Hitting the draft perfectly is virtually impossible, so while the hope is the Cleveland Browns crushed their 2019 NFL Draft, but the likelihood is they missed on a few selections or at least could have done better. So rather than waiting to second guess them after it's easy to say they were right or wrong, let's go ahead and criticize them now and then see where the chips fall.
The Browns only ended up taking seven players this year, but it still wasn't difficult to find five picks to try to improve. Sione Takitaki and Drew Forbes have tremendous amounts of evidence that suggest they have the potential to be big time players. Everyone else has at least question marks with some having dubious markers that could be the reasons they ultimately fall short of fail. So with that in mind, let's commence first guessing.
The Cleveland Browns selected Greedy Williams with the 46th pick. They could have drafted Justin Layne, who went 83rd to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Greedy Williams is a solid pick and could be a great corner in the NFL, but in terms of evidence, no corner in the 2019 class was better than Justin Layne.
Age: 21 (January 12th, 1998)
Height: 6'1 3/4"
Weight: 192 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.5s
Broad Jump: 134″
Vertical Jump: 37.5″
Production: 44 solo tackles (11.2%), 15 pass deflections (25.8%) in 2018. Did not play in team’s bowl game.
From production to athleticism to tape to even his age, he hit elite marks with all of them. Layne also had the length and build that might have been a great compliment to Denzel Ward.
The dynamic with Williams is going to be a fascinating one as both have excellent top end speed, similar builds and Williams is longer. Save for the length, Williams is remarkably similar to Ward. Layne has more similarities to someone like T.J. Carrie in terms of a more physical build and might not be as ideally suited for man coverage.
So much of this comes down to fit and Williams may simply be a better one for where the Browns want to go, but Layne seems the far surer bet to be a great NFL corner, which seems more important.
It's also natural that such a great corner managed to fall right to the Pittsburgh Steelers, so he could burn the Browns twice per year for passing on him. Hopefully Williams is great and makes it clear the Browns were right to pick him and in proving me wrong, the Steelers don't get a stud corner at a discount price.
The Cleveland Browns selected Sheldrick Redwine with the 119th pick. They could have selected Saquan Hampton, who went 177th to the New Orleans Saints.
The concept of taking a coverage safety that could come in and at strong safety in passing situations was a great idea. They combined that with getting someone they feel could contribute on special teams, which is perfectly reasonable. But like with Williams, a far more evidenced based selection would've been Saquan Hampton out of Rutgers.
Age: 23 (December 12th, 1996)
Height: 6' 1/4"
Weight: 206 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.48s
Broad Jump: 125″
Vertical Jump: 36.5″
Bench: 14 reps
Production: 44 solo tackles (10.8%), 13 pass deflections (23.6%), 3 interceptions (33.3 %) in 2018.
Hampton was one of the only bright spots within the entire Rutgers problem, showing ability to play zone coverage over the top, play man in the slot and being able to get out and make tackles in the alley. Hampton had excellent production and athleticism whereas Redwine's production was simply not as good.
Both players could fill the role but in projecting longterm, there's more evidence to believe in Hampton. If Redwine can be that coverage role player and be great on special teams, the pick will have been validated but Hampton has the potential to be the more impactful player. The Saints have been bringing in a lot of safeties that check all the boxes, including Marcus Williams, Hampton and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. It proved to be a hit with Williams and both Hampton and Gardner-Johnson have excellent profiles.
The Cleveland Browns selected Mack Wilson with the 155th pick. They could have selected Cole Holcomb, who was selected 173rd by the Washington Redskins.
The early candidate for the Chad Thomas award, on Building the Browns, John Dorsey remarked how Wilson has talent in there, that they have to get it out of him. It's almost exactly how most would describe Thomas coming out and now. Both players are being drafted to be players they haven't shown capable since they were big time prospects coming out of high school.
Age: 22 (June 30th, 1996)
Height: 6' 1/4"
Weight: 231 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.48s
Broad Jump: 132″
Vertical Jump: 39.5″
Bench: 22 reps
Production: 59 solo tackles (12.7 percent) in 2018.
The one advantage Wilson has over Holcomb is age. Wilson is 21 and Holcomb is 23. In every single other possible, measurable way, Holcomb is superior. Even the competition is neck and neck as the ACC has gotten to be such a quality league.
Wilson has experience on special teams and may have a specific role in terms of coverage. Holcomb has legitimate questions on tape in regards to how well he reads and reacts, but he has the athletic attributes to make up for it and still almost doubled the production of Wilson.
Particularly as it relates to special teams, if the Browns wanted to add a missile on coverage units, Holcomb's speed and agility seems far more useful to the position.
Mack was easily the biggest head scratcher in the Browns draft class this year and maybe they see something in there that they can tap into and get the player he never was at Alabama, but he would certainly be an outlier if he has anything more than a bit role for the Browns. Nevertheless, if Wilson can lock down a particular coverage role and contributes on special teams, he could validate the selection.
The Cleveland Browns selected Austin Seibert with the 170th pick. They could have selected Cortez Broughton, who was selected 242nd by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Picking a kicker in the fifth round lacks imagination and not a criticism of Seibert (I don't pretend to evaluate kickers), this serves as both a question of that strategy as well as a fundamental disagreement with the organization about the defensive tackle position.
Age: 22 (Born September 2nd, 1996)
Weight: 293 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 5.01s
Broad Jump: 113″
Vertical Jump: 33.5″
Bench: 24 reps
Production: 30 solo tackles (6.8%), 16.5 tackles for loss (20.1%), 5.5 sacks (17.7% in 2018.
Seibert might be great, but if he's terrible, missing out on defensive tackle talent, a spot where the Browns have real questions, seems dubious. The depth at defensive tackle seems really light and perhaps the Browns see more there, but there doesn't appear to be a viable answer to the question as to what happens if Sheldon Richardson or Larry Ogunjobi get injured or even get tired.
Broughton was one of the most productive defensive linemen in the country and tested at a high level. He is best suited to play the 3-technique, but if he can keep consistent pad level, he could be a fill-in nose as well, providing the ability to disrupt the pocket from either spot.
Broughton has an explosive first step and when his pad level is right, he can beat the opponent to his spot and blow up a play before it starts. When he's too high, which is hopefully a function of fatigue as opposed to anything more problematic, he gets knocked off balance and can get driven off the ball. He has flashed the ability to clog up double teams and hold his ground.
The Cleveland Browns selected Donnie Lewis Jr. with the 221st pick. They could have selected Michael Dogbe, who was selected 249th by the Arizona Cardinals.
Donnie Lewis is a talented corner who is unfortunately injured and is a victim of circumstance. First guessing five picks and the Browns took seven, so only two could be spared. And the organization's dedication to adding as many corners as possible duly noted, but once again, the defensive tackle question is a major question mark and Michael Dogbe is another extremely qualified talent.
Age: 22 (Born May 5th, 1996)
Weight: 284 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 5.07s
Broad Jump: 110″
Vertical Jump: DNP
Bench: 34 reps
Production: 36 solo tackles (5.6%), 12.5 tackles for loss (15.4%, 7 sacks (19.4% percent) in 2018.
The argument against Dogbe would seemingly come down entirely to weight. He measured in 284 pounds for testing and some will argue that's more of a 5-tech end size than that of a 3-tech defensive tackle. And in fairness, that's the system that drafted him.
Dogbe is the ultimate example of hard work paying off. He's a program guy that has built his body and mind while part of the Temple program to be the epitome of what they want in their players. Hard nosed, high effort, smart football players that over perform.
Dogbe would be a rotational defensive tackle on the Browns and give them another terrific athlete that is able to defend the run and the pass. It's difficult to imagine he couldn't add enough weight to make the Browns comfortable while maintaining his athleticism.
Donnie Lewis is a nice player and if his foot heals up well and he can make the team, he could be a contributor. Dogbe just adds more competition to a unit that would really benefit, help make them better.