The NFL Combine officially begins on Sunday, and the Cleveland Browns will be looking for multiple players to fill major holes on the team. Here are a few players that Cleveland Browns fans should keep an eye on over the next two weeks.
NFL Combine Prospects to Watch for Cleveland Browns Fans
Cleveland’s biggest need (or needs, rather) is offensive tackle. Greg Robinson was not going to be re-signed even before his arrest for 157 pounds of marijuana. Chris Hubbard is one of the NFL’s worst starters on the right side. The Browns need two starting tackles this off-season, and historically, signing offensive linemen in free agency hasn’t been a great way to spend money. Fortunately, this year’s draft class just so happens to be very deep at OT.
Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr., Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton could all be top-10 picks. At least one should be on the board when Cleveland picks at 10, and there are other prospects pushing for first-round status, such as USC’s Austin Jackson and Houston’s Josh Jones.
All of the aforementioned players are great athletes for the position, and they should all test very well. But Wirfs and Becton, in particular, are intriguing. Wirfs showed great agility on the field and his work in the weight room is impressive to say the least.
450 easy on the hang clean ??
Iowa O-Lineman Tristan Wirfs is a MONSTER.@TristanWirfs74 (via @HawkeyeFootball) pic.twitter.com/XnOP0NeVEJ
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) July 23, 2019
Despite an excellent college career at right tackle, some analysts think Wirfs may transition to guard in the NFL due to his lack of ideal arm length. His measurements at the Combine will be interesting to see, but given how good he was in college, it makes sense for his new team to play him at his natural position until he proves he can’t.
Becton’s measurements will also be telling. On tape, he is an absolute bully and is listed at a monstrous 6’7″ 369 pounds. He is a rare athlete, especially for his size. Becton is a project from a technique perspective, but his potential is evident. It will be up to teams to discern what his true playing weight is, and keep that number as far away from 400 as possible. Fortunately, Becton has a fantastic work ethic by all accounts, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him weigh in around 350lbs and proceed to destroy the agility drills.
Tyler Johnson, Wide Receiver, Minnesota
Johnson caught 25 touchdowns over his last two college seasons and possesses elite tracking and ball skills. He switched to wide receiver from defensive back and quarterback when he got to Minnesota, so his production is all the more impressive given his inexperience. Johnson’s 40 time will be very important for stabilizing his stock; he isn’t a burner on tape, and as such, is projected anywhere from the second to the sixth round. The Browns could really use some size at wide receiver, and Johnson would provide that.
Thaddeus Moss, Tight End, LSU
Tight end is a need, even with David Njoku back healthy. Kevin Stefanski used two tight ends quite often with the Vikings, and he’ll need to find a trusty second option in Cleveland. That new tight end will need to be able to block at a high level, which Moss does. Unfortunately, he didn’t get half of his father’s athleticism, which limits his potential as a pass-catcher. But, if Moss can perform better than expected, he could vault himself into the early third round.
Julian Okwara, Edge Rusher, Notre Dame
Olivier Vernon is a very good player when he is healthy. The problem is he isn’t healthy very often and will cost the Browns $15 million this year. There is a chance he could be cut for salary cap reasons, which would leave a gaping hole at defensive end opposite of Myles Garrett. Okwara has good size and athleticism but needs to add more strength to his frame and develop a counter move. His bench press mark could show he’s gotten stronger, or that he still has a long way to go. If it’s the former, Okwara could be in play for the Browns at 41, even if Vernon sticks around.
Zack Baun, Linebacker, Wisconsin
Baun has good size and athleticism and was productive as an edge rusher in college. That description could also apply to another former Badger, Joe Schobert, who has transitioned from college pass rusher to a very good NFL off-ball linebacker. Baun may end up making a similar transition, as he’s undersized for a traditional edge rusher, but has prototypical size at linebacker. Schobert is a free agent, but whether he’s re-signed or not, Cleveland could really use an upgrade at either of the other two linebacker spots, especially with Christian Kirksey likely to be cut. Perhaps the only linebacker who should put up better athletic testing than Baun is Clemson unicorn, Isaiah Simmons.
Kyle Dugger, Safety, Lenoir-Rhyne
Safety is perhaps the Browns’ second-biggest need, and 41 seems like the spot where the team will address it. Dugger could be in play there, especially after he performs well at the Combine. Playing D-II college ball, he dominated with superior speed and athleticism. His physical gifts will translate well to the next level, but he has work to do as far as discipline. His best fit is as a strong safety with the ability to cover deep, but he should be effective no matter how he is used. Dugger could run the second-fastest 40 time of all safeties after California’s Ashtyn Davis.
Combine week is always an exciting time for Cleveland Browns fans, and this year is no different. The off-season is officially in high gear, and the NFL Draft will be here before you know it.