Cleveland Browns 2018 NFL Draft Review

By: Omar Elghazawi.

The Cleveland Browns: our favorite, god-awful football team that we can’t help but root for every year. It seems to be an endless cycle with this team: high draft picks, slivers of hope, crashing through the season, repeat. With this draft, however, the Browns hope to end that stigma, with new GM John Dorsey at the helm. The Browns made nine picks this year, and in my opinion, they hit this one out of the park. When the Browns are a regular playoff team in a few years, I think this is going to be the draft fans look towards as the beginning of a new era for the team. Here we go.

Pick 1, Round 1: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma.

Grade: A

Stats don’t lie. Many love to compare Mayfield to good old Johnny Manziel, but the only similarities between them is that they are:

  1. Shorter than the average QB
  2. Big 12 quarterbacks
  3. Heisman Trophy Winners

Besides those, they couldn’t be more different. Mayfield is a hard working, walk-on QB at Oklahoma who had to work hard for what he achieved, being one of the best QBs in college football history; he consistently ranks high in a number of all-time QB stats, including most TDs and passing yards. He makes long and short throws and does them well. As with any young QB, he has some kinks to work out, but that shouldn’t be an issue with him sitting behind starter Tyrod Taylor this year. This guy was my absolute favorite QB this year. If he were a few inches taller, he would have been the consensus #1 pick. I can’t wait for the 2019 NFL season for this guy to start showing off exactly why he is the first Browns QB drafted #1 overall since Tim Couch.

Pick 4, Round 1: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Grade: B+

The general consensus among NFL fans and Browns fans alike was that this pick would be Bradley Chubb out of NC State. However, the Browns shocked just about everybody (including me) by picking the best corner in this year’s draft out of OSU, Denzel Ward. Ohio State has a good reputation of producing NFL defensive backs, with Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley, and Vonn Bell coming to mind just in the past two years. The Browns have desperately needed a number one corner since Joe Haden began his downfall a few years back, and they may have just found him in Ward. While not the sexiest pick, the Browns already have some good defensive ends (and drafting one too), and no defense is successful without a shutdown cornerback. Ward is that guy for the Cleveland Browns. This pick also makes Jamar Taylor expendable, and we could see a trade or cut in the coming weeks.

Pick 1, Round 2: Austin Corbett, T, Nevada

Grade: B

As Joe Thomas’ possible replacement, this is a boring pick to many. However, it’s absolutely an important one to make, and a good one at that. Corbett played mostly guard at Nevada, but has and can play tackle as well. If he impresses at camp, he’ll step right in at LT over Shon Coleman, who has been mostly disappointing, to put it lightly.

Pick 3, Round 2: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Grade: B+
The other Chubb that I wanted the Browns to pick in this draft (no relation to Bradley), the Browns got a steal here. If not for a knee injury at Georgia, Chubb would have been a high first round pick. He was arguably the best back in the country before the injury, and even after the injury showed some flashes of what made him so highly touted, including knocking out Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma team in the College Football Playoff. The only reason this pick isn’t an A for me is because the Browns already have two very capable backs in the fold, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. With Johnson’s contract running out, and both Hyde and Johnson being inconsistent at times, I can see Chubb competing immediately to become our feature back and our next Jamal Lewis.

Pick 3, Round 3: Chad Thomas, DE, Miami (Florida)

Grade: C+

Very raw and under the radar prospect, Thomas missed a number of games at Miami due to an NCAA investigation of his possibly being paid for producing music (he has produced for Rick Ross, and Rihanna almost bought one of his beats as well). With enough time and effort, Thomas could eventually become a regular on the Browns D-line. He has heaps of potential and plenty of room to grow, and could prosper in Gregg Williams’ defense. With Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett ahead of him though, I don’t see him getting much game time in 2018.

Pick 5, Round 4: Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
Grade: B+

Callaway ran into some legal issues during his time at Florida, including credit card fraud that ended his 2017 season. He also tested positive for marijuana at the Combine, which also contributed to his downfall. If not for these troubles, Callaway would have been a Day 1 selection as well. He has the length, speed, and skill to succeed, and the Browns drafted a former teammate of his last year as well (Caleb Brantley), who ran into his own legal troubles. The only question mark with this guy is if he can stay out of trouble; if he can, he can easily become the Browns 2nd or 3rd receiver, behind Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon.

Pick 13, Round 5: Genard Avery, LB, Memphis
Grade: B-
Pure depth project pick. He was a very good player at Memphis and set some records, but I can’t see him being much more than a special teams player his first few seasons. If he impresses, however, he could end up being a regular in our linebacker core. He, like Thomas, has boatloads of potential.

Pick 1, Round 6: Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M
Grade: C+
Another pure depth pick has speed for miles. Can’t really see him becoming a regular receiver for us, but he could be a deadly returner. Averaged 23.1 yards per catch his final season at Manziel’s old stomping grounds, so he’s there for a big play if you need him. He’s very similar to Travis Benjamin, a former Brown currently with the Chargers.

Pick 14, Round 6: Simeon Thomas, CB, Louisiana
Grade: D+
Camp body, more likely than not will not make it to the final 53;  he’ll be a practice squad body at best. The Browns might plan to move him to another position, however, in that case he could make a name for himself somehow.

Final Thoughts
This draft may seem underwhelming for the moment; the Browns took “the next Manziel” and “not Bradley Chubb” with their first two picks, and to many fans that’s a disappointment. Mayfield and Ward, in my opinion, are the two most important picks in the history of the New Browns, and I finally feel like this could be the beginning of the turnaround for this team. Out of this draft, I can see six or seven of these guys becoming regular starters, and with nine picks, that’s nothing to scoff at. It’s a work in progress, but based on these picks, the Browns are finally back.

I wonder how many times someone has said that before.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Omar Elghazawi is a senior at North Royalton. He has written for The Royal News for two years and is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. Omar will be studying political science at Miami University this fall.