CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - There are the obvious names, the players everyone's talking about, who fill up every mock draft. And then there are the lesser-known prospects, who make up the middle-to-late rounds but more importantly make up the bulk of your football team. They're hungrier than the top picks, with more to prove, and in many cases are driven to have long-term success in the league. As the Browns close in on Thursday and the NFL Draft, we'll tackle both.
The high-profile possibilities
RB Ezekiel Elliott
The former Buckeye is the best running back in the draft. So talented, he make not even make it to the eighth pick, if the Cowboys (fourth) or Jaguars (fifth) decide to pounce. If Zeke is still around at eight, the Browns could take him, as they look to give Robert Griffin III some immediate help. But it's just as likely that they'll trade down, possibly with Miami (13th), as the Dolphins finally find the running back they've been looking for.
QB Paxton Lynch
The Memphis quarterback is big (6-foot-6), talented, and available...at No. 8. The thing is, he'll likely be available at 15 as well, and that's where the Browns could d rop as they acquire more picks, still get a quarterback in round one, and help Tennessee get back into the top 10 after the Titans traded away the first overall pick to the Rams.
QB Connor Cook
Cook, the former Michigan State star, has been mentioned in connection with the Browns a lot lately, and the Browns, who've said there just might be another quarterback out there that they actually like more than Carson Wentz, could get him late in round two, or possibly in round three, and then let Hue Jackson develop him.
OT Laremy Tunsil, OT Ronnie Stanley
The Browns lost two starters on their offensive line to free agency. Tunsil and Stanley are the top two tackles in the draft. Tunsil's so good, there was talk of him going No. 1 overall, before the Titans traded away the pick. If he's there at eight, there's no way the Browns pass him up. If not, there's a decent chance they land Stanley, the tackle out of Notre Dame.
WR Laquon Treadwell
The Browns need a playmaking wide receiver. Actually, the Browns need a lot more than that, but they must give RG3 a big-play threat. I can't see them taking Treadwell with the eighth pick. It's more likely they address another need first in round one, then hope to get their receiver with the first pick of the second round.
Possible 2nd or 3rd day surprises
LB Joshua Perry
The former Buckeye gets lost in the conversation sometimes when sizing up all of the Ohio State draft prospects, but the linebacker played a huge role in their run to the National Title two seasons ago, and was All-Big Ten this past year. Some believe he'll be even better in the NFL, where his aggressive approach will work well in an attacking defense. Ray Horton, returning as the Browns defensive coordinator, does exactly that.
WR Moritz Boehringer
Who? Exactly. Chances are you've never heard of him, and it's highly unlikely you've ever seen him play, since he's from Germany and played in the German Football League. But he's 6-4 and can fly, running a 4.43 40-yard dash. The Vikings love him, and could take him in the middle-to-late rounds, unless Bill Belichick swoops in and grabs him first. Considering the Patriots' creative ways, would that surprise anyone? Maybe the Browns could beat 'em to the punch.
C Austin Blythe
See the above note about our decimated offensive line. The Browns not only have to replace Mitchell Schwartz, they have to replace Alex Mack, and Blythe, the center out of Iowa, will be there in the late rounds. Unless they truly believe Cam Erving will bounce back from a disappointing rookie season and take over in the middle of the line, the Browns need to address this position. Ryan Kelly, the center out of Alabama, tops the list of prospects, but if the Browns use the first few rounds to land other players, don't be stunned if Blythe ends up in Berea.
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