During previous discussions of the 2016 NFL draft, we were adamant that the Tennessee Titans should trade the No. 1 overall pick. Low and behold, despite not even consulting us on the matter, new general manager Jon Robinson and the rest of the Titans organization clearly felt the same way, trading the top spot in this year’s draft to the Los Angeles Rams for what was essentially a “king’s ransom.” And while this was, ultimately, the best move, it didn’t come without its consequences.
In terms of the fallout from the trade between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tennessee Titans, it’s safe to say that no team was more affected than the Cleveland Browns, who are the current holders of the No. 2 overall pick. Now, with less than two weeks before the draft, it’s anyone’s guess as to what they’ll do with their selection. Of course, that won’t stop us from making a prediction. With that in mind, here’s a look at three potential targets for the Cleveland Browns with the No. 2 pick.
The Browns organization was wise to sign former No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III this offseason. However, there’s no guarantee that the former Offensive Rookie of the Year will ever return to form. Therefore, smart money suggests that the Browns should use this pick to draft their quarterback of the future. And while that may end up happening, it’s no longer as simple as it once was.
Before the Rams jumped to the top of the draft board, Cleveland was in a position to take the quarterback of their choice. Now that Los Angeles controls the No. 1 overall pick, that’s no longer the case. Despite conflicting reports over who the Rams prefer, the fact of the matter is that one of the draft’s top-two QBs — Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz — will be off the board prior to Cleveland’s pick.
If the Browns have similar ratings for both of these gunslingers, then the choice could be fairly simple: Pick the remaining quarterback. However, if the Rams end up selecting the guy Cleveland wanted all along, the Browns may be forced to turn their attention elsewhere.
2. Jalen Ramsey
If the Browns opt to pass on a quarterback at No. 2, there are plenty of directions they could go with the pick. Yet, for us, the choice would be a no-brainer: Jalen Ramsey.
At 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, the former Florida State defensive back is a freak of nature. He’s long, fast, instinctive, and has incredible range. Simply put, Ramsey is a disruptive game-changer with the ability to transform Cleveland’s secondary.
In a league that favors the passing game, the Browns should seriously consider selecting the draft’s best overall defensive back. And for the record, we know for a fact that Cleveland’s Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden would be in favor of this pick. Just saying.
3. Trade down
The Cleveland Browns may not have their choice of quarterbacks anymore, but what they do have is the most valuable pick in the entire draft. And more importantly, they know it. Which is why, according to NFL Network’s Jeff Darlington (via NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport), the Browns are “actively shopping” the No. 2 overall pick.
Coming from a Major League Baseball background, Cleveland’s new Chief Strategy Office, Paul DePodesta knows all about the importance of collecting assets. [Correction, 4/20/16: An earlier version named Sashi Brown as the Browns executive with an MLB background. However, DePodesta is the new executive with strong ties to the MLB.] And in the NFL, there’s no better way to do that than by acquiring more draft picks; thus, ultimately, giving an organization more opportunities to strike gold in the process. We knew the Browns were about to get all “Moneyball” on us. The 2016 draft seems like a good place to start.