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Browns Mailbag: What about adding another top-flight pass rusher to Browns D?

Posted Jan 19, 2018

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

After we put a bow on this edition of the Browns Mailbag, the second of the week, we’re on to Mobile.

Keep it locked on ClevelandBrowns.com for comprehensive coverage from this year’s Senior Bowl.

Is there a such large talent gap between Sony Michel and Saquon Barkley? If the Browns could get Michel in the second round, would that not be better than spending a first-round pick on Barkley? -- Vic M., Allen, Texas

That’s the kind of calculation general manager John Dorsey has to make as he evaluates Barkley, Michel and the rest of this year’s crop of running backs. Dorsey has said he’ll simply draft the best player when the Browns are on the clock with the first and fourth overall picks.

Barkley is a special talent and is almost unanimously considered to be this year’s top running back prospect. After a few years in which running backs saw their draft value plummet, five have been selected in the first round of the past three drafts, including two in the top five (Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette) and two others in the top 10 (Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey). Elliott and Fournette, in particular, played a big part in their teams’ respective resurgence, making the prospect of drafting a running back with a top-five pick not as crazy as it might have seemed just a few years ago.

But then there’s the depth to consider. An argument can be made that this year’s top rookie running backs weren’t drafted anywhere near the first round. Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt, selected by Dorsey in the third round, rushed for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns. Alvin Kamara of the Saints, also a third-rounder, emerged as one of the NFL’s most electric playmakers while piling up 728 rushing yards, 826 receiving yards and a combined 13 touchdowns.

As for Michel, the senior from Georgia, he really finished his college career on a high note. He rushed for 279 yards on just 25 carries in his two College Football Playoff games, showing the kind of burst and versatility NFL teams covet. None of the mock drafts we analyzed Thursday, though, had him going in the first round, so he very well could be available when the Browns are on the clock with one of their three second-round selections.

How crazy would it be to take Sam Darnold at 1 and follow up with Baker Mayfield at 4? -- Mark G., Lisle, Illinois

It’d certainly be unconventional. A number of teams have drafted multiple quarterbacks in the same draft but it’d be a whole different deal to take two in the top five. The Browns have a big need at quarterback, but they have other needs as well. A player selected at No. 1 or No. 4 would certainly benefit those non-quarterback areas in a big way. It’s safe to say the scenario you posed would be a stunner.

Many of our QBs have been injured or plagued with an underachieving roster. What gets it done? What scares teams more? A dominant defense with the likes of Kirk Cousins or AJ McCarron while drafting Bradley Chubb to play opposite Myles Garrett for five years? Or Alex Smith and youth to develop on offense? Bradley Chubb No Matter What IMO. -- Neil C., Erie, Pennsylvania

Chubb is almost unanimously considered to be the best pass rusher in this year’s draft, but isn’t quite generating the same level of buzz as Garrett did last year. He led the FBS in tackles for loss (23.5) and rolled up 10 sacks as a senior. It was good enough to make him the winner of college football’s two biggest defensive awards (Nagurski and Hendricks) and vault him into the conversation as a top-five pick. Even though the Browns are set with Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah for at least the next few years, there’s no such thing as too many dangerous pass rushers on a defense. His name will figure to be in the discussion in the coming months.

I noticed the Browns picked up a safety, Derron Smith, from Cincinnati back in November, I think. Is he being looked at for a possible fit in the Browns' secondary? What's his story and his background? -- Obrey B., Beaumont, California

Smith was plucked away from the Bengals’ practice squad in early November and remained on Cleveland’s 53-man roster for the rest of the season. He battled a couple of injuries and primarily contributed on special teams, where he posted five tackles and a fumble recovery. The former sixth-round pick has appeared in 38 games over three seasons. He had seven tackles on defense last year.

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