The Browns made a splash on the first day of the NFL Draft by trading up to make sure they secured the services of running back Trent Richardson and then nailing down 28-year old quarterback Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick.
From there, the Browns addressed both needs and depth. They found a presumptive starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz from California with the 37th overall pick. In the third round, they picked Cincinnati defensive tackle John Hughes to end the second day of the draft after trading down twenty spots.
The Browns’ top three picks are all projected to become starters this season.
“I think that we have added three players that are going to come in and we expect them to come in and compete, to start and contribute what we hope to be immediately,” Browns’ head coach Pat Shurmur said. “We will see how it plays out, but we’ve got a running back, a quarterback and a right tackle.
“I think with some of the changes that were made up front this year, we felt like we needed to address the right tackle situation,” he said. “It’s easy to say you are going to plug him in and play him, but he’s got to go over there and learn to play right tackle in this league. We think he can do it. We all know what Trent Richardson brings to the table as a runner and we’re really impressed with what we saw with Brandon Weeden. We feel like we got three players that are going to be there for us.”
The Browns finally addressed the wide receiver position with their first pick in the fourth round as they took speed merchant Travis Benjamin from Miami (Florida). Middle linebacker James-Michael Johnson was the choice with the second fourth-round choice acquired in the trade with the Broncos that dropped the Browns from 67 to 87.
“Benjamin is an extremely fast guy who we feel his best football is in front of him,” Shurmur said. “There are reasons why we feel good about the receivers we have here. As we went through the draft we felt good about drafting Travis Benjamin and think he can be an explosive guy.”
Quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple previously coached Benjamin and thinks he can come in and contribute.
“We think he has a lot of untapped ability,” Shurmur said. “We’re going to put him out there in the mix.”
Shurmur likes what Johnson can do.
“He’s a linebacker that has flexibility and can play both outside spots and we feel good about him joining us.”
The Browns added another offensive lineman to the mix in the fifth round with the addition of 6-8 Ryan Miller from Colorado. He is expected to compete for a spot at tackle and guard.
“He has a tackle’s body, but he can play guard,” Shurmur said. “He is big and physical and we feel he has flexibility to play inside and outside.”
In the sixth round, the Browns went defensively with Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho and Boise State defensive tackle Billy Winn.
“Acho’s a terrific kid,” Shurmur said. “I had him on the phone and I felt like he was going to jump on a plane and get here.”
“With Winn, we had a high grade on him,” Shurmur said. “Some teams might have had medical concerns, but we felt good about him.”
Shurmur said that after the draft concludes, he expects the Browns to sign “roughly 15 undrafted free agents.”