Everyone has their own vision of what a perfect draft looks like for their favorite team. The perfect scenario for one is not going to be the perfect scenario for all. In the case of the Cleveland Browns, it is clear that their primary needs are left tackle, linebacker, safety and defensive tackle. It would also be difficult to pass on a talented wide receiver if the value is right. Could they draft a tight end to eventually replace David Njoku? There are a number of different paths that the team could take.
Here is the perfect plan:
Step 1: Land an elite option at left tackle
It all starts at No. 10 overall for the Browns. They should be in a position to select one of the four best prospects at that position: Georgia's Andrew Thomas, Louisville's Mekhi Becton, Alabama's Jedrick Wills and Iowa's Tristan Wirfs. Cleveland is implementing a zone-blocking scheme so they need a mobile tackle. The team is also asking this player to start on the left side.
When looking at the options, Thomas is the only one that has predominantly played on the left side and is most comfortable in a zone-blocking scheme. He makes sense. It is not to say that a right tackle could not flip to the left side but, there is no reason to chase it if it is unnecessary. What happens if Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons fall? It could get interesting.
Step 2: Add depth and competition to the linebacker group
Cleveland signed B.J. Goodson to compete with Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson after allowing Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert to leave in free agency. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods would be relying upon a few young guys as well as another with limitations. It is a bold strategy for a team with aspirations to compete. They should add one and likely two more players to compete at that level.
It is unlikely that LSU's Patrick Queen or Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray fall to their pick in the second round but those would be two ideal scenarios. Appalachian State's Akeem Davis-Gaither is a personal favorite because of the way that he plays the game. Wyoming's Logan Wilson and Mississippi State's Willie Gay Jr. are a few others that could make sense.
Step 3: Land a safety capable of challenging for a starting role
There are less than a handful of players capable of stepping in and starting immediately: Alabama's Xavier McKinney, LSU's Grant Delpit, California's Ashtyn Davis, Utah's Terrell Burgess and Southern Illinois' Jeremy Chinn. Davis and Burgess carry some injury concerns. Chinn has the size to play linebacker and may honestly be better served to play there in the long run.
Minnesota's Antoine Winfield Jr. and Utah's Julian Blackmon are a few other players that would certainly compete and might eventually take on a starting role.
Step 4: Add depth and competition to the defensive tackle unit
Larry Ogunjobi has had one strong season of play. Sheldon Richardson flashes as well. The team also signed a promising young player, Andrew Billings, in free agency. Those three form a solid unit but Richardson is likely gone next offseason. It would benefit them to plan for his replacement now. In the meantime, it would add depth and competition.
In the second round, Oklahoma's Neville Gallimore, TCU's Ross Blacklock and Missouri's Jordan Elliott would be intriguing options. In the third round, the team could look at Ohio State's Davon Hamilton, Texas A&M's Justin Madubuike or N.C. State's Larrell Murchison.
The sample perfect mock draft:
Round 1 (10): Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Round 2 (41): Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Round 3 (74): Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
Round 3 (97): Julian Blackmon, DB, Utah
Round 4 (115): Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
Round 6 (187): Khaleke Hudson, LB, Michigan
Round 7 (244): Ahmad Wagner, TE, Kentucky