Hello, March and hello to four more of your fantastic questions as we get even closer to some real offseason activity.
On with the questions!
If the Browns re-sign Karl Joseph, and Grant Delpit and Ronnie Harrison Jr. are healthy, is safety that big of a priority come the draft and FA, as everyone is making it seem? — Tom H., Portsmouth
In your scenario, no, safety wouldn't be that big of a need, especially when you throw in the return of Sheldrick Redwine. There are a few things to consider, though.
One, Joseph is a free agent and it's unclear whether he'll be back or elsewhere in 2021. Andrew Sendejo, who played nearly every snap in games in which he was healthy, is also a free agent. If neither are back, that's a LOT of snaps to replace. Secondly, Delpit, as excited we all are to see him play, will be getting his first on-field action of his career. Third, it will be up to Andrew Berry and Co. to decide if they're looking to elevate the overall play of the room in 2021 and beyond. The answer, of course, is yes, and that applies to all of the team's position groups. How much maneuvering they think it will take to do that remains to be seen. Fourth, what if the Browns are on the clock at No. 26 and a player they view as far and away the best player available happens to be a safety? Can the Browns truly turn their back on that player?
These are all of the variables that go into pretty much every position group on the roster at this time of year. We'll just have to see how it all plays out.
In the 2003 draft, Pittsburgh traded up from 27 to 16 with Kansas City to select Troy Polamalu and did it by swapping first-round picks and adding their third- and sixth-round picks. Cleveland can move up from 26 to 20, according to the NFL draft calculator, by giving Chicago its first-, third- and sixth-round picks (same as what Pittsburgh gave up). Would you make that deal, and who are three players that might be available at 20, but not 26, who would make that move worthwhile? — Paul O., Portland
I love the well-researched wheeling and dealing, Paul. Keep these kinds of questions coming!
As for this scenario, I'd support a plan that netted a player that fit perfectly — in all aspects — with what the Browns want to accomplish and could not feasibly be obtained at No. 26. That's why teams compile assets — to make moves and stay aggressive, and Berry promised Wednesday the Browns would continue to operate aggressively.
"Now, perhaps how people define aggression may vary from person to person to person," Berry said. "That does not always mean that we are going to be heavy spenders externally … I think we have enough flexibility to adjust and maneuver as is appropriate. If there is a player who we think has the right value, I think we have the capability to be aggressive in pursuit."
So let's talk about the players that might be available at 20 who might not be available at 26. This is a trickier exercise than it would be if we were talking about the difference between 10 and 16, but we'll give it a shot. And, in the spirit of every mock draft under the sun projecting defensive players to the Browns, we'll stick with defense.
Here are five players who are being consistently pegged JUST a little outside of the Browns' range at No. 26.
CB Jaycee Horn (South Carolina)
DE Gregory Rousseau (Miami)
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah (Notre Dame)
DE Azeez Ojulari (Georgia)
LB Micah Parsons (Penn State)
Rousseau and Parsons were among the most notable players to opt out before the 2020 season. Owusu-Koromoah, meanwhile, made the absolute most of it, earning unanimous All-American honors and winning the Butkus Award after a dominant senior season. Horn was one of the SEC's top CBs before he opted out midway through the 2020 season.
Who are the best prospects at placekicker in the draft? — Jarett H., Sandusky
A couple of names to watch at kicker are Florida's Evan McPherson, Miami's Jose Borregales and Memphis' Riley Ferguson. McPherson became the second Florida kicker in the last five years to enter the draft a year early after connecting on 85 percent of his kicks over three seasons with the Gators. He made a whopping four field goals from 50 or more yards this past season. Borregales and Ferguson both received invitations to the Senior Bowl after their respective strong seasons and will be among the top kickers available in the draft.
I know Delpit was hurt in training camp last season. My question is do you think he will still be a rookie or do you think that the learning curve will be smaller and he will be able to play as a starter right away? — Ronald C., Clayton
The NFL will count Delpit as a second-year player, and he'll be entering 2021 with a full year of experience working in the league. He just didn't get any on-field experience, which is understandably important, but he was an active participant in all of the team's, defense's and his position group's meetings throughout the year. He spent valuable time alongside the players as he worked his way back from an Achilles injury. Delpit, for what it's worth, certainly expects to hit the ground running and so do the Browns.
"Some guys learn from doing. Some guys learn from listening and being on the board. I think Grant is a very conscientious kid," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said midway through the season. "He is making sure that this year he is still spending a lot of time and a lot of energy to understand the scheme and understand his role so when he hits the ground running, he is ready to go."
And just to stoke the excitement a little bit more, Stefanski said Tuesday that he had seen Delpit in the facility and he looked "great."
As far as becoming a starter, that will be on Delpit to prove in training camp. The Browns will make him earn it, just like every other player on the roster will have to earn their job.
"You never know with significant injuries how that ultimately unfolds," Berry said in January. "The one thing I can tell you about Grant and Greedy (Williams) is the way that those two have attacked their approach to rehab and staying engaged with the team and really they have prepared every week as if they were going to play even when it became obvious that they were not, I am very optimistic and very bullish on their physical recovery and then ultimately, when they do get back, of being able to play at a high level for us."