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Browns draft 2018: Grades and reaction from national media

• Updated Apr 29, 2018 at 6:58 PM

By Scott Patsko - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

CLEVELAND — John Dorsey completed his first draft as Browns GM on Saturday. The team's nine picks included No. 1 overall — quarterback Baker Mayfield — along with potential starters at cornerback, left tackle and running back.

You can get a rundown of the new Browns and even grade the draft yourself here on cleveland.com.

Here's a collection of what national media had to say about it:

ESPN: Mel Kiper Jr.

Kiper gave the Browns a B-minus for this year's draft class.

"It's all about Baker. I said it when the pick was made, and I still feel that way. Give new general manager John Dorsey credit: he stuck to his guns and took the guy he believes in. Last year he traded up for Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City - not at all a chalk pick at the time - and this year he went with Mayfield, who lacks classic No. 1 QB prototype traits but brings elite accuracy, significant experience, and former walk-on moxie that seems to galvanize teammates.

"Denzel Ward was the top cornerback in this class and hits an obvious need. ... I like Austin Corbett (pick 33) as an immediate depth option on a line where the Joe Thomas void feels significant. No. 35 pick Nick Chubb's arrival means the Browns now have one of the more interesting backfields in the NFL - he, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson can provide a lot of looks and production. Chad Thomas (67) provides some rotational help, and if he pans out, the absence of Chubb won't be as much of a conversation. ... Antonio Callaway is that classic mixed bag. On one hand, this is a supreme talent with first-round pedigree. But the 'yeah, but' is impossible to ignore. The off-field issues are significant, and there's an outside chance he doesn't stick at all. That said, him Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, David Njoku, and that group of running backs? That's a lot of talent."

ESPN: Todd McShay

McShay compiled his best value picks for each team. For the Browns, McShay said running back Nick Chubb fit the criteria.

"Some might question Cleveland's Day 1 haul of Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall) and Denzel Ward (No. 4), but there's no questioning this pick. One of my colleague Louis Riddick's favorite players in the draft, Chubb has terrific lateral agility as a runner and just crushed the combine (4.52 40, 38-inch vertical jump, 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump). My third-ranked RB was available here only because he tore three ligaments in his left knee in 2015. He'll be a nice rotational back with free-agent signing Carlos Hyde."

NFL.com: Elliott Harrison

Harrison listed the Browns' draft as one that he remains on the fence about.

"Word on the street was that a few teams didn't even have a first-round grade on first overall pick Baker Mayfield. Needless to say, that is a rarity. In that sense, Mayfield might be the most controversial leadoff since the Chiefs took Eric Fisher at the top in 2013. Cornerback Denzel Ward (picked fourth overall) is a reader, identifying routes and closing ... fast. He'll instantly upgrade the secondary. Man oh man, though, Cleveland could've gone after Bradley Chubb to form a helluva 1-2 punch with Myles Garrett. Austin Corbett (Round 2, No. 33) was a solid pick in a stout draft for interior linemen. Fellow second-round pick Nick Chubb (No. 35) fills a need for a between-the-tackles running back, especially with Duke Johnson present for third downs, at least for this year. But given all the Browns' needs, was this falling in line with a BPA philosophy at 35th overall? Chad Thomas was an interesting decision at 67th overall. The main concern on him seems to be whether football will be his first love. He plays nine instruments. Freaking awesome in real life; not as cool in football life. At least not to GMs, apparently."

MMQB: Albert Breer

Breer gave the Browns a B-minus for their draft class.

"Baker Mayfield's beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Let's give the Browns the benefit of the doubt since they surely researched this year's QBs more than any of us (and perhaps all of us combined). But let's also acknowledge that this a roll of the dice. A 6-foot QB must play differently in the NFL. Mayfield dazzled with his sandlot plays at Oklahoma, but his best work actually came when he threw on schedule and within rhythm. If he's to pan out, it'll be via the Drew Brees path, not the Russell Wilson path.

"A Drew Brees-type quarterback needs a firm pocket. The Browns already had an outstanding guard tandem in Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler, and they didn't want to gamble with intriguing-but-still-inconsistent third-year man Shon Coleman in Joe Thomas's old left tackle spot. So, they spent a second-rounder on guard Austin Corbett, who will slide outside. That pick makes sense. The one made two spots later does not. Why draft Nick Chubb after you signed a terrific base runner like Carlos Hyde and still have a versatile scatback like Duke Johnson?

"At No. 4, taking Denzel Ward over Bradley Chubb was GM John Dorsey's way of saying a pass rush can be manufactured through scheme, as long as you have corners who can cover one-on-one. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has taken this approach for decades. The Browns still needed more pieces around last year's No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, though, which is why the team spent their lone third-rounder on Chad Thomas."

CBSSports.com: Will Brinson

Brinson picked his winners and losers from the draft, and the Browns make the winners list.

"Ward is a great player but give me the pass rusher (Bradley Chubb) all day, especially with Chubb being the best player in the draft. Otherwise I love what they did. ... Baker Mayfield at No. 1 will define this draft in the end. I had him as the QB1 in this class and believe in what he can bring to a modern NFL offense, but there is absolutely 'get you fired' potential with Mayfield because of his brash personality, the nature of this No. 1 pick and the difficulty in evaluating quarterbacks. If anyone can save Cleveland it's Mayfield.

"I would have preferred Will Hernandez at No. 33 but going Austin Corbett and then picking up Nick Chubb at No. 35 was a really nice way to kick off the second round. Chubb could make Carlos Hyde expendable after just one year, in the same way Mayfield will likely make Tyrod Taylor a free agent after 2018.

"Chad Thomas is a part-time rapper who can rush the passer and Antonio Callaway, who is loaded with red flags, could be the most talented receiver in the draft. Good value in the third and fourth rounds. ... Sashi Brown should get some credit for the Browns having lots of draft picks, but John Dorsey will be guy reaping the rewards if these picks hit, and justifiably so."

The Ringer: Danny Kelly

Kelly handed out his post-draft awards, and "The They're Finally, Actually, Quite Possibly Turning Their Franchise Around Award" went to the Browns.

"... it's hard not to view this weekend as the potential turning point for a long-suffering franchise, because Cleveland took its veritable treasure chest of draft capital and turned it into what could be the nucleus of, well, a good team.

"In the first round, new Browns general manager John Dorsey grabbed playmakers at two of the most important positions in the game. ... In the second round, the Browns grabbed Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett, who could solve the team's vacancy at left tackle or add interior depth up front, and Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who should bring a no-nonsense, physical, downhill running style to the ground game. Cleveland later proceeded to add Miami defensive end Chad Thomas, who has the ability to feature into the team's pass rush rotation, and Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway, (who) failed a drug test at the combine and dropped down draft boards due to character concerns, but is a dynamic pass catcher who could emerge as a nice playmaker out of the slot.

"The Browns may still be a year or two away from a breakout, but they've amassed a stockpile of talent via free agency, trades, and the draft over the past few years. ... With the obvious caveat that this is the Browns, I'm cautiously optimistic about this team's future."

NFL.com: Chad Reuter

Reuter offered his quick-snap grades for all 32 teams, and gave the Browns an overall grade of B-plus.

"Browns GM John Dorsey benefited from his predecessors' bounty. They picked up a first-round pick in this draft by trading down and passing on Deshaun Watson last April. Now, they have Mayfield, a fiery leader with passing skills that they believe can take the team's mojo to the next level. They had to pick a QB at No. 1, and they did. The only red flag here is that Mayfield needs to make plays from the pocket to succeed. If Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen excel and Mayfield doesn't, then their process was flawed. Picking Ward No. 4 overall, ahead of Bradley Chubb, was a bit of a reach. If he ends up being a Terence Newman clone, though, it could turn out to be a good pick. On Day 2, the Browns used a pick they received in Brock Osweiler trade to solidify their offensive line with Corbett, who can play inside or outside. Will he replace Joe Thomas?

"Chubb was an excellent choice, as well, because he will pound the ball between the tackles and create space for himself. Thomas is an athletic, explosive defensive end who can make an impact as a rotational player right away. Keep in mind that the Browns also used a third-round pick to get a solid veteran starter in Tyrod Taylor, who will be a bridge to Mayfield. One of the Browns' fourth-round picks went to Miami for receiver Jarvis Landry. Then they traded up in Round 4 to select another receiver in Callaway, who had many off-field issues but could be a steal down the road if he can stay out of trouble. Avery would have been a top-75 pick without a knee injury, so Dorsey stole a future starter in the fifth round. Getting a defensive tackle to replace Danny Shelton is the only pressing need left for after the draft."

SB Nation: Dan Kadar

Kadar gave the Browns a B-minus with his draft grades.

"Taking quarterback Baker Mayfield first overall is a big, splashy move that will define the regime of new general manager John Dorsey. First things first, Mayfield isn't the second coming of Johnny Manziel. There was no more accurate quarterback in this draft than Mayfield. It was also a culture pick. The Browns don't have a identity or a leader. They do now with Mayfield, a player teammates love. The Browns followed up that pick by taking Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward fourth overall. Pass rusher Bradley Chubb may have been a better choice, but Ward is the draft's best cornerback and gives the Browns a shut down corner.

"On the draft's second day the Browns checked off some needs, starting with offensive lineman Austin Corbett. Where he plays in the NFL is to be determined. Leading up to the draft, the consensus opinion is that he'd have to move inside to guard, but the Browns are set there. That makes the pick a little curious. Running back Nick Chubb, is a talented and powerful back who should eventually become Cleveland's lead runner. After passing on Bradley Chubb, the Browns smartly picked Miami's Chad Thomas at 67th. He wasn't overly productive at Miami, but has tools. Trading up in the fourth round to take Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway was a curious move. Memphis linebacker Genard Avery was a steal in the fifth round."

NFLDraftScout.com: Rob Rang

Rang graded the AFC teams and gave the Browns an A, the best grade in the AFC North.

"It takes bold moves to turn around a franchise with the losing streak Cleveland has endured and that is precisely what general manager John Dorsey and his staff provided, nabbing lightning rod quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1 overall and then this draft's premier cover corner, Denzel Ward at No. 4. Neither measures big in size, but as playmakers they are both huge. Nevada tough guy Austin Corbett was asked to slide inside to guard at the Senior Bowl but he starred at left tackle for the Wolfpack (like Joel Bitonio) and might get a chance to stay outside in Cleveland. Regardless of his ultimate position, Corbett has the build and makeup of a longtime NFL starter, as does Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who may very well push free-agent addition Carlos Hyde aside as the Browns' featured back. A very good draft could prove great if Miami defensive end Chad Thomas and Florida receiver Antonio Callaway can focus on football. Callaway reminds me a lot of Tyreek Hill, who overcame off-field issues to emerge as one of the most dangerous all-purpose players in the NFL for the Chiefs after Dorsey selected him in the fifth round two years ago.


©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

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Browns notebook: Sixth-round pick Simeon Thomas comes to Browns with checkered past

George M. Thomas and Nate Ulrich - Akron Beacon Journal (TNS)

BEREA — The Browns used their ninth and final pick in the NFL Draft on Louisiana cornerback Simeon Thomas, selecting him in the sixth round (No. 188 overall) on Saturday.

Thomas will arrive in Cleveland with a checkered past, which includes a long list of academic suspensions and an arrest.

Earlier Saturday, the Browns drafted wide receiver Antonio Callaway in the fourth round (No. 105 overall) despite arrests and other off-field red flags in his background.

“Obviously, there are some guys that are in this group that does have some spots on them,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “But, trust me, we’ve done our due diligence in making sure that we vetted it all out, and we feel very good about these guys in our organization and there’s no question that we have the resources in place to help them through it.”

In 2013, Thomas was among five Louisiana recruits allegedly involved with a scandal in which their ACT answers were supposedly changed by a test administrator. He missed the first three games the same year for academic reasons.

Then he sat out the entire 2014 season on academic suspension. He served a nine-game NCAA suspension in 2015, apparently related to the recruiting violations from two years earlier. He didn’t play the final three games because he wanted to save a season of eligibility.

He played all 13 games in 2016, his only full season in college, and had 40 tackles, five pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

In April 2017, he was one of 13 Louisiana players arrested for stealing items from the dorm room of a former teammate who was in jail on a rape charge. The players stole $2,400 in items, including video games, shoes and clothing. Charges were later reduced to misdemeanors for Thomas and 10 other players.

Thomas, 6-foot-3 and 197 pounds, also served a two-game academic suspension last season and played in nine games, tallying 42 tackles and 12 pass breakups.

Thomas, who didn’t play in 2014 and 2015, will turn 25 on Sept. 22.

Long road for Chubb

Nick Chubb, former Georgia Bulldogs running back and second-round draft choice (No. 35 overall) of the Browns, has taken a long road back to claim a shot at an NFL career.

After suffering a knee dislocation, tearing three ligaments in the process, Chubb’s first injury playing football, during a game against Tennessee on Oct. 10, 2015, the Georgia native embarked on a significant rehab regimen in order to return.

“I had never been injured so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Just talking to [Georgia Director of Sports Medicine] Ron Courson, he kind of told me that I would be able to get back to where I was at,” said Chubb, “so I trusted his word and he got me back to where I was.”

That’s not to say that the process was easy. In fact, the opposite proved true.

“Definitely a lot went into it, definitely a lot of tough times. This was hard,” Chubb said. “Just the rehab was the toughest thing that I have been through just from a standpoint of trying to get my knee back to where it was at, trying to bend it and trying to walk again, having to actually run and cut up again.”

He returned the following season in less than a calendar year, but admitted that he didn’t quite feel right, despite rushing for 1,130 yards and averaging five yards per carry.

“I just did not feel like myself. I was able to move around a little bit and just run, but I just felt like it was not right, even though I was back,” he said.

Courson kept pushing him and motivating him to the point where Chubb made NFL scouts take notice during last year’s college football season.

The proof of his success came in his numbers from his final season with the Bulldogs, one in which they remained in the chase for a national championship, beating fellow Browns draft pick Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma Sooners in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Chubb rushed for 1,345 yards on 223 attempts, averaging 6 yards per carry, and scored 15 touchdowns. That kind of production in offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s offense would be nice for the Browns, but there will be competition.

What will be interesting to see is how the Browns are able to satisfy three running backs. They signed Carlos Hyde during the offseason. Duke Johnson remains and now they add Chubb.

“It’ll work itself out. I know now when you look at us from an offensive standpoint, you wonder where all these balls are going to go,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “A year ago, that wasn’t a problem. I think that’s a good problem to have. … All it does is raise the level in the room and raise the level on the field. Guys are going to have to compete to earn the right to get the ball in their hands.”

Jackson already sees the potential in Chubb.

“I see an AFC North back is what I see. I see a guy that’s very tough. He can create runs. He had a really good career at Georgia, the No. 2 rusher in all the SEC. We’re going to run the football, and if you plan on running, you have to have good backs. [Along] with Carlos and Duke, we feel we have guys that can do that.”

Different beat

With more and more athletes pursuing careers that complement their sports careers, defensive end Chad Thomas, the Browns’ third-round draft choice (No. 67 overall), is less of an anomaly in today’s NFL.

Thomas helped lead the resurgence of the University of Miami football program last year while creating beats and producing hit records in the world of hip-hop, music that’s being increasingly more identified with athletics.

“I have been doing music since probably the age of 3 and probably before that, but really understanding it then and I just kept it going,” Thomas said during his post-selection conference call. “As I got older, I got away [from it] because I was doing football and could not do both.”

Crazy might be an apropos descriptor. Known by the moniker Major Nine, Thomas has hooked up with hip-hop luminary Rick Ross, a Miami-based multiplatinum-selling rapper and record label founder, as a producer on the song Apple of My Eye, the first track on Ross’ Rather You Than Me album from last year.

For the 6-foot-5, 281-pound defensive end, it’s part of a skillset that opens myriad opportunities. He maintains that music is a hobby.

“It is another gift from God. I just took it to the next level,” he said. “Then with football, it was never a distraction. The hobby it is and the hobby is over. You can’t spend [time on] football 24/7. On my off night, I’m doing this, and I guess it blew up there.”

Questions arose during the draft process about whether he has more interest in playing football or making music. For Thomas, it’s not an either-or proposition.

“Being good at two things, I feel like you can be good at two things. Some people feel like it is a bad thing, but I don’t really listen to what other people say,” he said.

Music is something he uses to elevate his game.

“I think my music is another way for me to learn about when I’m on the field just running in my head,” he said. “I feel a rhythm and my beat, and I move, and I am going fast. That’s just me. Anything I have been with in life, it has to have music in it. That is why I like hitting people.”

Power man

Genard Avery will bring a little power to the Browns linebacker corps.

The 6-foot-4, 248-pound Avery, taken in the fifth round with the 150th overall selection, won a high school state powerlifting championship in his home state of Mississippi. It was a sport that drew his interest after a cousin, also a state champion, succeeded in it. That brought out Avery’s competitive nature.

“I wanted to beat all of his numbers and whatnot. I started in ninth grade,” Avery said during a conference call Saturday. “By my junior/senior season, I ended up breaking records and my own records my senior year. It was great. I ended up doing stuff outside of football to make me better in football.”

Jackson said Avery will work at middle linebacker but has the versatility to play inside or out.

“Obviously, he is going to be a real core special teams guy,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of different things he can do. This guy, he knows how to go sack the quarterback and make plays on the ball so we are excited about him.”

Filling the O-line

The drafting of Austin Corbett, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound guard out of Nevada with the first pick of the second round (No. 33 overall), could be the start of some intrigue on the offensive line.

With the retirement of bedrock left tackle Joe Thomas, the position’s future isn’t guaranteed. It’s assumed Shon Coleman, who played there in college, will get a shot at the job. Corbett’s versatility opens other possibilities.

“He can play tackle. He can play guard. We are going to give him a chance to do both and see where he fits. He is a really good football player,” Jackson said. “If we have to do some shuffling along the line, when it is all said and done, we are going to put our best five guys out there.”

In general, Jackson said he’d like to have five guys on the offensive line who can play every position. He also opened the door to fifth-year lineman Joel Bitonio, another product of Nevada, moving to left tackle.

Bitonio, 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, played the position in college.

“You may see anything,” Jackson said. “When it is all said and done, my job is to make sure that we have the best group of guys out there. If it means that, then we will do that, too.”

Buckeyes drafted

Denzel Ward, cornerback (first round, No. 4 overall, Browns); center Billy Price (first round, No. 21 overall, Cincinnati Bengals); defensive end Tyquan Lewis (second round, No. 64 overall, Indianapolis Colts); linebacker Jerome Baker (third round, No. 73 overall, Miami Dolphins); defensive end Sam Hubbard (third round, No. 77 overall, Bengals); defensive end Jalyn Holmes (fourth round, No. 102 overall, Minnesota Vikings) and offensive tackle Jamarco Jones (fifth round, No. 168 overall, Seattle Sea­hawks).

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected] Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.


©2018 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

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