In the final buildup to the draft, we’re taking our analysis of the draft’s prospects one step further. We’re making the case for and against 10 of the players and scenarios that are linked to the Browns, who hold the No. 1 and No. 4 picks.
The case for NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb
1. Best pass rusher in the draft: Chubb had the opportunity to enter the draft last year and, odds are, he’d have been a first-round pick. He opted to return to NC State and will reap the rewards because of it. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t think Chubb is the best pass-rushing prospect in this year’s class, a distinction that all but assures he’ll be a top-10 selection. The top pass rusher has been picked at No. 1 or No. 3 in each of the past five drafts, making it an absolute coup if the Browns could land him with the fourth pick. It’s one of the most valuable positions on the field, and it’s hard to pass up someone as good at playing it as Chubb does.
2. He’s reliable and can do it all: Chubb is considered a “clean” prospect because of his lack of off-the-field concerns and minimal injury history. Outside of this past year’s bowl game, which he sat out to maintain his good health going into the pre-draft process, Chubb didn’t miss a single game in his final three seasons at NC State. Though he’s not a flashy, freak athlete like some of the recent top-ranked pass rushers to come out of college, Chubb has an NFL-ready body and a work ethic that pushed him to get better and better throughout his college career. He’s a force against the run, as displayed by his 26 tackles for loss, as well as against the pass, and he has the flexibility to play at multiple spots and in multiple schemes. Simply put, it’s hard to find weaknesses in his overall game.
3. You can never have enough pass rushers: The Browns have devoted significant draft capital to pass rushers over the past few years, including, of course, the No. 1 overall pick to Myles Garrett in 2017. In theory, the Browns are set at the end positions with Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah, the team’s second-round selection in 2016. Injuries, though, hurt both players last season, and the value of depth was tested in a major way. Cleveland’s production at the position dipped, and it hurt the entire defense. The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles showed there’s no such thing as too many talented pass rushers, and the Browns, even with their recent roster moves, are in no position to turn one down, especially one with the talent level of Chubb.
Could the Browns add even more talent to their defensive line?
The case against Chubb
1. Another defensive lineman?: Over the past three drafts, the Browns have used two first-round picks, two second-rounders and three third-round selections on defensive linemen. Two (Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper) are no longer with the team, but the remainder comprise a young core that has been supplemented by a number of pleasant surprises along the way, such as Trevon Coley and Jamie Meder. Adding another to the room could be viewed by some as overkill, especially when it comes time to sign those players to their second contracts.
2. There might be better options at that spot in the draft: The first three picks could break in a number of different ways. What seems to be almost a lock, though, is the Browns -- if they take a quarterback at No. 1 -- will have their choice of whom they consider to be, at the least, the second-best non-quarterback in this entire year’s class. If the Giants opt for a quarterback at No. 2, Cleveland would all but assuredly be getting the best non-quarterback because the Jets, who traded into the third spot, are all but a lock to take a signal-caller. That gives the Browns some options that go beyond Chubb and are equally tempting. Saquon Barkley, who many believe is the draft’s top overall prospect, would sure look nice in Cleveland’s new-look offense. Minkah Fitzpatrick or Denzel Ward would be a heck of an addition to a new-look secondary. And the trade offers, presumably, will be pouring in from teams who covet one of the final, “top” quarterbacks on the board.
3. Cleveland could find talented pass rushers later in the draft: With three second-round picks, the Browns have a lot of flexibility near the end of Day 1 and throughout Day 2. If they covet a pass rusher near the end of the first round, such as Texas-San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport or Boston College’s Harold Landry, they have the assets to make that kind of move feasible. It didn’t take much last year for the Browns to snag a third, first-round pick, and with picks at No. 33, 35 and 64, they can make a move much higher into that first round than they did to take David Njoku at 29. Players like Davenport, Landry and LSU’s Arden Key might not provide the total package that Chubb does, but they could be serviceable, integral pieces to a rotating defense from Day 1.