Q: What draft pick compensation would you take for OBJ? What do you think Andrew Berry would take?
A: I’m going to start by saying I don’t think the Browns want to trade Beckham. Chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta last week followed owner Jimmy Haslam, Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski from earlier in the offseason in expressing the team’s desire to keep Beckham. DePodesta was the strongest, saying Beckham’s part of the core and the plan is to build on that core.
But I admit plenty of players are traded after public denials from organizations, and Beckham will continue to get mentioned in rumors. With that in mind, I’ll get to your questions.
I wouldn’t trade Beckham for less than a top-16 pick. I would also take two second-rounders, including one in the 30s. I think Berry might take a bit less, especially if he got the sense Beckham really didn’t want to stay in Cleveland. I don’t think any team would be willing to match the request, which is part of the reason I would keep him.
For me, the overriding thought regarding Beckham is that he should be given a healthy season with a competent coach to see if he can return to Pro Bowl form. I don’t like the idea of trading so much for him a year ago and giving up after one injury- and drama-filled season.
Q: Scott, do you think they will trade Kareem Hunt during the draft?
Looking for more? OK.
When the Browns placed the $3.259 million second-round restricted free agent tender on Hunt, it was a clear signal they wanted him back for 2020. A third-round tender may have enticed teams to consider signing Hunt to an offer sheet or trying to negotiate a deal with the Browns, but the second-round tender slammed the door. I believe the Browns want him for this season and feel there isn’t much of a trade market for a guy with his off-the-field history.
Q: How does Louisville left tackle Mekhi Becton’s failed drug test affect his draft value? Do Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas all likely get moved ahead of Becton on the Browns’ draft board, given that the Browns new regime stresses high-character players?
A: That’s a key question as we approach the first round Thursday. First of all, it was reported by NFL Network that Becton’s test was “flagged” at the combine. That could also mean a diluted sample, so I’m hesitant to call it a failed test.
Even if he did test positive, the league’s new collective bargaining agreement makes marijuana use a non-issue. So the fear of a player being suspended — Browns fans are having Josh Gordon flashbacks — is gone. That doesn’t mean Becton showed good judgment or that the Browns would ignore the incident. It just means it likely has less impact than a year ago.
I believe if the Browns’ top decision-makers are convinced of Becton’s character being solid, the report wouldn’t change their minds.
Q: Considering the roller coaster of expectations the last 3 or 4 years, what’s a reasonable definition of a successful season this year?
A: The lowest bar is improvement over last year’s 6-10, but I think the expectations should be higher. The Browns have a No. 1 draft pick at quarterback entering his third season and a roster full of talent, especially on offense. I know the coaching staff is new and will be hindered by the lack of an offseason program, and the AFC North remains rugged, but I think fans should expect at least 8-8 with playoff contention into December.
Q: If Kendall Lamm is healthy, is he a viable option to start the season at left tackle? Especially if we pass on the supposed top four tackles in the draft. Do you think the Browns would draft Houston’s Josh Jones or Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland and let them sit for a year?
A: I don’t see Lamm as an option. I know GM Andrew Berry mentioned Lamm’s experience at left tackle — along with that of Jack Conklin and Chris Hubbard — but I don’t see any of them opening the season at left tackle. Lamm’s only season as a full-time starter was in 2018 with the Texans at right tackle.
I do think Jones and Cleveland are in play after a trade down from No. 10 or a trade up from No. 41. If that were to happen, the Browns would have to decide whether to ride out the rookie struggles or try to bring in a veteran left tackle to start in 2020. I’m all in favor of paying free agent Jason Peters big money to fill that role. He’d be great for one year and mentor the rookie.
Q: We need linebackers. Clay Matthews has lost a step but has played every position in a 34 and a 43 defense. Undoubtedly a good leader. Obviously would be a fan favorite. I don’t see a downside. Your thoughts?
A: I’m OK taking a flier on Matthews but don’t think he would have much of an impact. His greatest use would be as a situational pass rusher, which doesn’t solve the team’s need for an every-down linebacker, especially one who can cover. I’d love Matthews in the locker room but would prefer drafting a linebacker in the second or third round.
Q: Do the players have the new playbooks yet?
A: If they didn’t have them last week, they will today as virtual offseason programs are allowed to begin. New coach Kevin Stefanski and his staff should be in front of their players for the first time, using remote meetings to begin explaining their offensive and defensive systems.
Q: I believe that Gary Collins belongs in the Hall of Fame. Short of that, have you heard any rumblings of the Browns recognizing his career contributions by including him in the Ring of Honor???
— Michael Cheselka
A: Clay Matthews Jr. last year was the first non-Hall of Famer inducted into the Ring of Honor, which includes Hall of Famers, the team’s championships and Joe Thomas’ consecutive-snaps streak of 10,363.
Matthews opens the door for Collins, but it will likely be awhile. Thomas should be elected into the Hall of Fame in three years and go directly into the Ring. Mac Speedie is headed into the Hall this year and could enter the Ring. And I would expect Bernie Kosar and Doug Dieken to be in line before Collins.
Q: If you were Andrew Berry, who would be your targets on Day 3?
A: Here are some guys at positions I think the Browns should consider Saturday.
At receiver: Central Florida’s Gabriel Davis, Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr., SMU’s James Proche and Oregon’s Juwan Johnson.
At defensive tackle: Baylor’s James Lynch, Ohio State’s Davon Hamilton and Arkansas’ McTelvin Agim.
At cornerback: UCLA’s Darnay Holmes, Penn State’s John Reid and Southern Illinois’ Madre Harper.
At tight end: Stanford’s Colby Parkinson and Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins.