Parting thoughts from the 2019 NFL Combine

Deep defensive class leaves Browns with plenty of options

Daryl Ruiter
March 04, 2019 - 12:19 pm

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Here are some parting thoughts as the 2019 NFL Combine comes to a close in Indianapolis.

One of the greatest myths of the Combine among fans is players moving up and down draft boards based on on-field workouts. While they serve as content for networks and media, the reality for teams is that they simply confirm what they already evaluated or force teams to go back at their own work and take a second look at the tape.

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is two and a half inches shorter than Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is, but is in demand. At the 2018 Combine, Mayfield measured 6-foot and 5/8. Murray came in at 5-foot-10 and 1/8 last week.

The Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders don’t seem the least bit concerned with Murray’s height, especially with his hands measuring a quarter inch larger than Mayfield’s did a year ago. With Kliff Kingsbury at the helm, the Cardinals continue to be tied to Murray at No. 1 meaning Josh Rosen, taken 10th overall last year, would go on the trading block and their team-building takes a tremendous step backward. Don’t be shocked if the Raiders, who are currently at No 4, try to move up. Oakland, AKA the Las Vegas-to-be Raiders, has three first round picks – Nos 4, 24 and 27 – in April. While head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock talked up quarterback Derek Carr in Indianapolis, everything that is said serves a purpose.

D.K. Metcalf is exactly what Browns general manager John Dorsey covets in a receiver. “I’d like to have a 6-3 guy that can run 4.3,” Dorsey said last week. The Ole Miss wideout, who measured in at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, ripped off a 4.33 in the 40, jumped out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 40 ½ vertical, his broad jump came in at 11-feet-2 inches and he pumped out 27 reps of 225. He won’t be there at 17.

For as impressive as Metcalf is, the Browns aren’t likely trade up for him because in the team-building model Dorsey has laid out, investing in the defensive front is a much more critical priority than adding the top receiver in the draft. Baker Mayfield’s talent and ability to spread the ball around gives Dorsey the luxury of adding another set of hands for Mayfield to target later in the draft.

Ohio State and Akron St. Vincent St. Mary product Parris Campbell had an outstanding Combine. He bested the Combine times of Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown with a 4.31 40. During receiver drills Campbell effortlessly ran the route tree and caught a variety of throws potentially answering some questions scouts, executives and coaches might have had about him. If he follows it up in Columbus at the Buckeyes’ pro day, he may be the second receiver to go off the board.

Campbell’s time got shattered – twice – on Monday for the fastest at the Combine. Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean clocked a 4.30 before Ole Miss defensive back Zedrick Woods was timed a 4.29.

Dorsey gave us two hints last week what he is looking for in the draft. “I love speed,” Dorsey said. “The more team speed you have, the better.” As for the defensive line, which is going to be a primary target, “I’m sure we’ll begin to see longer guys there,” Dorsey said. “[Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks] is going to play some concepts within his 4-3 scheme that allows his defensive linemen to make plays.”

Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Montez Sweat showed this weekend why they clearly are the best of the class, however, they will not be Browns, unless Dorsey shocks the world and makes a blockbuster deal up the board to go get one of them. Such is life when you rejoin the rest of the league and become competitive, you no longer have control of the draft and must see who will fall to you. Dorsey will definitely be rooting for an early run on quarterbacks and offensive players to push those top defensive players down the board to him.

While this year’s linebacker class is thin, do not rule out Dorsey grabbing one in the first round because, like defensive tackle, it is a glaring need. LSU’s Devin White and Kentucky’s Josh Allen are regarded as the top two of the class and they probably won’t make it to 17, but Michigan’s Devin Bush could, and he had a solid weekend. Bush tied for the second-fastest 40 time among linebackers with a 4.43. Bush’s 40 ½ vertical ranked No. 1 and his 10-4 broad jump was third-best among linebackers.

Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones got one of the biggest endorsements over the weekend when Bosa said that the Saint Ignatius High School product was the “best pass rusher, interior in the draft…You just don’t see interior guys with the hips and hands that he has.” Jones, who tallied 13 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks last season for the Buckeyes, measured 6-foot-2 and 6/8 and weighed in at 281 pounds. Keep an eye on Jones if he slides to the middle of the first round.

It might seem unlikely that Dorsey would grab a corner in the first round, but LSU’s Greedy Williams would be a nice compliment to Denzel Ward on the back end of the defense. After running a 4.37 in the 40 Monday morning, Williams was forced to shut it down for the rest of the day due to cramping in his calves the NFL Network reported. Williams chose not to bench in Indianapolis Sunday and will likely do that at his pro day. Williams had 33 tackles last year at LSU with two interceptions and nine pass breakups.

As we noted in a story last week, Dorsey does not believe the Browns are simply one big name player away from being a Super Bowl contender. “One guy doesn’t make a team. The last time I looked, 53 makes a team,” Dorsey said. Do not look for a singular all-in move this offseason, especially in April’s draft.

The Browns have 10 picks in the upcoming draft – Nos. 17, 49, 80, 95 (via Patriots), 119, 144 (via Jaguars), 155, 170 (via Patriots), 189 and 221 (via Jaguars) – and they don’t need all of them. Look for Dorsey to combine picks to move up, roll them into future picks or even slide down the board and acquire more assets to pay with.