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Dawg Pound Journal: Mel Kiper says the Browns remain a 'mystery team' in the NFL draft


As he does once each month before the NFL draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. fielded 90 minutes worth of questions Thursday afternoon on a conference call.

And the Browns, who hold 10 picks, including two in the first round, were a regular topic of conversation.

Here's what the NFL draft guru had to say.

  • Kiper Jr. said he genuinely liked the additions of wide receivers Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, defensive lineman Randy Starks and cornerback Tramon Williams, and the added veteran depth makes the Browns even more of a "mystery team."
  •  "They are a tough team to figure," Kiper Jr. said. "They could go with an offensive lineman like Brandon Scherff (Iowa), with his versatility, I think could be a great pick for Cleveland at 12, if he drops that far ... Could you pass on a receiver at No.12 and get a receiver like Breshad Perriman (Central Florida), like a Jaelen Strong at Arizona State? You could. They have a variety of ways they could go but I still think the biggest issue they have is at quarterback."
  • Trade rumors have continued to swirl all throughout the NFL this entire offseason – more so than any in recent memory. Does Kiper Jr. think Cleveland could be in the market to trade one of its first rounders for another veteran quarterback or even Oregon's Marcus Mariota? Likely not.
  • "It depends on where Mariota is going to go," Kiper Jr. said. "If he's going to No. 5 to the Redskins or No. 6 to the Jets, that's probably too high because they are probably not going to trade out of there."
  • Two players the Browns have been heavily linked to are Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker and Washington defensive lineman Danny Shelton. At this point, Kiper Jr. seems to be much higher on Parker than Shelton.
  • "Parker is a fear-factor player," Kiper Jr. said. "He's got deceptive quickness coming out of those breaks. To me, he's worthy of being in the top 15, definitely. He's the third receiver that somebody is going to take – whether it's St. Louis at No. 10, Minnesota at No. 11 to reunite him with Teddy Bridgewater, whether it's Cleveland at No. 12 or Miami at No. 14."
  • "The question on Shelton: Is he a two-down player?" Kiper Jr. said. "In this league, you throw the ball a lot. How much of a factor is a guy that is going to be running a slow 40-yard dash like that? We've never had that in the first round where somebody ran such a slow 40 as he did. Granted, it's about performance and some people say the 40 doesn't matter – but I've got people in the league that tell me it does … Granted, he can stop the run. Granted, he got penetration and affected the quarterback at Washington. But this is the NFL, though. Again, great college players aren't always great NFL players."
  • Kiper Jr. also addressed Ohio State national championship winning quarterback, Cardale Jones. Although the Cleveland native returned to school, we hypothetically asked Kiper Jr. where he would've landed in the 2015 draft.
  • "Had he been in this draft, you'd be debating whether he should be the third quarterback taken – ahead of Bryce Petty, Garrett Grayson and Brett Hundley," Kiper Jr. said. "I still think a second-round draft choice had he been in this draft. Thankfully, he went back and he could maybe elevate to being the first pick in the draft. Instead of worrying about the third quarterback or the second round, he's got a chance of being way high up in the first round next year."
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