He showed his accuracy, adequate arm strength, ability to read defenses and strong mobility throughout the off-season workout programs ahead of the draft. On Paper, Baker Mayfield checks all the boxes. Off paper, he has attitude concerns and perhaps highlighted no better than in his refusing to read the San Diego Chargers playbook because he didn’t think he would be available for them to draft him. The guys who the Browns passed on to take him #1 are Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. All of them have flaws of some kind, but of the group, Darnold has the highest upside given his similar mobility, prototypical NFL size, above average arm strength and youth. GRADE: B+

PICK #4 – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State University: Cleveland has a big a need for a lockdown man coverage corner and Denzel Ward more than fits that bill. He was highly productive at OSU and often opposing QB’s spent time finding ways to not throw the ball his direction. Most of the NFL prognosticators will ding the Browns for taking Ward instead of defensive end Bradley Chubb and while Chubb is the better talent overall, Ward is still one of the top talents in this draft and filled a need Chubb would not have. Dorsey also had to pull the trigger on Ward because the Denver Broncos at #5 had been very vocal about taking the CB if he had been available. Ward will lead a young, remade secondary in Cleveland and I expect it will be to great success. GRADE: A-

PICK #33 – Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada: Offensive line was a position of need coming into the draft, specifically left tackle. This draft wasn’t particularly deep with left tackle talents and the first round saw three of the best options come off the board with Mike McGlinchey, Kolten Miller and Isaiah Wynn. Corbett checked in as a lower grading offensive guard than Will Hernandez and even Connor Williams, but he merited the Browns attention because he was the best available offensive lineman who could become an NFL starter at both tackle and guard. He will likely push Shonn Coleman for the starting left tackle job this fall. GRADE: B+

PICK #35 – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: This isn’t my favorite pick for the Browns in this draft. Cleveland signed Carlos Hyde and they have Duke Johnson as well, and while you can never have enough depth at RB, this pick could have been better used. Harold Landry (OLB) and Uchenna Nwosu (OLB) were both available here and would have made excellent additions as edge defenders for a Browns defense that needs more pass rushers. That said, Chubb is an effective, downhill, punishing runner. Chubb possesses a good blend of power, balance and speed which will likely allow him to compete with Hyde for early down work. Chubb is a luxury pick, but he’s talented running back who’s floor is likely better than Isaiah Crowell. GRADE: B-

PICK #67 – Chad Thomas, DE, Miami: It’s notable that this was Cleveland’s next pick after Chubb. The Browns needed to add pass rush and, as noted above, they passed on a couple of premium talents to take a RB. Undoubtedly, that created some pressure to address the position and Thomas was taken. Thomas is raw and will need a lot of work to become anything more than a rotational depth player on the defensive line for the Browns early on. There were other better players on the board like Justin Reid (S) and BJ Hill (DT) that would have been a better value in the 3rd round. Thomas may grow into a strong contributor, but he likely could have been had later in the draft. GRADE: C-

PICK #105 – Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida: Callaway is an uber-talented possession receiver who posted a 4.41 40 yard dash and caught 84 passes through limited work in his freshman and sophomore years at Florida. Scouts almost universally agree that Callaway can be an impact player in the NFL if he can stay out of trouble. The issue with Callaway is his off-field issues. He missed all of 2017 due to legal issues, including marijuana possession and fraud, and he escaped legal trouble involving sexual assault allegations in 2016 by testifying that he was literally “so stoned” he didn’t want to have sex with anyone. These are, to put it mildly, massive red flags and the receiver will come into the league on the NFL’s radar. Still, these gambles have paid off for many teams in the past most notably with Kansas City and Tyreek Hill recently, who is a similar talent to Callaway. The Browns got a 1st round talent in the 4th round if he keeps his nose clean. GRADE: B+

PICK #150 – Genard Avery, ILB, Memphis: When you target depth on defense, you want players who can contribute on special teams while they develop and Avery should do that immediately. He was a highly productive linebacker at Memphis who was an above average run stopper and pass rusher. He had 80 total tackles and 22 tackles for a loss including 8.5 sacks his senior year. Long-term, Avery may develop into a run-stuffing thumper for the Browns with good quickness, though he lacks strong coverage skills. GRADE: B+

PICK 175 – Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M: At 6’2″ with a sub 4.40 40, Ratley is an explosive deep threat. He had limited production at A&M as a JUCO transfer but he excelled as a home run threat. He averaged 23.1 yards per catch with 6 TD in his final season. His size/speed profile is what got him drafted and he’ll be in a position to earn a job on special teams while he develops. This is an all upside pick. GRADE: B

PICK #188 – Simeon Thomas, CB, Louisiana: Thomas is physical presence at corner checking in at 6’3″. He was a shutdown corner in the Sun Belt conference his final two years at Louisiana with 17 passes defensed and 2 interceptions. He’ll try to earn a spot on special teams as a developmental project for the Browns, or spend some time on the practice squad. GRADE: B

OVERALL GRADE: The Browns had several surprise picks in this draft and in some cases that was ok, in others it brings risk. The end result is that Dorsey brings home a franchise QB, lock down corner, future starter on the offensive line, potential workhorse running back plus multiple high-upside developmental picks. While it’s not a blow you away, home run draft it is a pretty darn good haul for his first rodeo as the Browns GM. TEAM GRADE: B+

Ben Stecker

Ben Stecker

Author SportsTalkLine.com at SportsTalkLine
Writer, sports connoisseur, Pacific Northwesterner. Rarely met a sport I couldn't be great friends with. Follow me on twitter @Softball_Guy
Ben Stecker