We're feeling frisky on this soggy, chilly Friday in Berea, so we're tackling four of your questions before heading out for the weekend.
We still have a decent cap space. Question … is it enough for that IMPACT, IN YOUR FACE safety? Since we pick 10th, let's pick up Isaiah Simmons from Clemson as our TOP DAWG. Get Jimmie Ward in here from the 49ers to solve our safety question. There's a number of good OTs and OGs we can pick up in later rounds. -- Mike P., Hayward, California
Let's talk about Simmons for a second. He's a great player and undoubtedly one of the top overall prospects in this year's class. Our roundup of the latest mock drafts Wednesday indicated most believe he won't be available when the Browns are on the clock with the 10th pick. Just today, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projected the Giants to take Simmons with the fourth overall pick. One last thing on Simmons: His projected position seemingly depends on the analyst you read or the team that picks him. Some list him as a safety while others, including Kiper, call him an off-ball linebacker.
Ward, meanwhile, is headed to Miami for Super Bowl LIV. He's wrapping up his sixth NFL season and projected by Pro Football Focus as the 28th best free agent. There's a lot of time between now and March, and the 49ers could use that time to re-sign him, but he certainly could be an option if the Browns are looking to upgrade the safety room with a veteran or two. For what it's worth, Ward is the sixth-best safety on PFF’s list. The best is Minnesota's Anthony Harris, who ranks third overall.
We will need 2 OTs in this draft. I would like to see them at the top of the draft. Becton and Prince Tega top my wish list. Any chance we see this? -- Mark R., Star Valley, Arizona
Your sentiment about the Browns' needs at tackle were certainly matched by the mock drafters, who almost unanimously pegged Cleveland to take one with the No. 10 pick. The latest projection from Kiper was Louisville's Mekhi Becton, who measures at 6-foot-7, 370 pounds. Kiper views Becton as the second-best tackle in the draft behind Georgia's Andrew Thomas, a player many pegged to the Browns at No. 10. He's one of many who could be available for the Browns at that spot in the draft. Certainly compared to previous years, it's a deep, deep class of capable tackles, and many analysts believe there could be talented players at the position available when Cleveland is on the clock for a second or third time later in the draft.
One that comes to mind showed out at this week's Senior Bowl practices. Houston's Josh Jones has the prototypical size and build of an NFL left tackle and he's looked the part against some of the nation's best defensive linemen. Kiper projects him to be a late first-rounder. If that's where he falls, the Browns would be out of luck if they wait until their second-round pick, but there's always the option of trading back into the first round -- something they did just a couple of years ago to take David Njoku. A few others have popped up this week in Mobile, including a small-school, off-the-radar prospect in Ben Bartch who could be had on Day 2 or Day 3. Of note, Prince Tega Wanogho, who starred at Auburn, was a late scratch from the Senior Bowl because of a knee issue.
To sum things up, it's always a possibility the Browns utilize multiple picks to hammer away at their needs on the offensive line, and there's probably never been a better year to do it.
10 Players to Watch at the Senior Bowl
Will it be possible for Myles Garrett to rejoin the team for summer workouts, and will the team be able to put the past season's "flare-ups" and miscues behind them and play serious football next season? -- Richard Z., Kokomo, Indiana
Garrett remains indefinitely suspended by the NFL for the incident against the Steelers that has already cost him six games. It remains to be seen when he'll meet with the NFL in hopes of getting reinstated and if that will occur before the start of offseason workouts in April.
As for the team putting the incident behind it, I believe that already happened. The defense certainly missed Garrett -- and we'll get into that more in the next answer -- but it shouldn't have any impact whatsoever on how the group attacks 2020.
It seemed like the pass rush dropped off dramatically after the first Steelers game. Do you think they will find someone else in draft since we don't know how long the suspension is? -- James S., Nanty-Glo, Pennsylvania
The Browns have a handful of positions of need as they head into the offseason, and I'd certainly include pass rushers as one of them. That remains true whether the team runs a 4-3 or 3-4 next season. Garrett truly is a one-man wrecking crew, and his absence was felt in a massive way on Cleveland's defensive line. To top it off, Pro Bowl veteran Olivier Vernon was out for most of those games, too, and it exposed the Browns a bit at one of the most important positions on the field. It's fair to say few teams would be able to overcome those kind of circumstances. The goal of every offseason, though, is to overstock every position group with talent, and the Browns will look to do that through free agency and the draft.
Focusing exclusively on the draft, Ohio State's Chase Young is probably out of the question at No. 10, but someone like Iowa's A.J. Epenesa could be realistic if the Browns want to use their top draft asset on a pass rusher. (For what it's worth, he's the second-best pass rushing prospect, according to CBSSports.com, and pegged to go 15th in Kiper's mock.) If you're looking toward the second or third round, players such as Alabama's Terrell Lewis and Michigan's Josh Uche -- both of whom performed well at the Senior Bowl practices -- are names to consider.
One thing is certain: Finding talented pass rushers via free agency is not easy and definitely not cheap. The draft is always the best option, so it's something to monitor for the Browns over these next few months no matter what happens with Garrett.