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Browns Mailbag: Do any Buckeyes make sense for Browns in 2016 draft?

Posted Feb 17, 2016

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble takes your questions every week

On Jim Brown’s 80th birthday, we planned to answer 80 questions.

Overkill? Probably. So let’s divide that by 16 - the number of receptions Brown had in each of his first two professional seasons -- and call it a Wednesday.

With all of our Browns draft talk, why haven't we drafted a Buckeye? Browns have missed out in past and are probably going to miss out on some very good players this coming draft, too. - Jim B., Hudson

This is something I’ve heard more than a few times since I started this job, so I figured I would check the data and lay it all on the table. Here are the most notable figures when it pertains to the Browns and Buckeyes.

-- The Browns have had 47 former Ohio State players on their roster at some point over the past 70 years. Eight former Buckeyes who became Browns, a group that includes Lou Groza and a handful of other Hall of Famers, are classified as Browns Legends.

-- The most recent Ohio State addition to the roster was wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who re-signed with the team in December. The last Ohio State player the Browns drafted was wide receiver Brian Robiskie, a second-round pick in 2009.

-- Since Robiskie, 34 Ohio State players have been drafted. Three of the 34 were first-rounders -- Cameron Heyward in 2011 and Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby in 2014. The Steelers accounted for six of the 34 while Miami, Cincinnati, Denver, Oakland, Philadelphia and St. Louis each selected two during that time span.

In this year’s draft, it might be hard to avoid picking at least one Ohio State player. Led by defensive end Joey Bosa, who some have projected as the No. 1 pick, the Buckeyes will send 14 players to next week’s NFL Combine. In NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock draft, six Buckeyes are listed as first-round selections.

Perhaps the most intriguing Buckeye beyond the first round is Michael Thomas, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver who is projected as a second-round pick.

With a healed Hartline, Hawkins, Bowe and with the return of Josh Gordon (and if Travis gets resigned), should the Browns address the WR position during draft or FA? - Matt J., Mentor

The status of both Benjamin, who is coming off a career year, and Gordon, who was suspended for the entire 2015 season, is uncertain when it pertains to the 2016 season. If both are back, that minimizes the need to address the position but doesn’t completely eliminate it. If only one or none are back, it obviously increases the need and makes it arguably one of the most important positions to address during the offseason. No matter what, it’s hard to envision Cleveland’s wide receiving corps looking identical to what it had in 2015 because that’s the nature of the NFL, particularly for a team that is coming off a 3-13 season.

Do you think the Browns need to draft a running back? A good running game can take a lot of pressure off the QB. The Browns don't seem to ever have a consistent running game. Who do you think are the best three RBs in this year’s draft? - George H., Caldwell

In a recent interview on Cleveland Browns Daily, Hue Jackson had some very nice things to say about both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, who are similarly young and flashed potential throughout the 2015 season. Jackson wants to see the kind of performance Crowell delivered against the 49ers on a weekly basis, and he labeled Johnson, who thrived primarily as a pass-catcher, as a three-down back. Jackson got major production out of a similar setup in Cincinnati with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. The key for Cleveland over the next few months will be to determine whether Crowell and Johnson are the best possible duo. No matter what, competition will be supplied in some fashion at training camp.

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott is considered to be the top running back in this year’s draft class. He’s followed by Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry and Arkansas’ Alex Collins. The Browns used a Day 2 selection on running backs in the past two drafts and saw mixed success. Whether or not they do it for a third consecutive year could become clearer in the coming months.

The Browns have the No. 2 overall draft pick. If the Titans don't take Joey Bosa at No. 1 and falls to us at No. 2, why not take him and then try and trade back up into the first round and get a quarterback we want? Sounds logical to me but nothing the Browns do make sense. - Blake H., North Baltimore

It sounds logical and it’s not an entirely implausible scenario, but it adds a lot of risk to a very, very important pick. If you’re a team, and you really like a quarterback, odds are there’s at least one other team that feels the same way. The closer it gets to a point in the draft where another team could scoop up your guy, the higher the price will be to trade into that spot. That risk factor is a big reason why quarterbacks tend to be selected higher than their perceived ranking.

The Browns are in need of some tall swift receivers. Would you give us an overview of the draft class this year? - Mark T., Omaha, Nebraska

Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell (6-2, 210) is the consensus No. 1 receiver in this year’s class, but his draft projection varies depending on the analyst. Jeremiah recently pegged him at No. 19 to the Bills. Thomas and TCU’s Josh Doctson fit your criteria and are each considered to be likely second-day selections. An intriguing, raw prospect is Mississippi State’s De’Runnya Wilson, a potential Day 3 selection who measures at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds.

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