Draft Sleepers: Offense

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Updated: April 25, 2015
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The NFL draft is only a few days away and most of us are anxiously awaiting new mock drafts from the likes of Kiper, McShay, Jeremiah, Mayock, Rang, Brugler and Matt Miller to name a few. The average NFL draft junky is consumed by the first round. As the draft draws closer, the second round becomes more in focus to mainstream fans. However; there are seven total rounds in the draft spread out over three days. Rounds three through seven will produce 75% of all drafted players this year. Not all of those guys will make their clubs but the vast majority will. A few of them will make the pro bowl, some will become every day starters, many will become useful reserves or special team players but many more will be inconsequential. Who will be the cream of this crop?Last year, GM Ray Farmer had a more than respectable draft after the first round when he landed Joel Bitonio in the second, Christian Kirksey and Terrance West in the third and Pierre Desir in the forth. All of them with the exception of Desir, who flashed well at the end of the season, were major contributors the entire year. Add in undrafted free agents like Isaiah Crowell, K’Waun Williams and Taylor Gabriel and it’s easy to see Farmer was on his game for day two and three. It is unrealistic to expect any team to walk out of the draft and have so many late round / UDFA successes every year, but there are diamonds in the rough. You just need to know where to look. Here is a two part look at who some of the draft sleepers may be. Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball and give the defense its due with its own article.

Offense:

Quarterbacks

The QB class is relatively weak this season. It’s hard to find a sleeper because the top guys are talked about so much while the rest just don’t have much to offer. I’m not going to talk about Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley or Garrett Grayson as they are batted around enough. One guy I think has some potential is Sean Mannion. The Oregon State QB checks a lot of boxes when you look at college QBs. He’s 6’5 and 230 pounds. He was a four year starter in a power five conference. He ran a pro style offense and was asked to read defenses and make audibles at the line of scrimmage. What he lacks is elite arm talent, little to no scramble ability, questionable decision making and inconsistent production. It depends on how the Browns view the QB role if they would have any interest in Mannion. Do they want a pocket passer who can make the right reads and advance the ball down the field in a methodical fashion? Or do they prefer to complement Johnny Manziel with QBs who can beat you with his arm while using his legs as a weapon as well? Another developmental project is Brandon Bridge from South Alabama. He’s a big boy with a strong arm but he played at a small school and didn’t play all that much. He has a lot of nice tools to work with but he’s a long term project.

Running Backs

The Browns enter 2015 with the baby backs, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell returning for their second season. They also are high on Glenn Winston so I’m not sure the Browns will feel the need to address this position early or at all in the draft. However; if they do there are a number of nice options including Javorius Allen from USC. Allen is a bigger back but one that makes decisive moves up the field and is hard to bring down. Projected to be anywhere between a third and a fifth rounder, Allen can chew up yards on the ground while also adding adequate pass catching and pass blocking making him a three down back.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

The Browns need pass catchers. I fully expect them to use a first or second round pick on a wide receiver this year. The current receiving core is loaded with a mixture of small fast guys and aging veterans of average positional height. In addition to a true number one, the team needs some guys who can go up and get contested balls for first downs or better yet red zone TDs. Dezmin Lewis, Central Arkansas, Devante Davis, UNLV and DeAndre Smelter, Georgia Tech are all 6’2-6’3 receivers with large hands, good catch radius and the ability to win on 50/50 balls.

The tight end crop is just poor this year and no one really stands out. Jeff Heuerman is an intriguing prospect but I expect to hear his name called earlier rather than later in the draft, somewhere in the late second to early third round range.

Offensive Line

Much has been made of Mitchell Schwartz’ play at RT over the course three years and many fans are clamoring for a change. The draft experts are putting RT as a high need and mocking the elite players to the Browns in the first round. In my opinion, you take a RT in the first round if that player eventually transitions to LT when Joe Thomas starts to go south. Unfortunately, in this draft there simply aren’t many LTs to be had as most all are best suited for careers at RTs or interior line. If you want a RT, the best way in this draft is to take one lower and develop. Daryl Williams, Oklahoma and Chaz Green are RT prospects to explore later in the draft. The value of this draft is to take some of the Offensive Line talent and kick them inside to guard and center. Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin is a RT who could look good for us at RG while small school Ali Marpet, Hobart can play RG or C. I also like Tre Jackson, Florida State and Laken Tomlinson, Duke as guys who can come in and play RG right away

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