What Marla Ridenour would like to see the Browns do in the NFL Draft:
1. Consider Landon Collins. I know this is the longest of long shots, possible only if the Alabama safety is the best player on the Browns’ board when they pick at No. 19 or if he falls into the second round. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network doesn’t have Collins as his top safety and called Collins “more of a box safety or a dime linebacker,” which doesn’t sound like the second coming of Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu. But I thought Collins was a game-changer in Alabama’s loss to Ohio State in the national semifinals; running back Ezekiel Elliott’s 85-yard touchdown run came when Collins was injured. Admittedly, I was taken with Collins’ admiration for the late Sean Taylor when he talked about him at the NFL combine; Collins confessed he cried when Taylor died. I want players who love the game and are driven to be the best and Collins sounded like he genuinely wants to emulate Taylor. Plus, Browns strong safety Donte Whitner turns 30 in July.
2. Pick Jeff Heuerman. Every year I have favorite Buckeyes player I’d like the Browns to pick, and they’ve never selected one. But the Browns have a huge need at tight end and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. called Heuerman “a throwback” who can do it all, catch passes and block. Heuerman started the national championship game despite a sprained ankle, an injury he said a lot of doctors told him he shouldn’t have played on. He said the “assistance” he needed, presumably a shot, wore off by the end and left him in serious pain. My second choice would be defensive tackle Michael Bennett, and that’s not just because he was the best quote on the team. Wide receiver Devin Smith is also on the list, especially if the Browns have any designs on Cardale Jones in 2016. Those two have amazing chemistry.
3. Add wide receivers, plural. Presuming Collins is out of the question, if I were the GM, I’d take a pass rusher, receiver and defensive tackle with the first three selections, in no particular order. But the Browns go into the draft with 10 picks and with another deep receiver class, I’d consider grabbing two. I like rapidly rising Breshad Perriman of Central Florida, but he had too many drops for me to pick him in the first round.
4. Forget about a right tackle. There has been much angst in Northeast Ohio about the Browns’ Mitchell Schwartz. With Alex Mack able to exercise the out clause in his contract after this season, I think a center is much more important. (Where’s Eric Mangini, who made his best choices at that position with the Browns and Jets, when you need him?)
5. Wait for Marcus Mariota to fall. While I’m not convinced the Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon will be a successful NFL starter, I have no problem with the Browns landing him as long as they don’t have to trade into the top two. In fact, jumping up to No. 4 to snatch him away from the Washington Redskins at No. 5 would be satisfying revenge after the RGIII trade debacle. Of course, no one in the front office was here then.
6. A wild thought: What if the Browns trade up and it’s not for Mariota, but for Southern Cal defensive end Leonard Williams? I walked away from his combine interview saying, “That’s the guy to move up for.”