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Mailbag: What would constitute a great draft? Josh Gordon’s contract? The AJ McCarron effect? Much more

Q: Would you consider drafting Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Sony Michel a great draft?

— Will Cal

A: Only if Kirk Cousins is signed in free agency. With any other veteran quarterback, I just don’t think the Browns can afford to pass on a quarterback in the top five again.

Having said that, if general manager John Dorsey doesn’t believe any of the quarterbacks are worth the No. 1 pick — he has indicated the opposite — he shouldn’t force the pick. And if that’s the case, I’m good with Chubb, Fitzpatrick and Michel.

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Assuming the Browns take a quarterback at No. 1, they should be happy with Fitzpatrick at No. 4 and Michel in the second round.

Q: Can we clear up the reports on Josh Gordon’s contract situation?

— Toledo Tom

A: Gordon made it clear when he returned from his latest suspension that he would be under the Browns’ control in 2018, and reports last week drove home the point.

Players need six games in a season for it to count toward free agency, so he didn’t get credit for 2014 or 2017, leaving him an exclusive rights free agent for 2018. He must play for the Browns or no one.

He won’t hit unrestricted free agency until after the 2019 season. He’ll be restricted after 2018, so the Browns can keep him if they desire.

Q: As a lifelong Browns fan I was wondering what the chances of us picking up Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant? With the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster, he should be available?

— Terrell Eubanks

A: The Browns must consider every option to improve the receiving corps, and the talented Bryant should be among them. He’s under contract with the Steelers for 2018 but didn’t seem happy as his role diminished at times last season.

But the Browns would have to get comfortable with Bryant off the field, as he’s missed time on suspension. I’m not sure they’d want to take on that risk, especially after what they’ve gone through with Josh Gordon.

Q: If AJ McCarron does sign with the Browns, is there any chance that the Browns don’t draft a QB at No. 1 or No. 4?

— Justin Nalley

A: A slim one. McCarron hasn’t played enough –four starts — to prove he’ll be able to hold down the starting job long term, so the Browns will likely feel they can’t afford to pass on a possible franchise quarterback at the top of the draft.

The plan continues to be sign a veteran and draft a rookie at No. 1.

Q: I haven’t heard a peep about Paul DePodesta since Sashi Brown was replaced. What’s going on with him?

— @AA_Leil_Tweets

A: Every time GM John Dorsey has been asked about DePodesta, he’s said their early conversations were good and he’s looking forward to working with him. The role of analytics within the organization has clearly been reduced but there should still be a role for someone as smart as DePodesta. Yet it remains to be seen how he fits in the new front office.

Q: Have all the top five quarterbacks committed to the combine yet?

— @dayjeff1977

A: They will all be there, and according to NFL Network, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph plan to throw. I can’t imagine Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson not throwing if everyone else is.

Q: Name the five additions the Browns can make through free agency and the draft that will make us competitive this fall?

— @brownfan88

A: If the top goal is winning as many games as possible in 2018, signing quarterback Kirk Cousins would have the greatest impact. The other four moves would be signing Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner and Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson and drafting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

I’m not saying they’d be the best moves for the long term, but they would help the most in 2018.

Q: What positions and players will/should be free agent targets and which positions should be left for draft?

— Dustin Murphy

A: Quarterback, safety, receiver, pass rusher and tight end should be addressed in free agency. Quarterback, running back and cornerback should be early targets in the draft.

If Joe Thomas retires, free agency and the draft should be used to acquire multiple options for his replacement.

Q: The tight end room is pretty large with the signings of Gavin Escobar and Devon Cajuste to join Randall Telfer, Seth DeValve and David Njoku. Who prevails and in what roles?

— @jerron45

A: The Browns have high hopes for Njoku and DeValve, with Njoku expected to step into the role of every-down tight end. Telfer will have to fight to keep a roster spot, and I would recommend signing a quality veteran to complement youngsters Njoku and DeValve.

Q: Any idea on whom the Browns could be looking at for wide receiver with any of those second-round picks? And could they go for offensive tackle Alex Cappa of Humboldt State in the third round with Joe Thomas doing a year of coaching him up?

— @any1mark66

A: I would prefer to see the Browns sign two quality veterans at receiver. The current group is too young, and with the previous issues of Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman, some established, reliable talent is a must. That doesn’t mean they can’t draft a wideout with one of their 12 picks, but I wouldn’t force one in the second round.

As for Cappa, I’m fine taking a flyer on him. But he’s far from a sure thing to develop into a starter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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