Cleveland Browns 2019 Draft Mulligan

Photo: © Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

When the second round ended, the Browns had basically spent a first, second, third, Kevin Zeitler, and Jabrill Peppers for Odell Beckham Jr. and Greedy Williams.

Can't emphasize enough: that's a great first two rounds, when you look at it holistically. A WR1 when you desperately needed one, and a CB1 when you already have one. The Browns' talent at the key defensive positions -- CB, EDGE, DT -- are all upper echelon in the league.

Picking a mulligan in the Browns draft is accordingly difficult, because this roster is low-key (but not really low-key) good. Tough to find a weakness on the team besides the obvious hurdle of coalescence that faces teams that have retooled heavily in the past offseason. Regardless, I have near-blind faith in Baker Mayfield, so I'm fully drinking the Kool-Aid, gang.

2.46 - CB Greedy Williams, LSU

3.80 - LB Sione Takitaki, BYU

4.119 - S Sheldrick Redwine, Miami

5.155 - LB Mack Wilson, Alabama

5.170 - K Austin Seibert, Oklahoma

6.189 - OG Drew Forbes, Southeast Missouri State

7.221 - CB Donnie Lewis, Tulane

Goodness gracious the Browns really drafted a kicker. Easy to forget about that, when the rest of the class is so solid. Maybe I should change that pick?

No. I'm sticking to my guns.

Sione Takitaki was woefully overdrafted. 80th overall? For a player who lacks starter upside in terms of range, man coverage ability, and even tackling consistency? I just don't get that. Ideally Takitaki develops into a thumping MIKE with an increased willingness to play physical, but if you think he can be a sideline-to-sideline, three-down player, we watched different film.

What are you hoping to get out of Takitaki long-term? Likely a Joe Schobert replacement, which could work if he develops -- but without the blitzing profile on third downs. I'd be much more willing to draft and develop that role player in the fifth round -- where the Browns got excellent coverage linebacker Mack Wilson -- than in the third.

As such, I need a higher impact player. On Locked On NFL Draft Mulligan's podcast, I swapped Takitaki out for San Diego State TE Kahale Warring, citing a poor depth chart behind David Njoku, who's still far from a sure bet.

But Trevor's mulligan for the Browns was a better approach, in my opinion, and I'm stealing the idea shamelessly.

My Browns Draft Mulligan: LB Sione Takitaki for S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

Chauncey!

This offseason, the Browns moved on from Jabrill Peppers, another ill-fated early selection of the Sashi Brown era. He was part of the package that went to New York for WR Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns won't be missing too much, as their current depth chart in Morgan Burnett and Damarious Randall has enough starting ability to get by -- and of course, in the fourth round, the Browns grabbed Sheldrick Redwine to spell their starters as SAF3.

Redwine is a bit of a corner/safety hybrid -- and the same goes for Gardner-Johnson, who spent much of his senior season at Florida in the nickel, handling slots and tight ends in man coverage and short zones. In many ways, Gardner-Johnson is similar in profile to current Browns starter Damarious Randall, when he came out of Arizona State: lacking in size and ideal free safety instincts, but bringing great tackling, man coverage ability, ball skills, and toughness to the position.

The ability to go Big Nickel or even Big Dime with Gardner-Johnson and Redwine is huge for the Browns: as teams look to spread defenses out with multiple wide receivers and plus splits, corners increasingly have key responsibilities to come up and make tackles in the running game. As the Alex Gibbs adage goes: block safeties, not corners.

But when you have multiple safeties who can win in short zones and man coverage, you don't have to force smaller and more tentative nickelbacks onto the field in the key overhang positions. You can add quickness and ball skills without sacrificing much size, physicality, and tackling ability.

The current nickels on the Browns' roster are TJ Carrie and Lenzy Pipkins (and Donnie Lewis, their 7th rounder) -- not thrilling options by any means, so the role is there for the taking. By swapping out a run-defending linebacker for a versatile defensive back, the Browns lean into the changes of modern NFL defenses, without sacrificing their integrity against the run or the pass.

Written By:

Benjamin Solak

Director of Special Projects

Director of Special Projects and Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast. The 3-Wide Raven.

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