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Browns Mailbag: Would Browns consider a LB or CB in 1st two rounds?

Posted Jan 17, 2018

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

We’re two days early because there’s been such an influx of questions, we’re simply overwhelmed by the response.

It will be a double Mailbag week at ClevelandBrowns.com. Keep your eyes posted for the regular edition Friday and make sure to dig into next week’s, which will be 100 percent devoted to the 2018 Senior Bowl.

Does the Browns coaching staff get to coach the Senior Bowl again? And if so who are some of the big names they will get to coach? -- William M., West Lafayette

Cleveland’s staff passed on coaching in this year’s Senior Bowl, as Hue Jackson is in the process of reshaping his coaching staff and potentially adding an offensive coordinator in the coming days and weeks. The coaching staffs from Denver and Houston will lead this year’s teams. The Browns, of course will have a full cavalcade of scouts and front office members at the week of practices leading up to the game. It will be one of the first big scouting events attended by new Browns general manager John Dorsey and his revamped, three-man team of assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice presidents of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith and Andrew Berry.

As for the game’s top prospects, it’s poised to be one of the best years in a while. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) and Josh Allen (Wyoming) have confirmed they’ll participate. Some other notable players include running back Rashaad Penny (San Diego State), OL Chukwuma Okorafor (Western Michigan), LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama), DE Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio) and DE Harold Landry (Boston College).

The Browns need help on both sides. The defense could not stop anyone when they needed to during a tight game. Wouldn't they consider a top corner or linebacker during the first two rounds? They need talent in every position. -- David C., Brownstone, Pennsylvania

It’s safe to say everything is on the table for the Browns in the first two rounds of the draft. That’s a combination of the team’s need to improve at most spots on the field and the fact Cleveland possesses two first-round picks and three in the second round. Because of the Browns’ strength at linebacker -- Joe Schobert, Christian Kirksey, Jamie Collins Sr. -- it’s safer to project Cleveland to wait a little before addressing the position, but nothing is off the table. And Cleveland has been linked plenty to Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, who projects as a safety in the NFL.

Some other early CB and LB prospects to keep in mind at these two positions:

LB Roquan Smith (Georgia) - He’s ranked by most as the draft’s top linebacker and likely won’t fall past the top 10.

CB Joshua Jackson (Iowa) - He intercepted eight passes this past season and returned two of them -- in the same game -- for touchdowns.

CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State) - The latest first-round cornerback prospect from Columbus. He could be the fifth Buckeye defensive back to be a first-round pick in the last three years.

LB Harold Landry (Boston College) - He could be one of the top players available when the Browns select at No. 33 and No. 35.

It seems that the Browns are always in an annual position to select a unique position to nab the signal-caller of their choice, a potential “franchise” quarterback for years to come. There is more to a football team than a franchise QB. Didn't we hear that before they drafted Quinn, Weeden, Manziel then Kizer? -- John S., Patuxent River, Maryland

A refresher of what Dorsey said at his introductory press conference in December.

“This is a quarterback-driven league,” Dorsey said. “We all know that, and we all know to succeed and go a little bit further and further and further that you need one of those guys.”

You’re right about the part about an NFL team needing more than a great quarterback to be successful. It’s just a much, much more ideal situation when the quarterback position is stable and thriving.

As for the “unique position” part of your question, I’ve repeatedly brought up that point because the Browns really are in a unique position compared to most years they’ve drafted since 1999. The Browns have been in position to select the first quarterback in the draft just three times during that stretch: 2000 (the year after they took Tim Couch at No. 1), 2013 (when a quarterback wasn’t selected until EJ Manuel went 16th overall) and 2017 (when the Browns picked DE Myles Garrett).

What about Mason Rudolph? Granted he played in the Big 12 which means, 12 BIG HOLES IN THE DEFENSE, but a 170 passer rating! Hard to overlook. He's not a runner, but maybe he has those Bernie-esque evasive tactics. -- Jerry A., Strasburg

Rudolph is an interesting draft prospect who would probably be getting more buzz if it weren’t for all of the other top-billed quarterbacks in this deep class. His numbers are incredible: 13,618 yards, 96 touchdowns and just 26 interceptions over four seasons on a team that won far more games than it lost. There’s a stigma he’ll have to overcome because of the school, the offense he operated and the conference, but he’ll have the opportunity to downplay those doubts first at the Senior Bowl and then at the Combine. There’s always room for at least one player to shoot up the draft boards at this point in the process. Maybe it will be Rudolph?

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