The Cleveland Browns made huge strides in 2018, finishing 7-8-1 after winning only four games over their previous three seasons combined. Despite the improvement, there are still areas that need to be addressed. The Browns were 20th in scoring at 22.4 points per game and 21st in fewest points allowed at 24.5 per game. Going heavy with defensive players, let’s analyze the Browns top five selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Round 2 (46th) Greedy Williams (CB) LSU
Williams was a redshirt freshman who got a chance in 2017 after the suspension of starter Kevin Tolliver. Williams recorded 38 tackles, lead the SEC with six interceptions and was named first-team All-SEC. Repeating as first-team all-conference in 2018, Williams was also AP second-team and recorded 33 tackles and two interceptions.
The Browns got a top notch corner who has a clear nose for the ball, as Williams eight interceptions in two seasons at LSU indicates. He isn’t known to be a great tackler in the open field, which is the only real noticeable weakness in his game. Williams will start with Denzel Ward to secure a solid cover group on the outside.
Round 3 (80th) Sione Takitaki (OLB) BYU
Takitaki made 19 tackles with three sacks as a reserve during his freshman season. He was suspended twice during the season, however and continued to have disciplinary problems his sophomore season, suspended two more times. During the six games he appeared in, Takitaki had 21 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He skipped football in 2016 after getting married and returned to football in 2017, recording 79 tackles and five sacks. He put himself on the map last season after leading the team with 118 tackles and three sacks.
There are many questions involved with this pick, primarily if Takitaki has truly gotten his off-field incidents behind him. On the field, he has shown leadership as well as good tackling skills which will help a poor rush defense. The projection is for Takitaki to be an instant help on the special teams. He could see some time as back up linebacker as well this season and more significant time in 2020.
Round 4 (119th) Sheldrick Redwine (S) Miami
Redwine played mainly on special teams as a freshman, recording 14 tackles. He saw more playing time as a sophomore, registering 28 tackles while starting five games. Playing safety for the first time in college in 2017, Redwine made 59 tackles and had two interceptions. His senior season of 64 tackles, three interceptions and three sacks earned him honorable mention in the conference.
The directions the Browns took in this draft clearly indicates the need to bolster the secondary. Redwine has very good speed and in fact ran the sixth best 40 yard dash among safeties at the combine. In addition, Redwine has shown solid tackling skills, which will help limit yards after the catch and can help in the run defense. greeting when people meet him: Poor renditions of the UB40 hit "Red Red Wine.
Round 5 (155th) overall: Mack Wilson (LB) Alabama
Wilson played mainly on special teams as a freshman, who also appeared occasionally as an H-back on offense. He made 40 tackles in 12 games as a sophomore, but showed excellence in the NCAA championship game, registering 12 tackles. In 2018, he was recognized for an outstanding season (71 tackles and two interceptions) by being named second-team All-SEC.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has the knack of producing successful linebackers and Wilson is no exception. With solid ball skills, intensity and speed, Wilson has all the tools to be a solid NFL player. The transition from college to the NFL could take Wilson a few seasons, but the Browns have made a very good pick at this stage of the draft. Wilson has a big upside compared to many others selected this late in the draft.
Round 5 (170th) Austin Seibert (K) Oklahoma
As a freshman, Seibert was second-team All-Big 12 as a punter and place kicker averaging 42 yards per punt and 18-of-23 on field goals. During his sophomore season, Seibert hit only 11-of-16 field goals but was solid again as a punter, averaging 41.1 yards per kick with 22 balls inside the 20. He was named second-team All-Big 12 in 2017 after hitting 81 percent of his field goal attempts and 42.3 yards per punt. As a senior, Seibert hit 17-of-19 on field goals and averaged 40.9 yards per punt.
Cleveland certainly needed to address their kicking woes from last season. Many times a team can find a suitable kicking from undrafted rookies, so the selection of Seibert could be considered questionable. However, he displayed accuracy at a top-notch program and conference last season. It will be interesting to see if Seibert is the answer the Browns have been looking for.