Honesty alert: I have no idea what the Cleveland Browns are doing, so I am throwing darts with my latest NFL mock draft.
Things are a little weird — well, weirder than normal — these days. The Cleveland Browns opened up the beginning of the latest edition of National Football League free agency by doing not much of anything outside of losing some talented players. Then came those rumors about tight end Jordan Cameron electing to remain with the Browns even though no deal had ever been reached between player and club. Cameron has since agreed to join the Miami Dolphins. With all of the uncertainty hovering over the team, it is difficult to begin to imagine just what the Browns might be thinking as I put together a latest NFL mock draft.
It doesn’t appear they know what they are doing. How should I have any real guess?
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
No brainer. Easiest pick to forecast as of right now.
2. Tennessee Titans: DT Leonard Williams, Southern California
“But Zac, Tennessee is reportedly high on Mariota.” Please.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Dante Fowler, Florida
Fowler is blazing up the ol’ NFL mock draft these days. He may end up going first overall at this rate.
4. Oakland Raiders: DT Leonard Williams, Southern California
This is my first NFL mock draft where I don’t have Oakland picking a wide receiver. Williams would, if he falls to fourth, be too good to pass up.
5. Washington Redskins: OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
The Redskins need play-makers on both side of the football, yes, but the club also has to protect Robert Griffin III during his final shot at being a franchise quarterback in Washington.
6. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
TRADE: No, Chip Kelly, I do not believe that you are going with Sam Bradford as starter. I don’t believe you turned down a first-round pick for Bradford. I don’t believe you aren’t positioning yourself to get Mariota. Nope, not one bit.
7. Chicago Bears: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
I know many experts are loving Kevin White over Cooper, but one outing at the NFL Combine does not change my NFL mock draft. Cooper would be a steal for the Bears at No. 7.
8. Atlanta Falcons: DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Gregory’s draft stock seemingly changes per NFL mock draft I find. He’s up. He’s down. He’s hot. He’s cold. You get the idea.
9. New York Giants: LB Vic Beasley, Clemson
It is possible, and probably wise, that those running the Giants will fall in love with an offensive lineman. Nothing about what has happened in free agency has me right now believing they’d let Beasley get past them.
10. St. Louis Rams: WR Kevin White, West Virginia
Don’t look now, everybody, but the Rams could be a sleeper team for 2015. That offense could prove to be electric.
11. Minnesota Vikings: WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
The Vikings could go other routes here, but I still see Parker as being a good fit as it pertains to my latest NFL mock draft.
12. Cleveland Browns: DT Danny Shelton, Washington
Offensive line. Wide receiver. Tight end. Cornerback. Quarterback. You name it, and the Browns need it. Knowing what I know about head coach Mike Pettine, he is likely going to lobby and lobby hard for the team to take a defensive player with one of the two first round picks that Cleveland possesses. The Browns were horrendous against the run in 2014 to the point that the team was dead last against it. Grabbing Shelton may fix that, and he would also fill one of the many glaring holes in the team’s squad.
But it’s anybody’s guess with this team these days.
13. New Orleans Saints: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
There is only one guy left to trade, New Orleans, and he plays under center. Do what you have to do.
14. Miami Dolphins: CB Marcus Peters, Washington
With Waynes going to New Orleans, Miami is forced to settle for No. 2 in my latest NFL mock draft. Sorry, guys.
15. San Francisco 49ers: OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
The 49ers are in meltdown mode. Remember when San Francisco was a championship contender?
16. Houston Texans: DT Malcom Brown, Texas
Houston stays local and builds what it hopes will be a defensive line for the ages. Get better soon, Jadeveon Clowney.
17. San Diego Chargers: DE Shane Ray, Missouri
Ray is hot and cold in my NFL mock draft. He could be a great value pick for the Chargers here.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Strong’s stock has risen over the past couple of weeks. The Chiefs steal him from the Browns.
19. Cleveland Browns: OT La’el Collins, LSU
I can actually hear fans of the Browns throwing things upon reading my latest NFL mock draft. Neither of these are sexy picks, and neither is a play-maker that the team’s offense is missing. Both Shelton and Collins fill voids, and both address needs. The Browns are likely going with either Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel, the latter fresh out of rehab, as the team’s starting quarterback for Week 1 of the season. One of those quarterbacks is going to need extra protection.
The Browns aren’t trading up, they aren’t mortgaging the future, and they aren’t trading for Drew Brees. Reality can be harsh sometimes, Cleveland fans, but embracing it is wise.
For more: Browns NFL mock draft 3.0
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.