NFL Mock Draft: What will Cleveland Browns do with No. 1?

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The Cleveland Browns control the fate of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Cleveland has 11 picks in the draft’s seven rounds (tied with Cincinnati for most). They select four times in the first 52 and twice in the top 12.

To kick off the draft Thursday night, general manager Sashi Brown and Co. will decide much of how the first 10 picks unfold. And, if we’ve learned anything from last month’s shocking Brock Osweiler trade, it’s that this Browns front office isn’t afraid of the unconventional play.

In Sportsnet’s 2017 NFL Mock Draft, however, the Browns make the conventional choice with the first-overall pick and then take a risk that could make or break the latest Cleveland regime 11 selections later.

No, there aren’t any blockbuster trades here. But don’t be surprised to see one or two Thursday night or over the two days of draft madness preceding it, and don’t be surprised if the Browns get in on the action.

With that, here’s our mock draft, based on a combination of best player available, need/fit and some NFL rumour mill for good measure.

1) Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The Browns might be tempted to trade down or force-draft a quarterback here, but we’ve seen what adding a game-changing edge rusher has done for the Texans, Broncos and Raiders in recent drafts. This is the only move for Cleveland.

2) San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

At six-foot-three and 275 pounds, Thomas has the potential to make a big impact off the edge or from the interior of the defensive line. For a 49ers team in full-rebuild mode, Thomas is a good place to start.

3) Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The most complete cornerback in a very deep class of pass defenders, Lattimore can become a true shutdown corner for a Bears team in need of a No. 1.

4) Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

The Jaguars are going to give Blake Bortles another go-round this season, which means adding a six-foot-one, 240-pound bruiser with an underrated skill set would bring some much-needed relief to the embattled QB.

5) Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams): Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Athleticism, instincts, leadership — Adams has everything a team could want in a safety, and some believe the 21-year-old could end up being this draft’s best player. The Titans have plenty of holes to fill in the secondary, and solidify strong safety at No. 5.

6) New York Jets: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson

There has been much made of the QBs in this draft, but none of them have the experience and winning pedigree of Watson. The Jets need an answer under centre right now, and the Clemson pivot is the best bet.

7) Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Last season the Chargers desperately missed Eric Weddle, who went to Baltimore and had a Pro Bowl season on one of the league’s best defences. Hooker would fill that void immediately as a ball-hawking safety with a knack for making big plays.

8) Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

The Panthers would love to see Fournette fall to them here, and are also rumoured to like Christian McCaffrey for their first pick. But Allen would be a smart pick. Despite some shoulder-injury concerns, Allen is the best player available and can be a havoc-causing presence along the Panthers’ defensive front.

9) Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

It’s been a wild couple of months for Foster, who was dismissed from the combine and later had a urine test he took in Indy reported as dilute. But it’ll be hard for the Bengals to pass on Foster; he’s a dominant force in the middle who could end up commanding the defence in short order.

10) Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

With reports Buffalo is mulling over Sammy Watkins’s fifth-year option, there’s clearly worry within the Bills’ front office. That’s why Williams makes sense here. Worst case, Buffalo moves on from Watkins and has a new No. 1 in the six-foot-four Clemson product. Best case, the Bills have a terrifying WR duo.

11) New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

The Saints had 30 sacks last season, led by Cameron Jordan with just 7.5. Pass rush is a clear need. Barnett had 13 sacks last season and a school-record 32 over three years at Tennessee, and becomes the next piece in the ongoing defensive rebuild in the Big Easy.

12) Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

In this scenario, the Browns get it all: the best player in the draft, and they guy who could be their quarterback of the future. While Watson may be the most game-ready QB available, Trubisky could have the most NFL potential. Trubisky lacks Watson’s experience (he started just 13 college games), but has shown enough to put him in the first-round conversation this year.

13) Arizona Cardinals: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

The 2016 season was a major step backward for the Cardinals’ receiving core. Solution: the best tight-end prospect in recent memory. Criminally under-utilized in the pass game at Alabama, Howard is everything a team could want at the position.

14) Philadelphia Eagles: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

After impressive showings at the combine and his pro day, McCaffrey’s stock has been on the rise. A four-down threat as a runner, pass catcher and returner, McCaffrey becomes yet another weapon for the Eagles, the likes of which Carson Wentz severely lacked in his rookie season.

15) Indianapolis Colts: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

New GM Chris Ballard has worked hard at revamping Indy’s underwhelming defence and continues with Harris. The six-foot-three defensive end had 12 tackles for loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of pass deflections last season for the Tigers.

16) Baltimore Ravens: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Steve Smith is retired and Breshad Perriman has yet to become what the Ravens hope he will, so Baltimore adds the six-foot-three Davis, who is currently dealing with an injury but racked up an incredible 19 TD catches for Western Michigan in 2016.

17) Washington Redskins: Haasan Reddick, OLB, Temple

Washington has some big questions at linebacker and could answer at least one of them with the selection of Reddick, who started to rise up teams’ boards at the Senior Bowl and has continued to impress throughout the draft process.

18) Tennessee Titans: John Ross, WR, Washington

Ross, now famous after becoming the running the fastest-ever 40-yard dash at the combine (4.22 seconds), can stretch the field with blinding speed, has good hands and is a solid route-runner.

19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU

Off-the-field and testing issues have seen Cook’s stock fall from a potential top-10 pick, but the Florida State running back starts his pro career in a familiar position: playing in his home state with Jameis Winston, his college quarterback.

20) Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Arguably the best offensive tackle in a class that doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of certainty, the six-foot-six, 320-pound Robinson fills a need the Broncos have been struggling with over the last two seasons.

21) Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Detroit has been missing a true difference-maker at linebacker for quite some time. Davis had a monster season in 2015 — 94 tackles, 11 for loss, and an interception in 14 games — but injuries limited him to just nine in 2016. No need for concern, however. The athletic Davis made up for missed time with a spectacular pro day.

22) Miami Dolphins: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Cameron Wake is still a beast at 35, but is in the twilight of his career. In Charlton, the Dolphins add a six-foot-six athletic force who had 9.5 sacks last season and hasn’t yet tapped his full potential.

23) New York Giants: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Tackle was a big problem for the Giants down the stretch, as Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart allowed way too many QB pressures over the final half of the season. Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger, which is why New York should take steps to improve the offensive line.

24) Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Considering some of the issues the Raiders have had on defence in the Derek Carr era, expect Oakland to look to that side of the ball here. Somewhat overlooked because of Buckeye teammates Lattimore and Hooker, Conley has the potential to help right away in a secondary that ranked 24th last season.

25) Houston Texans: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

They Texans were able to dump Osweiler’s big-money deal this off-season, but are left without a viable option after Tony Romo retired. In Mahomes, Houston gets a gunslinger-type QB with plenty of growing to do, but a prospect Bill O’Brien likes… according to Mahomes, anyway.

26) Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Choosing not to invest in the offensive line has hurt the Seahawks, so putting their money on a first-round selection like Bolles, who stands out for his athleticism and footwork, is probably the way to go. They have to protect Russell Wilson.

27) Kansas City Chiefs: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

Having moved on from the oft-injured Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs are in the market for a running back and Kamara would be an excellent addition to Andy Reid’s offence. A great receiver and returner, the Tennessee back could quickly fill the hole in KC’s backfield.

28) Dallas Cowboys: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

The Cowboys lost both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency as well as safety Barry Church, so bringing in re-enforcements in the secondary is a must. Coming from the DB factory known as LSU, White played in at least 11 games in each of his four college seasons, wrapping up with 35 tackles, two INTs and 14 passes defenced in 2016.

29) Green Bay Packers: Kevin King, CB, Washington

The Packers were second-worst against the pass last season and, like a lot of teams this season, would be smart to take advantage of the quality available in this draft. Height at corner is more coveted than ever, and at six-foot-three, King has the size and coverage skills to make him worthy of a first-round pick.

30) Pittsburgh Steelers: David Njoku, TE, Miami

The idea of Ladarius Green catching passes from Big Ben is intriguing, but Green played in just six games last season. And whether he’s healthy or not, Pittsburgh needs to invest in the position. Njoku is a dangerous receiving weapon who hauled in eight touchdowns for Miami last season.

31) Atlanta Falcons: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky

The Falcons are in need of a right guard and select the top-rated player at the position to take his place. Lamp is a versatile lineman, giving Atlanta the option to move him around if need be.

32) New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots): Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

If the rumours are true, the Saints would prefer to add Malcolm Butler in another trade with the Patriots. That seems less likely with every passing day, so New Orleans drafts Jackson, an explosive playmaker who can star in the return game and even played some offence in SoCal.

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