Here are five wild guesses about one of the wildest events in sports:
1. Browns General Manager Ray Farmer made five trades in last year’s draft, including three in the first round, but he’ll stand pat at No. 12 overall Thursday night after finding the price for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is too rich for his taste. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper has repeatedly been mentioned in the media as another potential trade-up target of the Browns, but I don’t foresee it.
2. Without a move for Mariota, the Browns will use their first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 19 overall) to address two of the following needs: nose tackle, wide receiver and pass-rushing outside linebacker. At nose tackle, Washington’s Danny Shelton is a prime candidate. Louisville’s DeVante Parker and Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman are among the receivers who have gotten strong interest from the Browns and should be available. There are several first-round-worthy edge rushers, but Alvin “Bud” Dupree has a connection to Cleveland. He was recruited to Kentucky by new Browns wide receivers coach Joker Phillips.
3. If the Browns don’t land Mariota, they’ll pick a quarterback from the draft’s second tier somewhere in rounds two through four. UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Baylor’s Bryce Petty, Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson and Oregon State’s Sean Mannion are names to watch.
4. The Browns won’t pick an offensive lineman in the first round despite countless draft gurus predicting it. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next year, and two-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack can opt out of his five-year, $42 million after the upcoming season. So they definitely need to build depth, but quality developmental players should be available beyond the opening round.
5. The Browns won’t select a running back in the first round, either, even though Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon paid pre-draft visits to Berea. There has been some talk about the Browns taking Gurley at No. 12, but he’s coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in November and represents too much of a risk with promising second-year backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell already on the roster.