The Cleveland Browns own the No. 10 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after a rough 2019 season.
Thus is not exactly where fans were hoping the team would pick, but the good news is that a top prospect will be coming to the Browns organization.
It is just up to the new front office to not blow the pick.
The ultimate goal should be to not pick this high once again in 2021.
There are several clear needs on the roster heading into the 2020 season.
First and foremost, the Browns need to add talent to the offensive line.
The tackle spots are wide open with Chris Hubbard potentially being a salary-relief cut and Greg Robinson heading to prison for being an international drug dealer.
Browns’ OT Greg Robinson was alleged to have 157 pounds – 157 pounds! – of marijuana in “several large duffle bags in the rear cargo area” in El Paso, Texas today. pic.twitter.com/O7UyfW7AqO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 20, 2020
Outside of Joel Bitonio and JC Tretter, the line is wide open.
There is room for improvement via both free agency and the NFL Draft.
Then there are the needs on the defensive side of the ball.
The Browns could use help at linebacker and in the secondary.
The safety position particularly stands out as the team already has two young top picks at corner.
Picking at No. 10 overall means the Browns may be out of the sweepstakes for the best overall lineman or safety in the Draft.
Yet there is the possibility of a trade, or a run on quarterbacks could push talent down to the Browns.
The following five prospects are those for fans to watch at the upcoming NFL Combine, as they could be wearing brown and orange in 2020.
Three Dominant Linemen
Drafting an offensive tackle with the No. 10 overall pick would address the Browns’ biggest need right away.
The team could take either a left or a right tackle and fans should be happy.
The strategy only changes if the team makes some splashes in free agency on the offensive line.
Bringing in an experienced lineman to hold down one of the tackle spots changes the plan in the NFL Draft.
There is also a need at guard, but tackle is the glaring weakness that stands out the most.
As it stands now, the Browns should basically just take the best available tackle at No. 10.
The following three players all have a shot to be on the board when the Browns pick in the first round.
The draft stocks for all three are interchangeable at this point in time.
Mekhi Becton – OT – Louisville
Mekhi Becton is an offensive tackle out of Louisville listed at an impressive 6-foot-7, 369 pounds.
Yet that size doesn’t limit his mobility on the outside of the line.
.@UofLFootball #MekhiBecton is a helluva prospect that has tremendous size and yet can move that big body. Who doesn’t want Large People to build their offensive line around. I promise to do lots of film work on this player over the next 8 weeks. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/rTY8I3KNhD
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) February 13, 2020
Becton spent three years at Louisville and was a regular starter the entire time.
He even earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 2019, awarded to the best lineman in the ACC.
Becton is an ideal prospect because he is not even 21 years old and has shown the raw ability to succeed at the college level.
His mobility at his size is something NFL teams can work with once he is drafted.
The fear with offensive lineman is that they will not make the adjustment to the speed of the NFL game.
Browns fans have seen that be the case with guys like Cam Erving and Austin Corbett.
However, it is important to remember that both of them were put out of position upon arriving in Cleveland.
Becton would arrive as a tackle and remain at that spot, likely on the left side of the line.
Mekhi Becton, OT, #Louisville:
• Bulldozer in the running game (++)
• Athletic for his height/weight combo
• Herculean levels of power (+)
• Dislodges defenders with ease
• Set depth needs minor tweaking
• Always scanning for workpic.twitter.com/g0yU5y47mi
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 14, 2020
Becton is among the top tackles in mock drafts and overall prospect rankings.
He was mocked to the Browns by Mel Kiper Jr. in the recent mock draft by the ESPN analyst.
The need for Becton is there and he has shown all the tools to be successful.
It is just a matter of whether a strong combine performance leaves him on the board at No. 10 overall.
Jedrick Wills – OT – Alabama
He is just like Becton, where he could go as high as No. 3 or No. 4 overall.
All the top tackles may be interchangeable to a point given how the combine goes.
Wills is listed at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds and was a right tackle at Alabama.
Jedrick Wills tape is enjoyable pic.twitter.com/UQHTvzwZoy
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 28, 2020
He fits the bill of being on the Browns radar given the dire need of both a new left and right tackle in 2020.
Our own Ben Donahue had this to say about Wills in his analysis of the Crimson Tide lineman:
Wills’ experience at the position helps him take proper angles on edge rushers. Whether in run or pass protection Wills movements look fluid.
He has good balance and body control for his size. His initial punch can be devastating to his man. Watching him on film, Wills can crush defenders on the second level.
His ability and playing mentality fit the bill for a dominant, mauling offensive tackle. This ability and experience will allow him to play either tackle positions or even guard in the NFL.
The mobility at such a size is what always stands out with top lineman prospects.
Jedrick Wills vs. Marlon Davidson (who could not be blocked at the Senior Bowl)
He's the best OT in a pretty good class pic.twitter.com/ShJIf86Ycz
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) February 4, 2020
Wills is also being projected to potentially line up at guard if needed.
The Browns do have a need at guard and it would be wise to draft a player capable of playing tackle who could slide to guard as opposed to vice versa.
Wills was a starter on the right side of the line and protected Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside when the quarterback was healthy.
All the tape shows a dominant blocker who can take top defenders to the ground.
The size is there and so is the experience after playing on such a national stage.
Once again, the question is whether Wills will fall to No. 10 overall.
Tristan Wirfs – OT – Iowa
Tristan Wirfs is another lineman prospect who could go anywhere from No. 4 overall down near the end of the first round.
He stands 6-foot-5 and earned his reputation as a dominant right tackle for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Tristan Wirfs, OT, #Iowa:
• Athleticism (++)
• Fluid and efficient pass sets
• Effective second level climbs
• Aware to anticipate twists/stunts
• Resets his hands effortlessly
• Comfortable in space (+)
• Ideal fit in a zone blocking scheme pic.twitter.com/1nKhU6Mndn
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 14, 2020
He was named the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten for 2019 and the honor was enough for him to decide to forgo his senior season.
Wirfs is another tackle prospect who could slide to guard if that serves as a better fit in the NFL.
However, right now he projects as a right tackle.
This is where the scenarios for the Browns get interesting.
If the team signs a left tackle in free agency, Wirfs becomes a top target.
This would be perfect because there wouldn’t be an experiment of trying him out on the left side of the line.
He would show up day one as the right tackle and would not be sliding around.
The only change would be if he was clearly better as a guard, yet that is still not why he would be taken at No. 10 overall.
The Top Two Safeties
Drafting a safety at No. 10 overall could be a controversial move in the eyes of some fans.
The looming loss of Damarious Randall should change the collective opinion.
Even if he does return, the Browns could use a top player at that position.
It makes better sense if three or four linemen are taken in the first nine picks.
If that happens, there may be better value for the Browns to take one of the top two safeties.
Those two individuals both come out of the SEC and from two of the best college football programs in the nation.
They serve as options 1a and 1b when doing the analysis.
Grant Delpit – S – LSU
Grant Delpit’s draft stock is all over the place when looking at mock drafts.
Some have him going early in the first round while others see him on the board until the second.
Here is all seven interceptions by LSU FS Grant Delpit since 2018: pic.twitter.com/yW6TPvGvYv
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 17, 2020
The safety was a two-time All-American at LSU and won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation’s best defensive back in 2019.
He stands 6-foot-3 and had eight career interceptions with the Tigers in three seasons.
The concern with Delpit is that his production dipped in 2019, even though he still won the Thorpe award.
However, sometimes a different scheme can explain why his sack and tackle totals were down.
Safety is a top need for the Browns in 2020.
Damarious Randall is a free agent and the Browns may prefer to get younger at the position and move on from Randall after a disappointing year in which he made over $9 million.
Delpit’s size in the secondary draws comparisons to Kam Chancellor and fans must remember the young safety is only 21 years old.
"He wears the number 7 at @LSUfootball like @Mathieu_Era, @P2, @_fournette, and @DJChark82 before him. @realgrantdelpit is a Top 10 prospect heading into the Combine, ankle injury or not. I love this dude." — @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/AUY5q5T7mh
— GMFB (@gmfb) February 11, 2020
The speed, size, and ball-hawking abilities are all there.
His tackling needs to improve, but that is true for most of the secondary in Cleveland.
Some proper coaching by new defensive coordinator Joe Woods should help solve that problem.
Xavier McKinney – S – Alabama
Xavier McKinney is right up there with Delpit as one of the top available safeties in the 2020 draft class.
Grant Delpit vs Xavier McKinney
Pick one: pic.twitter.com/ivvHrt09io
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 12, 2020
He had 95 total tackles, three interceptions and three sacks in 2019.
His stock is so high he decided to leave Alabama early to head to the NFL.
Xavier McKinney, Safety, #Alabama:
• Underneath areas are his domain
• Super smart safety prospect (++)
• Physical and loves to strike (+)
• Active filler in run support
• Effective as a blitzer (+)
• Versatile skill set pic.twitter.com/0Mz2XtlcOX
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 17, 2020
The safety stands 6-foot-1 and his highlights show how he can also play in the box when needed.
He essentially serves as an extra, more versatile linebacker in certain schemes.
Ben Donahue ranked him as the second-best safety prospect, behind Delpit, and had this to say as well:
Wherever he is asked to play, McKinney will track the ball and make a play.
This shows in his career college stats with six sacks, six forced fumbles, five interceptions and two touchdowns.
He can take down an opponent in an instant and pack a wallop when he does so.
McKinney will blitz from the edge or up the middle to pressure the quarterback.
His athleticism allows him to bait the opposing quarterback in throwing to areas that he can get a jump on.
When in coverage, McKinney does a great job of matching his opponent stride for stride.
He plays fast no matter what he’s asked to do and plays with confidence.
McKinney to the Dallas Cowboys is showing up in mock drafts, but Dallas doesn’t pick until No. 17 overall.
Given that projection, the Browns should be able to grab McKinney if they want him.
That may just depend on how many offensive linemen go off the board in the first nine picks.
Keeping Things Simple
The Browns need to keep things simple in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Too often the team has tried to outsmart the rest of the league and that has resulted in disastrous selections.
The goal should be to take the best available player at the biggest glaring need on the roster.
Free agency will change the plans a bit, but the Browns should still have room for a top lineman or safety when the team is on the clock at No. 10 overall.
This means not trading back and not trying to snag a guy who isn’t a top ten prospect.
Just keep it simple and take someone who the team has scouted and who is widely considered a top player.
Is there a chance the pick turns out to be a bust?
Yes, that is always a possibility.
But there is a difference between a widely heralded player not panning out and the Browns trading down to draft someone like Corey Coleman after passing on so many top guys.
The Titans drafted Conklin with the pick the Browns traded them to drop to 15 and take Corey Coleman in the 2016 draft https://t.co/aCPknLuNLw
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) February 20, 2020
The Browns can’t go wrong with any of the five players listed above.
The safeties may be considered reaches in general, but both are still the top at their position.
That is different than a reach where a player is ranked low at his respective spot.
The mock drafts will keep rolling out and some spots could change after the combine.
However, the top guys in the draft should remain the same regardless of what goes down in Indianapolis.
The Browns cannot lose sight of that fact with yet another top pick in a draft.
Keeping things simple could lead to the Browns actually hitting on a pick and adding a foundational player to the team who will be a mainstay for the next decade.