Browns must ponder Myles Jack, Noah Spence to start second round

Should they take Myles Jack? What about Noah Spence? Those are questions the Cleveland Browns had to ponder Thursday night and Friday, as the second round of the NFL draft approached.

Jack is the UCLA linebacker with exceptional ability and a questionable knee. That knee prompted Jack to fall out of the first round when some analysts had said his pure ability would make him one of the draft's top five players.

The Browns would need thorough medical research to take him, but if healthy, Jack is considered a special player. In 2013, he was the offensive and defensive freshman of the year in the Pac-12 -- a rare double honor.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Seattle Seahawks found bigger issues than a torn meniscus that ended his final season at UCLA. The concern is that Jack's knee could eventually require microfracture surgery, a procedure that has ended careers. There is some thinking that he could play for five to seven years, and if he's at his best, those would be good seasons. But if his knee limits him and he plays only a season or three, Jack might not be worth the risk with the first pick in the second round.

The talent is unquestioned. One coach called him "a freak" when healthy. Whoever drafts him has to do so not knowing with certainty if he'll be healthy.

Spence is a standout pass-rushing talent at defensive end. But in 2014, he was dismissed from Ohio State and banned from the Big Ten for positive tests for ecstasy. Spence went through treatment and transferred to Eastern Kentucky, where he had 22.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks.

In an attempt to show he is clean, Spence sent every NFL team 20 drug test results from May 2015 through the week before the draft, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. He passed every one of them.

The Browns have picks Nos. 65, 76 and 77 in the third round, which might make it easier for them to take a chance in the second round. It's tough to see Jack's free-fall continuing to where the Browns are picking in the third round, and it's tougher to see Spence lasting too much into the second round.

Another option for the Browns to start the second round is quarterback Connor Cook of Michigan State. There have been knocks on Cook's leadership and skills as a teammate, but he won 34 games as a three-year starter for the Spartans. ESPN's Jon Gruden said he believes Cook will grow into the best quarterback in this draft.

One more option? Another trade. Browns coach Hue Jackson said he knows the 32nd pick is extremely valuable, and he expected the phone to be ringing Thursday night and Friday with teams looking to move into that spot.

Other options for the 32nd pick:

  • WR Michael Thomas of Ohio State, if the Browns want to take receivers with their first two picks of this draft

  • ILB Reggie Ragland of Alabama, the best linebacker remaining, by far, and an excellent run-stopping inside player

  • CB Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, who is coming off knee surgery with injury concerns but also has excellent nickel coverage ability

  • DT A'Shawn Robinson of Alabama, a run-stopper who could fit at nose tackle in a 3-4

  • DT Jarran Reed of Alabama, the best run-stopper in the draft, who could play nose tackle in a 3-4

  • DE Kevin Dodd of Clemson, who had 23.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks in 2015

  • DE Kamalei Correa of Boise State, whose main strength is speed to rush the passer and play across the field

  • RB Derrick Henry of Alabama, this draft's second-best running back, behind Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott

  • TE Hunter Henry of Arkansas, the best tight end in the draft, who could work well with Gary Barnidge

  • S Vonn Bell of Ohio State, as the Browns could use help at the position