With the NFL Draft set to begin on Thursday night and the Browns heavily involved in the first two days with three picks at 4, 22, and 37, there’s plenty of different routes that the Browns could take in attempting to improve an anemic offense and a defense with a need for more playmakers. You don’t hear me talk NFL Draft too often, primarily because I fail to see the point of getting entrenched in draft talk months before the draft or before the season is over. With that said, here is some of what I’m thinking about the Browns’ plan of attack for Thursday through Saturday.
- I want Trent Richardson at four. Yeah, running backs don’t have the shelf life that quarterbacks do. But, if you keep drafting left tackles, quarterbacks, and defensive ends only because they have longer careers, it’s going to be hard to find the playmakers you need in the lower rounds and in free agency. If Richardson truly is the biggest running back in the draft since Adrian Peterson, you’ve got to take him. Peterson has been in the league for five years now and been at the top of the league from the beginning. If Peterson gives only 2-3 more years at the top, that’s a pretty good run. I’ll take 7-8 years of a top flight running back with a higher chance of success than a QB I don’t believe in who if he hits could be here 10-12 years. That’s if we’re able to sign him to a second contract.
- Which brings me to the Ryan Tannehill talk that has been a little bit exhausting. The overwhelming statement from the pro-Tannehill camp has been, “if you think he’s the franchise quarterback, you HAVE to take him at four.” I couldn’t possibly agree more with this. The problem is I don’t think he is the guy nor do I think the Browns believe he is either. I can turn that around and tell the Tannehillers that “you can’t take a quarterback at four just because you need one and you hope he can become a franchise guy.” If there are more sure things in positions of need and they’re the best players available (Richardson & Claiborne), you have to go grab one of them.
- There’s a difference between believing Colt McCoy is the guy and tolerating him for one more season as you improve the rest of the team for the next guy. Some Tannehillers fail to realize that it seems.
- I know this would tick a lot of people off, but I wouldn’t have any problem with Morris Claiborne at four either. The Browns have a nice core of young players on their defense for years to come in Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, D’Qwell Jackson, and Chris Gocong. Adding Claiborne to compliment Haden would only improve a pass defense that ranked near the top for most of the year. Of course, a primary reason for that was the porous run defense, but that will hopefully be addressed with drafting for depth on the D-line in later rounds.
- I really hope that a quality receiver worthy of being selected at 22 is still there when we pick. I originally was all for taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but I’ve softened on that stance, given the high number of receivers who could make close to the same impact in the later part of the first round. This includes Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill, and Alshon Jeffery. Malcolm Floyd will be gone, and the rest could probably be had at 37. I have a lot of confidence in Greg Little as a future number two receiver in this league, and the rest of the Browns receiving group slots into place fairly well (Masssaquoi at three, Cribbs at four) if you add a true number one threat.
- I’m not a huge Brandon Weeden fan, but I’m okay with him at 37, not 22. If Weeden can step in and be your starter mid-year this year or at the latest to start next season, it’s an intriguing pick in round two. His numbers were phenomenal at Oklahoma State, though the shotgun spread offense will tend to inflate that. It’s pretty clear to me though that he’d be in the mix with the other top guys if he was 22 or 23 years old. My rebuttal would be how is this different from signing a free agent QB on the wrong side of 30? If he can start for you and be effective for even just six or seven seasons, isn’t that worth it? Of course it is! I’m not convinced on Weeden, because I haven’t seen enough film on him to fairly evaluate him. What I do know is that if the only reservation the team has about him is the age factor, then they can and likely will pick him at some point.
- A right tackle is undoubtedly the third biggest hole on this team. Thank goodness we’re not looking to another terrible year of Tony Pashos manning the spot. I know he was hurt, but the Browns trotting him out there in the shape he was in was flatout pathetic. In order for the Browns O-line to really gel, they need their young guards in Pinkston and Lauvao to continue their development. If the Browns walk out of the top three picks with a wide receiver, running back, and right tackle, I’ll be a happy camper.
- Something tells me that Heckert will give us another Phil Taylor moment (Who?) as we approach either the 22nd or 37th pick. I could see us trading a few spots up or down at either of those spots. I just hope the Browns don’t get in the business of giving picks away unless they’re in rounds six and seven.