As we are just two days away from the draft, I wanted to test my skills and become an NFL general manager on the most important night of the off-season. Using Fanspeak.com and their On The Clock simulator, I can choose my team and which draft board or ranking of players I want. Then I can simulate the computer draft selections while I make the picks for the team I selected. For simulation purposes, I will use Dane Brugler’s NFLdraftscout.com big board to rank the prospects.
With only two days before the draft, we saved the best for last, the Cleveland Browns. As a Browns fan myself, being the GM for the draft is a dream come true. Here is what I would do while running the team during the draft weekend.
Team Needs: Quarterback , Cornerback, Offensive Tackle, Safety, Edge Rusher, Defensive Tackle, Wide Receiver, Running Back
Team Picks: 1st, 4th, 33rd, 35th, 64th, 110th, 141st, 161st, 191st
Round 1 Pick 1: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
After almost two decades of bad luck at the position, we have to get this pick right. Sam Darnold isn’t the most pro-ready QB of the bunch, but is considered to have the highest potential. On film, Darnold displays elite anticipation with the ability to throw receivers open into tight areas. Darnold is as comfortable making throws outside the pocket as he is inside it.
The most important trait of Darnold is his personality. He has a calm, cool demeanor at all times and has shown excellent leadership for being just 20 years old. The plan will be to sit Darnold for 2018 so he can learn what it takes to be an NFL QB. He will get that chance to learn behind two excellent leaders with high football IQs in Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton.
Round 1 Pick 4: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
After seeing QB’s go 1, 2 and 3, ideally I would’ve liked to trade out of this spot. I decided to go with Ward simply because he was the best player at a position that is our biggest need after quarterback. Cornerback is arguably the second most important position on defense and I feel comfortable passing on a player like Bradley Chubb because Ward also plays a premium position. Ward is an outstanding press man corner that will allow defensive coordinator to Gregg Williams to play the style he likes.
Round 2 Pick 1 (33rd Overall): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Although Hurst is arguably the best interior pass rusher in this draft, he could fall this far after the recent heart scare. Hurst was cleared to play football with no need to worry, so he shouldn’t fall too far. It was hard to contain my excitement and not give the pick away because I had to wait almost 24 hours in between rounds. Hurst fills a major need, and adds some depth to the defensive tackle room.
Round 2 Pick 3 (35th Overall): Ronald Jones II, RB, Southern California
After selecting the quarterback we decided to bring his backfield partner with us as well. Jones is an excellent back with elite breakaway speed. Jones is slightly undersized, and will probably be unable to be a work horse back. With the backfield of Jones, Duke Johnson, and Carlos Hyde all bringing something different to the table, our backfield will be cooking this year.
Round 2 Pick 32 (64th Overall): Duke Ejiofor, DE/EDGE, Wake Forest
Ejiofor is a 270 pound monster with excellent play strength coming off the edge. An above-average athlete, Ejiofor is more known for his developed pass rush moves, and relies on his technique to get to the quarterback. He fills a major need and is a great all around football player too.
Round 4 Pick 14 (110th Overall): Mason Cole, OL, Michigan
Cole is an excellent versatile linemen that has experience and can play any position along the offensive line. Grabbing Cole in the 4th round is also a great value add.
Round 5 Pick 13 (141st Overall): Will Richardson, OT, North Carolina State
After signing Chris Hubbard to play right tackle and losing Joe Thomas to free agency, we need a new developmental tackle if Shon Colemon continues to struggle.
Round 6 Pick 1 (161st Overall): Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
Cichy is a jack of all trades linebacker that could make headways in special teams with a chance to earn meaningful snaps on defense.
Round 6 Pick 14 (191st Overall): Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville State
Siran Neal is a small school cornerback that lacks the speed to play on the outside in the NFL. Luckily for Neal he has the traits and aggressiveness to transition to a safety role.