The 2015 National Football League Scouting Combine has come and gone, and, as most knowledgeable people expected, not a lot has changed as it pertains to the Cleveland Browns. While the Browns still need to know that the club has a franchise quarterback on the roster, they aren’t in a position to get one in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, and nobody outside of the top-two QBs in the upcoming draft class did anything at the Combine to move their stocks up. Thus, the plan for the Browns should, so long as they do not panic and overspend, be to use picks No. 12 and No. 19 on getting as much talent and as much value as possible for those selections.
Exhale, dejected Browns fans. While it is understandable that you want both the sizzle and the steak for your team, there are other options at quarterback out there. Mark Sanchez has not yet put pen to paper on a new deal. There are always those Jay Cutler rumors to remember. Brian Hoyer probably doesn’t do it for you unless you are a homer from northeast Ohio who conveniently forgets that Hoyer was the second-least accurate quarterback in the NFL last November. Josh McCown is more of a mentor for Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw than he is the answer for the Browns.
What stood out at the NFL Combine regarding the Browns is that the first-round talent at the wide receiver may be better than some originally thought. That could, of course, merely be an overreaction to 2014 being responsible for the greatest draft class of wide receivers that anybody can remember. Cleveland has the need at the position, and a talented play-maker worthy of being the No. 12 overall pick should fall to the Browns on the night of April 30.
See? It’s not all bad.
2015 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Cleveland Browns
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
It’s not happening, Browns fans, and the only way it could happen would be if events occurred that you would not want it to happen. Move on.
2. Tennessee Titans: DT Leonard Williams, Southern California
Nothing about what happened at the NFL Combine has me changing my belief about this pick. Marcus Mariota needs to impress in a big way if he is to build his stock and cause the Titans to take notice.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
I loved the talent I saw from the wide receivers at the NFL Combine as much as the next guy, but let’s not get crazy here. The Jaguars went high on offense last spring. Jacksonville needs help on the defensive side of the ball.
4. Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
I have seen some are putting Kevin White ahead of Cooper in their NFL Mock Drafts following the NFL Combine. I’m not ready to do so, at least not yet. Cooper is too special for me to pass on him at this stage of the process.
5. Washington Redskins: OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Robert Griffin III has one final opportunity to prove to the Redskins that he can be a true NFL starting quarterback. Scherff could provide the help up front that RG3 has needed since day one of his pro career.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
TRADE: The New York Jets will be tempted to pull the trigger on a quarterback who is not suited to the team’s offense. The Eagles instead do not have to complete a deal with division rivals, Chip Kelly gets his man, and the Jets load up on draft picks that the team needs for the long run.
7. Chicago Bears: DT Danny Shelton, Washington
This is the one pick I have locked in unless Shelton’s stock skyrockets. It is the perfect match for player and club.
8. Atlanta Falcons: LB Dante Fowler, Florida
I have Fowler over Vic Beasley in this week’s NFL Mock Draft, which leads to Atlanta getting the top player at the position on my big board.
9. New York Giants: OT Ereck Flowers, Miami
Yes, this is a reach for a franchise that routinely selects best-player-available in the first round of the NFL Draft. Quarterback Eli Manning needs the help, and Flowers was impressive at the NFL Combine.
10. St. Louis Rams: WR Kevin White, Virginia
The Rams could go offensive line or defensive line here, but instead they grab who may be the best value play-maker of the 2015 NFL Draft if White falls this low.
11. Minnesota Vikings: WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
I like to refer to this pick as “Teddy Bridgewater Gets to Play With an Old Friend.”
12. Cleveland Browns: OT La’el Collins, LSU
I had White here a week ago, but it now seems wishful thinking to assume he will drop to the Browns. With Minnesota looking to get some help for the team’s young quarterback, the Browns find themselves in a spot where there is no play-maker worth grabbing here. That does not at all make Collins a bad selection. Rumor is that the coaching staff and general manager (Ray Farmer) of the Browns have Collins as their best tackle.
13. New Orleans Saints: DE/LB Vic Beasley, Florida
Remember when the Saints bolstered the team’s defense? Here is another go at it.
14. Miami Dolphins: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
The Dolphins have to fix the team’s secondary. This could be a start.
15. San Francisco 49ers: DE Shane Ray, Missouri
Here is where the “Well, the guy is still on the board so we have to take him” picks begin.
16. Houston Texans: SS Landon Collins, Alabama
Too bad head coach Bill O’Brien can’t get his future QB here.
17. San Diego Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
I hate using a first-round pick on a running back. I really hate using such a pick on a running back coming off of a torn ACL, so Gordon it is.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
Even Alex Smith can only be blamed so much when he is running for his life. Get him assistance, KC.
19. Cleveland Browns: WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Strong, who has been taking advice from Larry Fitzgerald, put on a show at the NFL Combine. He checked in at 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, and he posted a 4.44-second 40-yard dash time. He isn’t a replacement for the suspended Josh Gordon, but the Browns aren’t finding such a player at No. 12 or No. 19. Strong could be a good fit, especially considering that the Baltimore Ravens are believed to be high on him.
For more: First Browns NFL Mock Draft
Zac has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and National Football League for a variety of websites since 2006. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.