Here we go again, Browns fans. Last year I went through all 11 of Cleveland's 2017 draft picks and mocked a perfect, ideal, A-plus draft. And I had a few hits in there that surely would have given the Browns one win last season, right?
The front office ended up dealing a few picks -- and got extra 2018 first- and second-round picks from the Texans in the Deshaun Watson and Brock Osweiler deals -- but if it had followed my mock, Cleveland would now have a replacement for Joe Thomas at left tackle in Dion Dawkins, who will start for the Bills in 2018, and one of the 2017 season's breakout players in running back Kareem Hunt.
So let's run through the same exercise for the 2018 draft. Cleveland has only nine picks this time around thanks to a few other trades, but five are in the first two rounds. That's five picks that should be starter-level players. And the Browns have two of the first four picks of the draft to get Pro Bowl-type talent.
A few important notes before we get to it, same as last year:
These are the Browns' picks right now. I'm not making any trades here.
All of the prospect projections are based on where I have them ranked and where they realistically could go. I'm not giving the Browns nine first-round-type picks.
I'm not giving Cleveland nine starters. Again, this is realistic. On Day 3, teams are just looking for guys who can contribute and make the team.
Here we go. I think you know who I'm going with to begin the draft.
Round 1, pick No. 1
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
I'm not wavering here. Allen has been my guy to Cleveland at No. 1 overall since my Mock Draft 1.0 in January. As I wrote then, the NFL is all about projection, and the 6-foot-5 Allen has a high ceiling. He has a rocket arm. He has freakish talent. He has done everything he has needed to do during the pre-draft process -- from the Senior Bowl, to the combine, to interviews with teams -- to be the first pick in this draft.
Now, Browns fans, I know his college stats give you pause. But NFL teams love him. They love his tools, even if he's raw. And with Tyrod Taylor in the mix for 2018, Allen doesn't have to play immediately. He will need some time to adjust to the NFL, and he will need to be coached up. This could be your franchise quarterback, Cleveland.