Browns Mailbag

Browns Mailbag: How did the Browns' free agency activity affect the upcoming draft?

The Browns Mailbag is back after a two-week hiatus, and we've got plenty to cover as we write this from the home office.

We're tackling five of your questions in this "welcome back" edition.

*Who are you going to pick at 10? I have followed this for 60 years. If you decide you need a left tackle, don't wait for what falls to you. Pick the left tackle Bill Callahan feels who best fits his needs. Don't wait. Go out and get him. *

If you decide to go defense, move up and get Isaiah Simmons! He is going to be the next Troy Polamalu. You acquire Simmons and all of a sudden the defense takes on NEW LIGHT. -- James H., Nashville

The Browns were busy early and often throughout the start of free agency, adding as many new players to the roster as any team in the league. Most importantly, they came at spots all across the field, giving Cleveland some injections of talent, depth and experience in areas that needed it. Missing in all of that action? A signing you can point to that says, "Yep, that one changes what the Browns are going to do with the No. 10 pick."

The Browns added starters on offense with TE Austin Hooper, RT Jack Conklin and FB Andy Janovich. They shored up the quarterback room with veteran backup Case Keenum. The Browns' duo of Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson got a welcome addition with Andrew Billings. Cleveland's young safety room got some much-needed veteran help with Andrew Sendejo. 

Still, the same possibilities loom at No. 10, a pick most analysts assume the Browns will use to fill their hole at left tackle.

In our latest roundup of mock drafts, experts were split on the player, but not the position Cleveland would address at No. 10. Some like Georgia's Andrew Thomas. Others think Iowa's Tristan Wirfs will be available. Others point to massive Mekhi Becton or Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. There's not only little consensus on who is the best tackle in the draft, but also no consistency on who might be No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4. That opens up the likely scenario that each team, Browns included, has these players ranked differently. So a team that gets the fourth tackle in the draft could end up with its first choice. Or a team in position to get the second tackle in the draft misses out on its first choice.

It's all up in the air -- including defensive players, though Simmons is projected by almost everyone to be gone by the time the Browns are on the clock -- and the actions of the past couple of weeks haven't changed a thing. If anything, they opened the door for the Browns to go grab the best overall player.

Are free agents DE Bryan Cox, S Damarious Randall, WR Rashard Higgins and CB Terrance Mitchell all gone? No chance to re-sign? -- Jim C., Dayton

Cox, Randall and Higgins are free agents. Mitchell is still on the roster with one year remaining on his contract.

Do the players have access to a new playbook yet? If not, when do they normally start on it? -- David H., Eastlake

Players do not have access to the new playbook yet. That applies to the entire NFL at this point of the offseason. Players can get their hands on one at the start of the offseason workout program. Cleveland's was scheduled to start the first week of April, but that's very much up in the air at the moment.

Everyone says OT or Isaiah Simmons at No. 10 for Cleveland. Let's throw a monkey wrench in the system. What are the chances the Browns trade back to the mid teens and take a DL or the leftover OL? Or even bolder, stand at No. 10 and take Derrick Brown/Javon Kinlaw/Jeff Okudah? -- Jeremy B., Columbus Grove

Like I mentioned earlier, truly anything is on the table for the Browns, and none of the hypotheticals you laid out could be considered implausible. I will poke a hole in one part, though. Trading back and grabbing the "leftover OL" is a risky proposition on multiple fronts unless it's very clear the player the team covets to take at a position as important as left tackle will be available. For one, the Jets, who pick at No. 11, have a similar need at the position. Secondly, it'd have to be a pretty small trade back to ensure getting a top tier defensive lineman. In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has Brown and Kinlaw gone by the time Cleveland is on the clock and doesn't have another one being selected until the 25th pick (A.J. Epenesa, Iowa).

I would guess that the XFL player talent level would be similar to the players who play a lot in the first two NFL preseason games. With that being said, will the Browns have access to these players, and have you seen any XFL players that might be able to fill any of the Browns needs at Tackle, LB, DL or Safety? -- Bob K., Coventry

I'll be honest. I didn't get much of a chance to watch the XFL before the league was forced to suspend its season. I'll look to do better in 2021.

That said, players in the league have been free to sign with NFL teams. According to SportingNews.com's live tracker, 10 former XFL players are now in the NFL, including two quarterbacks -- P.J. Walker (Panthers) and Jordan Ta'amu (Chiefs). Former Browns LB DeMarquis Gates went from the Houston Roughnecks to the Minnesota Vikings.

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