Time and time again, it hasn’t mattered who the Browns have drafted.
Baker Mayfield was the top pick of 2018, but all the promise he showed as a rookie disintegrated in a disappointing 2019. Myles Garrett has All-Pro potential, but his most noteworthy achievement in the NFL to date was bonking Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet. The less said about first-rounders like Corey Coleman, Trent Richardson, Barkevious Mingo, Justin Gilbert, and, sigh, Johnny Manziel, the better.
But 2020 has several players tailor-made to the Cleveland Browns’ specification. And by that, I mean their last names are either Cleveland or Brown.
That’s right, my modest proposal for the NFL’s most snakebitten franchise is to build the most Browns roster possible by only selecting players whose names line up with the team’s. There are 11 prospects eligible for this year’s draft named “Brown” or “Cleveland.” They range from projected top-10 picks (Auburn’s Derrick Brown) to a handful of warm training camp bodies.
Cleveland currently has seven picks in this year’s draft — though it may have to swing some trades to truly maximize its “Cleveland” “Brown” potential. But, knowing what we know about the team’s draft history, a few dumb, named-based moves probably wouldn’t alter the franchise’s trajectory inexorably.
Let’s get stupid:
Round 1, pick 10: The Cleveland Browns select Derrick Brown, defensive tackle from Auburn University
Cleveland gets an elite talent to join Larry Ogunjobi in the middle of its defensive line. Brown is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year; a 326-pound wrecking ball who can barrel through double-teams and ruin quarterbacks when Garrett and Olivier Vernon force them to step up in the pocket.
Round 2, pick 41: The Cleveland Browns select Ezra Cleveland, offensive tackle from Boise State University
So far, so good! The Browns would fill a major need by selecting Cleveland, who could make an appearance late on Day 1 or slide into the second round. The Browns made an important move this offseason to lure Jack Conklin north, but still badly need another edge protector in order to make Mayfield an upper-level quarterback again.
Round 3, pick 74: The Cleveland Browns select Cam Brown, linebacker from Penn State University
Annnnd here come the stretches! Brown is a fine Day 3 talent who could have a prosperous NFL career. He’s an aggressive, long-limbed tackler capable of blowing up plays. He was good, but not spectacular as a Nittany Lion, so he’d need to show out to justify Cleveland’s Day 2 choice.
Round 3, pick 97 (via Houston): The Cleveland Browns select Tyrie Cleveland, wide receiver from the University of Florida
Cleveland looked like a potential All-SEC deep threat after averaging 19.7 yards per catch his first two years with the Gators. He never developed into a consistent presence in Gainesville, but he’s fast and athletic enough to play a significant role on special teams while honing his receiving skills. Even though that’s not exactly a priority for the Browns right now, their options are limited when you narrow down this year’s draftees to guys named “Cleveland” or “Brown.”
Round 4, pick 115: The Cleveland Browns select Tony Brown, wide receiver from the University of Colorado
We likely reached the bottom of the well when it comes to the aptly named Browns talent that will be selected at the actual 2020 NFL Draft — and it only took only three rounds of our stupid mock. Brown, if nothing else, has something in common with Mayfield: they both transferred away from Texas Tech. He had 707 receiving yards and six total touchdowns for the Buffaloes last fall.
Round 6, pick 187 (via Arizona): The Cleveland Browns select Josh Brown, offensive tackle from the College of Idaho
Brown was a NAIA star as both a football player and a track and field star, earning back-to-back Cascade Conference titles in the discus throw. He’s a 6’7, 305-pound project who started at both right and left tackle in his college career so, sure, why not.
Round 7, pick 244 (via Green Bay): The Cleveland Browns select Jake Brown, offensive guard from the University of Central Florida
Jake is more accomplished than most of the Browns on this list. He earned first-team All-AAC honors in 2018 as part of a 12-1 Knights team that made it to the Fiesta Bowl and repeated the feat the following season. But he had to be coaxed into returning for the 2019 season, and it looks like the NFL isn’t in his plans.
If it is, he’d fit in very well for this one specific and futile exercise.
Undrafted free agents
Dre Brown, RB, Illinois
Levi Brown, C, Marshall
Mekhi Brown, DE, Tennessee State
Daniel Brown, CB, Nevada
What did we learn?
That there are a lot of draft prospects named either “Cleveland” or “Brown” this spring. Drafting them probably won’t leave the actual NFL Browns much worse off than their typical draft haul over the past decade.