Ezekiel Elliott and 6 other options for the Browns at 8
CLEVELAND, Ohio Have the Browns put themselves behind the 8 ball? Or will eight be great?
They traded down with the Eagles from No. 2 to No. 8, and will have plenty of great options Thursday night. But will they stay there and pick Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch or running back Ezekiel Elliott? Or trade down with the Titans at No. 15 and pick up a receiver such as Mississippi’s Laquon Treadwell?
Browns VP Sashi Brown told the team’s own draft preview show that "we’re set, we’re locked in and we know who we’ll be taking” but that if the player’s not there or someone "blows our socks off” again, they’ll know how to react. Here are eight things they can do at No. 8:
Lynch is widely regarded as the third best quarterback in the draft behind Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, and at least one top NFL talent evaluator told me he better than Goff, who will go No. 1 to the Rams.
Lynch (6 6 5/8, 244) is tall, mobile and has an excellent arm. Draft expert Nolan Nawrocki describes him as a cross between Colin Kaepernick whom Hue Jackson loves and Brock Osweiler, who just signed a huge free agent deal the Texans. If the Browns like Lynch, they should draft him. He likely to be gone by No. 15 if they trade down. The 49ers might also like him at No. 7.
At least one QB expert, Jon Gruden, has Cook ranked as his top passer in the draft. If Lynch is gone, the Browns should strongly consider Cook at No. 8. Again, it might be a tad high for him, but he a good developmental QB who can learn behind Robert Griffin III for a year or two.
He got great size (6 4, 217), a strong arm and fab credentials, including two Big 10 Championship MVPs. He taken a beating for not being voted a team captain, but has explained himself adequately. A native of Hinckley, Ohio and graduate of Walsh Jesuit, he love to play for his hometown team. Cook might also make more sense if the Browns trade down.
At one point, Bosa was thought to be a strong candidate for No. 1, and if he happens to tumble to the Browns at No. 8, they have to seriously consider him. Bosa would be a projection as an outside linebacker in Ray Horton 3 4 base defense, but if he that good, why not adjust your scheme to what he does best?
If he can take over a game as a 4 3 end, why not build the defense around him? Bosa believes he the best player in the draft, and might not get past the Cowboys at No. 4. If he on the board, the pressure starved Browns could end up with arguably the best defensive player in the draft.
I still don like drafting running backs in the top 10 unless they can prospects like an Adrian Peterson. But Elliott might just be what the Browns need to power Hue Jackson offense and put some points on the board while they work through their quarterback issues.
The Browns were 30th in the NFL with 28 TDs last season, and that won’t fly. The Browns were also worst in the league with 123 hits on their QBs and 31st in sacks allowed. They need a bellcow back to take the pressure off and keep the defense fresh. Elliott can run, block and catch. He just might be worth this pick.
If Bosa is gone and Buckner lasts this long, he be on the Browns radar. He can play end in a 3 4 and has proven to be an explosive pass rusher, with 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 2015.
At 6 7, 291 he got great size, long arms and the largest hands at the NFL Combine at 12 inches. The Browns finished 28th in the NFL with 29 sacks and need an immediate upgrade. Buckner can play inside or out and can help improve a 30th ranked run defense. A dominant pass rusher is always worth a top 10 pick.
If the Browns need an heir apparent to Joe Thomas, Stanley might be their man.
Some teams even have him ranked higher than Mississippi Laremy Tunsil, long believed to be the premier player in this draft. The Browns have sworn up and down that they not trading Thomas, but if a team offers them a first round pick and more again, they have to at least think about it.
Stanley could start on either side, filling in for a few years at right tackle until the left side opens up, or sliding in there sooner if the Browns trade Thomas, who drew an offer of a first and second round pick last year from the Broncos. The Browns drafted what they hope is their starting center last year, and might have to grab the left tackle this year.
The Browns will strongly consider trading down if the player they covet at No. 8 is gone. But again, if they like Lynch, they should stay there and take him. The Bears (11) and Saints (12) have brought him in for visits and rumors about him have picked up steam in recent weeks. But if Lynch is gone or the Browns don view him as their quarterback of the future, they should and probably will talk to teams like the Titans at No. 15 about trading down again. If they can get the same value at No. 15 as they can at No. 8 except for the QB they should take the picks.
Some scouts think No. 8 is a little rich for Treadwell, but others, such as Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, have him pegged as a top talent. If the Browns think No. 8 is high, they can take the risk trying to land him a little later. They know that Josh Gordon isn walking through the door anytime soon, and even if he does, they might want to want to move on.