Cleveland took nine players on day 3, acquired a veteran corner from the Dolphins, and made still more trades to add picks for next season. I’ll focus on the picks; feel free to take a look at the NFL Trade Tracker for those interested in the trades.
The first player chosen was LB Joe Schobert. Most players at the lower levels of the draft have some glaring weakness or need time to develop. For Schobert, he’s a small linebacker (6′ 1″, 244). He’s good in coverage and can generate a pass rush, but only from up the middle, where he might go unblocked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become an MLB on the NFL level.
Next was WR Ricardo Lewis. Lewis is big and athletic, but his hands are suspect. He might be a good NFL corner if Cleveland can’t improve his pass catching.
The next choice was Cleveland’s first DB (which I identified as a position of need here), safety Derrick Kindred. He’s a little undersized for a safety (5’9″) but has good technique. He has some issues with deep coverage but can handle himself in shorter coverage scenarios.
Rounding out the fourth round was was TE Seth DeValve. DeValve was a wideout in college and knows how to run routes, but his pure size makes him an ideal tight end. He could be a real steal, and he’s plenty smart as a Princeton grad. He might not be a great blocker, but there’s a lot to like about him.
The first pick of Cleveland’s fifth round was WR Jordan Payton. He’s a pure possession type without much speed. He’s 6’1″, so he’ll get over most DBs, but his release isn’t so great.
Next came OG Spencer Drago. He’s a beast of a guard but has some technique issues. He struggles when pulling and doesn’t have experience with anything other than simple blocking schemes. Cleveland needs depth, and Drago should be exactly that, if not something more down the line.
Cleveland had back-to-back picks at the end of the fifth and took WR Rashard Higgins and CB Trey Caldwell. Higgins is a terrific route runner, the best in the entire class according to Todd McShay. He lacks elite speed or a great release, but he’s ready to play right away and contribute. Caldwell is small but has good coverage skills; the instant analysis is that he’ll be a special teams contributor with the potential to be more if he develops.
Our final pick was in the seventh round: LB Scooby Wright. Apart from the wonderful name, Wright is a tough, savvy linebacker who lacks elite athleticism.
My overall assessment of the draft is good but cautious. Cleveland filled some major holes in the front seven and got plenty of wideouts to try out in camp. The two linemen are going to be good replacements for Erving (who moves to center) and Schwartz at RT, although Drago might sit for a year. The only concern I have is that defensive back was barely addressed, but it was a serious position of need. Acquiring Jamar Taylor from Miami for a seventh rounder was a nice score, but the defensive backs drafted are underwhelming. Perhaps this regime hopes for more production out of Gilbert. Time will tell.