More than halfway through April, and the Browns just keep getting better.
It's been quite a week in Berea, and the action isn't slowing up anytime soon. The virtual portion of the offseason program starts Monday, and the NFL Draft is just THIRTEEN days away.
The Mailbag is overflowing, per usual, and we're knocking out four of your questions before heading into the weekend.
If the Browns trade back from No. 26 to the early second round (33-40), what compensation would they get based on earlier draft data? — Sonny W., Stow
We got asked a question like this last week, but the order of operations was reversed — you're one of the few who has ever asked about trading backward instead of forward. Either way, the cost of making that kind of move typically involves an additional third-round pick. Last year, for example, the Patriots traded the No. 23 pick for the Chargers' second- (37) and third-round selections (71). In 2019, the Rams traded out of No. 31 and landed a similar haul. That same year — and with the 26th pick, to boot — Indianapolis received Washington's second-round pick (46) and a future second-round pick.
If Jaycee Horn, Greg Newsome, Zaven Collins, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah are all gone by No. 26, do the Browns take Rashod Bateman? — Vontae M., Cambridge
Now this is a fun one.
As we've documented so many times over the past couple of months, it's borderline impossible to find a mock draft that doesn't have the Browns selecting a defensive player. Even after the Browns added six defensive players in free agency — the latest, of course, being three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney — draft analysts are still laser-focused on the Browns adding another weapon to the defense. We did find one, however, that went in a different direction, as Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com tabbed the Browns to take Ole Miss WR Elijah Moore. It should be noted that Trapasso has gone back to the defense in his latest mock and now has Cleveland taking Owusu-Koromoah.
With that in mind, it's a good time to discuss the wide receiver position, one in which the Browns are truly "running it back" in 2021. All five of the team's top pass-catchers from 2020 — Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge and Donovan Peoples-Jones — are set to return. So, too, is JoJo Natson, who primarily contributed as a returner but also got a few snaps at WR before going down with a season-ending knee injury. So, for 2021, the Browns are in good shape. The draft, though, is about so much more than the upcoming season, and wide receiver is certainly a spot where the Browns could inject some more youth and talent. That's why it's been fairly common to see some draft analysts projecting the team to address the position as early as the second round or with one of its two picks in the third. Mel Kiper Jr. was the most notable an recent to do so, as he tabbed the Browns to take Western Michigan's D'Wayne Eskridge with the 59th overall pick. Eskridge is among the 14 wide receivers CBSSports.com includes in its Top 100 players in this year's draft. It's yet another loaded class of pass-catchers, and there's likely to be value in each round at the position — much like the Browns experienced last year getting Peoples-Jones in the sixth round.
That brings us back to Bateman, who starred at Minnesota before a COVID-affected 2020 campaign. Bateman brings some desirable versatility, as he lined up in a number of different spots throughout his college career. His 2019 stats were among the best in the country, as he hauled in 60 passes for 1,219 yards — 20.3 yards per catch — and 11 touchdowns. Most mock drafts peg him as a late first-round selection, so if the Browns want him, they probably can't wait until their second pick. That said, if they wait until the second round or later — like most draft analysts are projecting — there are a boatload of options at their disposal.
With Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, and Nick Chubb going into their fourth season, is there any talk of contract extensions for any of them? — Rich W., Cleveland
Browns EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry has been asked about pending extensions on a number of occasions throughout the offseason but has maintained it is something he'll keep between himself and the players. Of note, the Browns will have to make their decision on fifth-year options for Mayfield and Ward next month.
"We have a lot of major decisions that we are going to make, and the first of those come with guys who have expiring contracts within the next two and a half weeks," "We do have a number of players who are extension eligible, of which Nick is one," Berry said in early March when answering a question about Chubb. "That is something that we will sort through as we go through the offseason. Certainly, we like Nick – the player and the person. All of those big decisions are things that we have to figure out the overall big picture as we navigate the next several months."
Knowing we're going to need a cornerback, what are the chances of getting Greedy's brother Rodarius Williams in the draft? What round may he go? — Thomas B., Maricopa, Arizona
Rodarius Williams is actually the older brother of Greedy. He spent five years at Oklahoma State, redshirting the first and going on to start a school-record 48 straight games. He got a Senior Bowl invite and figures to be a Day 2 or Day 3 selection. CBSSports.com ranks Williams as the 126th-best overall prospect and the 14th-best cornerback. Here's the breakdown from NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.
His size and expected straight-line speed will work in his favor. However, Williams might be lacking the natural athletic attributes to handle press duties and the instincts needed for zone. If coaching can tighten up his press technique, he might be in consideration as a Cover 2 cornerback with the ability to step up and support the run. He's become better at staying in phase with the route and can be a handful to deal with on 50-50 throws due to his size and physical nature.
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