Cleveland Browns Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri – Round 3
The Browns made a nice value pick with Elliott in the third round. Cleveland doesn’t need him to become an immediate starter, but in a year or two, the team could move on from Sheldon Richardson and have another athletic Missouri tackle ready to take his place. Elliott should provide quality depth as a rotational backup while developing for the near future.

Team sources told me in the summer of 2019 that Elliott impressed them during the previous fall even though he didn’t produce a big stat line. In 2018, he totaled 24 tackles with three sacks and a pass batted. As a junior, Elliott was around the ball more as he recorded recorded 44 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three passes batted in 2019. He decided to enter the 2020 NFL Draft rather than return to Missouri. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Elliott had a good workout with a fast 40 time of 5.02 seconds.

For the NFL, Elliott has the ability to be a disruptor and contributor in both phases. The first thing that jumps out about Elliott is how quick he is off the ball with good get-off and first-step quickness to fire his gap. He has active hands with developed strength to fight off guards and work his way off blocks. To go along with some functional power, Elliott has a nice ability to use his hands and feet at the same time. Combined with his speed, Elliott has some twitch as an athlete, and he can surprise offensive linemen with his burst to get upfield. As a pro pass rusher, he will probably be more of a defender who collects pressure and disruption rather than producing a big sack total.

As a run defender, Elliott is stout and holds his ground at the point of attack. He has developed strength to stand up guards when runs come downhill at him. There are also times when Elliott causes problems by firing his gap and working upfield. He can get into trouble when he stands up too high and loses leverage, but he can improve on that as a pro.

Richardson was a signing of the previous regime, so the new Browns staff probably won’t hesitate to move on from him as they gear up to sign Myles Garrett to a massive extension. By the end of his rookie contract, Elliott could be a solid starter for Cleveland.

2019: Mack Wilson, LB
2018: Denzel Ward, CB
2017: David Njoku, TE
2016: Carl Nassib, DE
2015: Danny Shelton, DT
2014: Justin Gilbert, CB
2013: Leon McFadden, CB

Most Likely To Bust

Grant Delpit, S, LSU – Round 2
The Browns entered the 2020 NFL Draft with safety being one of their roster’s needs, and some feel that Delpit was a good value pick for the Browns in the second round. Entering the 2019 season, Delpit was seen as a future first-round pick, but a ho-hum year sent him down draft boards, plus some teams saw issues in his game that have them concerned about whether he can adapt to the NFL.

Delpit has potential in pass defense. He is a dangerous blitzer who is adept at getting after the quarterback. In coverage, Delpit can help in a variety of ways. He has some speed, but doesn’t have great range to be a deep centerfielder. He does a nice job of using his vision to play the ball and break up passes while covering wideouts. If Delpit gets stronger, he could help cover tight ends and big receivers in man coverage, as the 6-foot-2, 213-pounder has the speed to run with them and the size to handle height. Tight ends, however, could push him around right now, so he needs to get stronger and more physical. Occasionally in coverage, Delpit can react a hair late to deep passes and/or take a bad angle downfield. Hence, he is more natural at strong safety.

As a run defender, Delpit is a contributor, but he also needs to get better for the next level. Delpit missed a ton of tackles in 2019 and didn’t play with good strength, so he needs to improve that drastically for the next level. Delpit looks more comfortable near the line of scrimmage and being the eighth man in the box. In the NFL, he could be a valuable defender in stopping rushing attacks if he gets stronger, more physical, and cuts out the missed tackles.

Because of Delpit’s lack of strength, more tackling, and limitations in coverage, he has the most bust potential of Cleveland’s early-round picks.

2019: Sione Takitaki, LB
2018: Antonio Callaway, WR
2017: Jabrill Peppers, S
2016: Corey Coleman, WR
2015: Xavier Cooper, DT
2014: Christian Kirksey, LB
2013: Barkevious Mingo, LB

Potential Boom Pick

Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama – Round 1
Once again, the Browns have a new general manager and head coach as the franchise has been incapable of having any continuity in leadership because of incompetent ownership. However, luck was on the team’s side in the 2020 NFL Draft as it was loaded with four very good offensive tackle prospects, which was the biggest need on the roster. While Wills may need some transition time in moving from the right side to the left, he has boom pick potential for Cleveland.

Wills is very gifted as a pass blocker, combining excellent athleticism with quickness and agility. Thanks to his quick feet, Wills is easily able to get depth in his drop to take away the edge from speed rushers. He plays with very good leverage to stop bull rushes, and he has a textbook ability to bend at the knee. You never see Wills being at the waist, and he does a superb job of handling a variety of pass rushing moves.

In the ground game, Wills has some real nastiness to him. He blocks through the whistle and is very physical at the point of attack. With a bad attitude, Wills gets violent with defenders to push them around and challenges them to stay in their gaps. Wills is quick out of his stance and fires to the second level. He is a smooth mover in space, so that combined with his drive-blocking ability makes him a great fit for bith a zone and power-man schemes in the NFL.

Wills has some areas he can stand to improve as a pro. He can be late seeing blitzs on the edge, so getting his vision in check is necessary. His hand placement could use refinement, and that help him with one of his other issues, which is sustainment. Wills can get too reliant on his initial hit to knock defenders out of the play, as he goes for a hard hit to rock them backward rather than securing his contact to sustain the block. Some times, Wills can overextend, and he also needs to improve his ability to defend inside moves, including counters, spins and games.

Wills has the ability to be a franchise left tackle and a lock-down pass protector for Baker Mayfield. For that to happen, the Browns will need to provide some good coaching to develop Wills. However, he has Pro Bowl potential and could be a boom pick for new Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry.

2019: Greedy Williams, CB
2018: Nick Chubb, RB
2017: Myles Garrett, DE
2016: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE
2015: Cam Erving, C
2014: Johnny Manziel, QB
2013: Jamoris Slaughter, S

Future Depth Player

Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU – Round 3
The Browns entered the 2020 NFL Draft needing help at linebacker, and Phillips could be a solid rotational run defender for them. Phillips (6-3, 229) has some limitations in pass coverage that pushed him into the mid-rounds on draft boards, but Phillips was a quality ground defense contributor over the past few years for LSU. He could provide some solid depth behind Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson while also contributing on special teams. Phillips may never develop into a starter, but he could be a good backup who rotates into the game.

2019: Sheldrick Redwine, S
2018: Chad Thomas, DE
2017: Larry Ogunjobi, DT
2016: Cody Kessler, QB
2015: Duke Johnson, RB
2014: Pierre Desir, CB
2013: Garrett Gilkey, OT

Walt’s 2020 NFL Draft Grades:

10. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama – A Grade
I’ve seen several people suggest that Jedrick Wills clashes with Jack Conklin because they both played right tackle last year for Alabama and the Titans, respectively, but Wills is a natural left tackle; he simply played on the right side because Tua Tagovailoa was left-handed. With that in mind, I love this pick. The Browns made a huge mistake last year when they went into the year with Greg Robinson and Chris Hubbard as their tackles. Their blocking is so much better now.

44. Grant Delpit, S, LSU – A Grade
The Browns did a nice job of moving down three spots and picking up a fifth-round pick for a player they easily could’ve drafted at No. 41 – or earlier. Grant Delpit was a first-round prospect a year ago, but struggled in 2019. However, we heard that Delpit disappointed because he was protecting himself for the NFL, which is understandable. This made Delpit a nice buy-low target, so the Browns are filling a need with a talented player.

88. Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri – A Grade
I’m shocked Jordan Elliott dropped to the middle of Round 3. I’m sure the Browns were shocked as well, but they’ll take it. Cleveland needed to find some help in the interior of the trenches, and it’s getting a legitimate second-round prospect to provide aid in that spot. I had Elliott slotted at No. 62 overall in my final mock draft.

97. Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU – B Grade
The Browns had a weak linebacking corps that had to be upgraded in the wake of Joe Schobert’s departure. Jacob Phillips will be able to play two downs for the Browns and help stop the run, but I’m not confident in his ability in coverage. Still, this is a fine pick toward the end of Round 3.

115. Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic – B Grade
The Browns want to run two-tight end sets, so it makes sense for them to obtain another player at the position to go along with Austin Hooper. Harrison Bryant is a pass-catching H-back who could end up being a nice weapon for Baker Mayfield.

160. Nick Harris, C, Washington – A Grade
Nick Harris lacks length, but most interior offensive linemen do, so that’s not a huge deal. Harris is a solid player I thought could’ve gone in the third round, so the Browns are getting solid value at this spot.

187. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan – D Grade
I’ve seen some people freaking out on Twitter about why Donovan Peoples-Jones hasn’t been drafted yet, and I’m wondering why because I never placed him in a mock draft. Peoples-Jones is just an athlete. He’s a horrific football player. He shouldn’t have been drafted.

2020 NFL Draft Team Grade: A . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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