Anyone familiar with the Cleveland Browns knows they haven’t enjoyed the best draft-day luck over the past…couple of decades.
Think about all of their draft picks during their incredibly long playoff drought. Who’s the best one? Braylon Edwards in 2005? Trent Richardson in 2012? Myles Garrett in 2017? Baker Mayfield in 2018? Another one?
Richardson has a case for the greatest what-if prospect in Browns history. He looked like he was on the fast track to stardom before injuries messed with his career. Then again, he cannot be much of a what if for the Browns when they sold high on him in 2013, trading him to the Indianapolis Colts.
Mayfield may honestly have the case for their most talented draft pick over the past 15 to 20 years, which isn’t really saying much. He’s still young, with time to come into his own. But after a promising rookie campaign, the Browns surrounded him with more offensive firepower, namely wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and the offense was still kind of blah.
Entering the 2020 NFL draft, the Browns will have yet another opportunity to improve upon their decision-making record. They have the 10th overall pick, which is probably their best bet at landing another stud.
Most expect them to go after someone who can help protect Mayfield. That’s a smart play. The Browns’ offensive line ranked middle of the road in sacks allowed and QB hits during the 2019 season, but that has more to do with Mayfield’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly, and more importantly, the volume with which they saddled their running backs.
Without a clear cut cornerstone up front, they need to target another one. Offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs out of Iowa is considered their main target. He’s received cursory mention as someone who could go off the board in the top three, but many of the teams in front of the Browns have more pressing needs to address.
If he’s there, Cleveland needs to pounce. Offensive tackles are seldom touted as superstars, but they’re incredibly important to maximizing quarterback protection and rushing potential. Wirfs has the physical tools to play either right or left tackle, and many believe he can become an All-Pro at guard.
It seems counterintuitive to say Wirfs could be the Browns’ best draft pick in a while, particularly when Mayfield still has upside. And yet, given how high on him the NFL in general appears to be, and given how important it is for the Browns to protect their playmakers, scooping him up at No. 10 could become one of the biggest steals in franchise history.