Browns Mailbag

Browns Mailbag: Which Buckeyes could make sense for Browns in 2020 NFL Draft?

We're wrapping up the first month of the year with four of your questions on this fifth Friday of January.

Who makes sense to sign in free agency to help fill the safety and tackle void? Consider the age of player and money it would take to sign the free agent. -- Joe B., Cuyahoga Falls

Let's start with tackle, where it's always tough sledding in free agency. This can apply to a lot of the positions on the football field, but it's even stronger when discussing quarterbacks, tackles and pass rushers. The best ones rarely, if ever, hit the market, and the ones who do come at a premium cost.

If the Browns are looking for a short-term fix, a handful of veterans could hit the market. That group includes Green Bay's Bryan Bulaga, Indianapolis' Anthony Castonzo and Jason Peters of the Eagles. Tennessee's Jack Conklin would be a free agent if the 2020 league year started today, but the Titans still have two months to bring him back, and he's expressed an interest to do just that. Another young name to monitor is D.J. Humphries, a former first-round pick who struggled in his time with the Cardinals but showed improvement this past season.

As for safeties, there are a handful of young, rising players who could see big paydays. Minnesota's Anthony Harris is ranked by many as one of the top potential free agents. The former undrafted free agent tied for the league lead in interceptions, and the Vikings might have a tough time bringing him back. The same goes for Denver's Justin Simmons. He's 26 and coming off his third consecutive year as an every-game starter. He played well enough this past season to merit some questions about potentially playing on the franchise tag in 2020. 

Some safeties who are relatively young and could come a little cheaper than those two include Jimmie Ward (49ers), HaHa Clinton-Dix (Bears) and Adrian Phillips (Chargers). The Browns, of course, have a safety of their own set to hit free agency in Damarious Randall. They'll have the next two months to strike a deal with him before he hits the market.

How much cap space is available this upcoming free agency and how much do you expect the Browns to use with upcoming contracts looming? -- Tip Q., Akron

I don't have an answer to the second part of that question because that's likely still being determined. And, well, sometimes it's out of your hands and in those of prospective free agents, who always have multiple offers. You can be sure the Browns will look at this next cycle with not just the 2020 season in mind, but the many seasons after that because of the aforementioned looming extensions you mentioned.

According to Spotrac.com, the Browns have a little more than $50 million in expected cap space for 2020, a figure that ranks 15th in the league. That total, of course, can change in the coming months, but that's where it stands now.

10 Players to Watch at the Senior Bowl

Being from Ohio, I think many Browns fans like to see Cleveland draft former Buckeyes. Who do you see being drafted from the Buckeyes? What round? And why? I have Malik Harrison in mind in the middle rounds and Hill or Victor in the late rounds. -- Brent H., Columbus

Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Barring a trade, the Browns likely won't have a shot at talented Buckeyes pass rusher Chase Young or lockdown cornerback Jeff Okudah. Young has been listed as the No. 2 pick in basically every mock draft since the end of the season while Okudah is considered a consensus top-five selection. Still, there will be plenty more opportunities to add a Buckeye or two to the roster in the following rounds.

Five Ohio State players participated in the Senior Bowl -- WR K.J. Hill, WR Austin Mack, LB Malik Harrison, DT DaVon Hamilton and OG Jonah Jackson. Playing in the game doesn't guarantee they'll all be selected in April, but it certainly ups the odds. Last year, 93 of the participating players were drafted. All five play positions that certainly can't be ignored by the Browns in the coming months. Harrison, in particular, could be a very interesting prospect for a Browns team that has a looming decision on Joe Schobert and was a little thin at the position even with him on the roster last year. Harrison is ranked by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. as the sixth-best inside linebacker in this year's draft class, making him a likely Day 2 selection. Harrison made an exceptional interception in the final day of Senior Bowl practices and caught the attention of ESPN draft guru Todd McShay, who labeled him as the player who intrigued him and would require more film study.

There are a few others to monitor, as Ohio State could very well produce more than 10 selections by the time the draft is complete. The Browns appear to have plenty of depth at running back, but J.K. Dobbins looks to be a special talent who will warrant attention in the late first round or early second. You can never have enough cornerbacks, so a player such as Damon Arnette could be of interest on Day 2 as well. Jordan Fuller, a three-year starter and captain at Ohio State, also could be a nice depth addition at safety on Day 2/3.

If Isaiah Simmons and Andrew Thomas are both off the board, what are your thoughts on Grant Delpit from LSU? -- Robert M., Columbus

First things first, if the Browns are looking for a tackle with the No. 10 pick and Thomas isn't available, there are still a few other good options in Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs and Mekhi Becton. But that's a different discussion for a different day.

It's hard to go wrong with a defensive back from LSU, and Delpit won the Thorpe Award this past season. He's either the No. 1 or No. 2 safety in most rankings and is projected by some to be picked before the Browns are even on the clock with the No. 10 selection. The two-time All-American was probably better in 2018 than he was in 2019, but the dropoff in performance can be attributed to an ankle injury he had throughout the season. Delpit can be a big-time playmaker in the back end of a defense, and the Browns could be in the market for more talent and depth at the safety position. Whether or not they attack it in the first round remains to be seen. That'd likely be the only chance Cleveland has at nabbing Delpit.

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