We've got four big questions teed up in this week's Browns Mailbag … [
Are you going to draft a wide receiver? -- Richard C., Greenville, South Carolina
This topic has been a hot one since Day 2 of free agency, when Terrelle Pryor, who led Cleveland in all receiving categories last season, signed with Washington. One day earlier, the Browns signed Kenny Britt, a veteran receiver who put up similar numbers to Pryor last year in his final season with the Rams. Even if Pryor had returned, the need to add bodies to the wide receiver room would be there. It's definitely there today, and it's why it will likely be addressed in the coming weeks and months in some fashion.
Start off with free agency. There are still a handful of veterans on the market who could be brought in before training camp. Vincent Jackson, Victor Cruz, Stevie Johnson, Michael Floyd and Cecil Shorts are just a handful of the available veterans. There's also an in-house addition, Rannell Hall, chomping at the bit to get back on the field after missing all of 2016 with a fractured fibula. He was having a great camp before the injury and was in serious contention for a roster spot.
As for the draft, it's impossible to rule out any spot but the No. 1 pick when it comes to the wide receiver position. At No. 12, the Browns could very well take the top receiver in the draft, whether it be Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis, Washington's John Ross or someone else. There's talent that will go beyond the first round, just like every year. Players such as Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp, East Carolina's Zay Jones and Ohio State's Curtis Samuel could be some headline names entering Day 2, when the Browns hold two second-round picks and a third-rounder.
The Browns are hoping to get more from their young receivers in 2017, and they should expect some fresh competition in the coming months.
Kudos to the Browns for shoring up the O-line now. Who do we like as CBs? -- George K., Welland, Ontario
I can't tell you exactly who the Browns like at cornerback in the upcoming draft, but I can tell you this is a deep class with a lot of high-end talent. Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Florida's Teez Tabor and Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore all could be off the board by the midpoint of the first round. If Cleveland opts to use its 33rd pick on a cornerback, players such as LSU's Tre'Davious White, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersley and Colorado's Chidobe Owuzie could be names to know.
Do you think taking Jabrill Peppers at No. 12 would be a reach? Or do you think he will even be available at 12? I'm dying for another T.J. Ward, an enforcer at safety for us who we have been missing for years. -- Craig S., Bridgeport
Of the 12 mock drafts we highlighted earlier this week, none projected Peppers to go any higher than 16th to the Baltimore Ravens. Three pegged him at No. 17 to the Redskins, three to the Dolphins at No. 22 and four had him missing the first round entirely. So in the eyes of draft experts, picking Peppers at 12 would be a slight reach but nothing egregious. Ultimately, it comes down to a team's evaluation of the player, and those often don't directly correlate with what the pundits project. Peppers is an interesting prospect because of his versatility and ability to play so many spots on the field, including a couple on offense. It's a deep safety class in 2017, and Peppers is universally projected behind the likes of Jamal Adams (LSU) and Malik Hooker (Ohio State).
I don't feel we have had a decent kicker in the last two years. How do you feel about the kicker we have now? -- Marilyn T., Youngstown
Cody Parkey came to the Browns under some extreme circumstances, experienced a hiccup and did nothing but thrive the rest of the season. After going 3-for-6 in his Week 3 debut at Miami, he finished the year making 17 of his 19 field goal attempts and all but one of his extra points. He's already got a Pro Bowl invite on his resume, and Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor ended the season encouraged by what he saw from the 25-year-old.
"I have been really pleased with him," Tabor said. "I have always said that he is a pro's pro."
As for 2017, the Browns are now carrying two kickers on the roster after the signing of Brett Maher, who spent the past few years in the CFL.