The Cleveland Browns entered the 2018 NFL Draft with five of the top 64 picks in their arsenal. They made a couple surprising picks at the top of the draft and a few controversial picks later on in the mid to late rounds. Let’s take a closer look at the Brown’s draft pick by pick.
1st Round – #1 pick – Baker Mayfield / QB / Oklahoma – 6’1″ 220 lbs
2017 Stats: 285/404 (70.5%) – 4,627 yds – 43 TD – 6 INT
Many fans and experts had expected the Browns to take USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the #1 overall pick. Browns GM John Dorsey had someone else in mind as he chose Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Dorsey is a big believer in Mayfield and believes he can become an elite NFL quarterback. He is an emotional player which got him in trouble at times during his career with the Sooners. There is no questioning the numbers Mayfield put up for Oklahoma. He holds the Big 12 record for yards per attempt (9.7) and consecutive games with a touchdown pass (40). He also ranks second all time in the Big 12 in touchdowns (131), passer rating (175.4) and total offense (15,690 yds). Mayfield holds a career record of 38-8 with the Sooners. Mayfield is extremely accurate on the run and has a knack for making plays with his feet. He will certainly have to overcome his height issue at the next level. With Tyrod Taylor on board as the veteran starter the Browns will not be pressured to play Mayfield right away. They will have the luxury of letting him sit behind Taylor and Drew Stanton while watching and learning from the veteran duo.
1st Round – #4 pick – Denzel Ward / CB / Ohio State – 5’10” 191 lbs.
2017 Stats: 37 tackles – 2 INT – 15 PD
The Browns broke their streak of not selecting Ohio State players when they grabbed Buckeye cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth pick in the first round. This was a position where most people felt John Dorsey would select North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb. The Browns felt Ward could have a bigger impact on their defense and ultimately decided to pass on Chubb. Ward was a an All American in 2017 and was fourth in the nation with 17 passes defended. He should come in a start at one of the corner positions day one and make an immediate impact as a rookie. Ward is a local native of Macedonia, OH where he attended Nordonia High School.
2nd Round – #33 pick – Austin Corbett / OL / Nevada – 6’4″ 305 lbs.
Austin Corbett was a four year starter at left tackle for Nevada. He replaced current Browns lineman Joel Bitonio at the position when Bitonio was drafted by Cleveland in the second round of the 2014 draft. Now Corbett will have the opportunity to play next to Bitonio on the Cleveland offensive line. Corbett can play either tackle position or guard. He will have the opportunity to come in and compete with Shon Coleman for the starting left tackle position vacated by perennial pro bowler Joe Thomas who is now retired.
2nd Round – #35 pick – Nick Chubb / RB / Georgia – 5’10” 225 lbs.
2017 Stats: 223 ATT – 1,345 YDS – 15 TD
Nick Chubb had a fantastic 2017 season despite having to split carries with Georgia teammate Sony Michel who was picked in the first round by the New England Patriots. Chubb played in all 15 games. In the past two seasons after his devastating knee injury in 2015 Chubb has run for 2,475 yards and scored 23 touchdowns. Chubb ranks second in Georgia and SEC history with 4,769 career rushing yards for the Bulldogs. He will come in and compete with Carlos Hyde right away for the lead running back position. Even if he doesn’t start he should see plenty of touches and become an integral part of Todd Haley’s offense.
Round 3 – #67 pick – Chad Thomas / DE / Miami – 6’6″ 275 lbs.
2017 Stats: 41 tackles – 12.5 tackles for loss – 4.5 sacks
Chad Thomas was a two year starter at defensive end for the Miami Hurricanes accumulating 10 sacks in those last two seasons. He is a physical player who can lineup either inside or outside and is solid against the run. Thomas will provide depth behind starting ends Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah. He should see ample playing time in his first pro season.
4th Round – #105 pick – Antonio Callaway / WR / Florida – 5’11” 197 lbs.
2017 Stats: DNP – Suspended
The Browns decided to take a big chance on a troubled but extremely talented player in the 4th round in wide receiver Antonio Callaway from Florida. In his time with the Gators Callaway had a sexual assault charge which was dropped as well as a credit card fraud charge which got him suspended for the 2017 season. Callaway also failed a drug test at the NFL Combine. Had it not been for the off the field issues he would have been a first round pick and possibly to top receiver taken in the draft. Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown has been serving as a mentor for Callaway and has helped him in his efforts to turn his life around. John Dorsey said that in addition to meeting with Callaway and privately working him out they also did extensive backround checks and after doing so felt comfortable making the pick. He is a high risk but also a very high reward pick.
Round 5 – #150 pick – Genard Avery / LB / Memphis – 6’1″ 255 lbs.
2017 Stats: 80 tackles – 22 tackles for loss – 8.5 sacks
Genard Avery is a bruising physical linebacker who had a stellar four year career with the Memphis Tigers. He is third in school history with 45.5 tackles for a loss and 21.5 sacks. The former powerlifting champ is built like a tank. Avery should contribute on special teams and provide depth at the middle linebacker position behind 2017 pro bowler Joe Schobert.
Round 6 – #175 pick – Damion Ratley / WR / Texas A & M – 6’3″ 190 lbs.
2017 Stats: 30 REC – 694 YDS – 6 TD
Damion Ratley was the number two receiver with Texas A & M. In his three seasons with the Aggies Ratley only caught 47 passes. He has good size for a receiver at 6’3″ and decent speed. He will most likely be a special teams contributor in his first season and battle Jeff Janis, Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins for the fifth receiver spot. Ratley is a candidate for the practice squad.
Round 6 – #188 pick – Simeon Thomas / CB / Louisiana-Lafeyette – 6’3″ 197 lbs.
2017 Stats: 42 tackles – 3 tackles for a loss
Simeon Thomas is another player who comes to the team with off the field issues. In 2017 he was arrested for conspiracy to commit felony theft. Thomas has great size for a corner at 6’3″. With all of the depth the Browns have at the cornerback position the chances of Thomas making the opening day roster are slim. He will most likely be a candidate for the practice squad.
Overall the Browns did well for themselves. They got their franchise quarterback and three other potential day one starters in the first two rounds and some potential late round sleepers. John Dorsey’s Cleveland legacy will be forever linked to Baker Mayfield and his first draft as the Brown’s general manager.
Overall Grade: B-