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Mike Mayock: 2017 class among 'best defensive drafts I've seen'

The Browns enter the offseason armed with a bevy of draft picks, including the first and 12th overall selections.

And while it's unclear what direction Cleveland will head in the coming months, it's obvious the franchise will have options when it comes to bolstering a new-look defense that struggled last season.

"I think this is one of the best defensive drafts I've seen," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who spoke Monday on a wide-ranging conference call before the league's scouting combine. "This defensive draft at edge and corner is outstanding. Also at safety."

That, of course, includes prospects such as Texas A&M's Myles Garrett and Alabama's Jonathan Allen, who are considered top five picks.

"I think they're both difference makers," Mayock said, adding both could blossom under head coach Hue Jackson and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Here's what else Mayock had to say about this year's draft class, including his thoughts on Allen, this year's quarterbacks and more.

Mayock called Allen as a "top two or three" player and lauded the former Crimson Tide captain for his work ethic on and off the field. "Inside or outside, I think he's a special player," Mayock said.

 Speaking of edge rushers and the defensive line, Mayock said standouts such as Tennessee's Derek Barnett, Stanford's Solomon Thomas and Michigan's Taco Charlton are poised to join Allen and Garrett as quality picks. "There's great quality at the top," he said, "but there's depth throughout."

— Asked about this year's top quarterbacks — which include Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky and Clemson's Deshaun Watson — Mayock said, "I'm not bullish on the quarterbacks this year because I don't think any of them are ready on Day 1."

— More on the quarterbacks: Mayock described Miami's Brad Kaaya, Tennessee's Josh Dobbs, Cal's Davis Webb and Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes as "talented but developmental" players. Mayock, in particular, zeroed in on Mahomes, saying he has an "innate feel for the game" and could be "picking up steam in NFL circles" as the draft process churns on.

 Mayock heaped praise on this year's class of cornerbacks, saying the depth is as good as it's been in years. "I can get through four rounds of quality corners," he said, "and I've never been able to say that before." Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, Washington's Sidney Jones, LSU's Tre'Davious White, Florida's Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson are all expected to be first or second-round picks.  

Asked to compare LSU's Jamal Adams and Ohio State's Malik Hooker (who are considered this year's top two safeties), Mayock said Adams is a more physical player while Hooker has better range and ball skills. "He's got an instinct for the game and an ability to get around the football," he said of Hooker, adding, "it's really what a team's looking for."

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