Getting to know your new Cleveland Browns: Brad Smelley

With this edition of “Getting to Know,” we turn to Chris Brown of Smart Football fame. Chris covers football at all levels — history, philosophy, Xs and Os — and was the author of several poignant Alabama-related pieces over at Grantland. Today, we are pleased to provide his take on the Browns’ seventh-round pick, Brad Smelley.

How would you characterize Brad’s college career?

He was a team first guy at Alabama and carved out a very important role on a star-studded offense. As I wrote in January, even if he’s not a crushing blocker or a Aaron Hernandez vertical threat as a receiver, he’s extremely versatile and, having originally committed to Alabama as a quarterback, very smart and understands the game.

What are the Browns getting with Smelley?

I do think Brad’s game translates to the NFL, which is why the Browns picked up a guy who maybe doesn’t jump off the charts athletically. If nothing else, he’s a good team guy and should contribute on special teams right away. He’s an interesting project. I didn’t analyze enough to know whether he’d be picked, but was happy to see that he was.

Brad isn’t a true-to-mold fullback, nor is he of the Jimmy Graham, pass-catching ilk. Nick Saban isn’t walking through that door. Essentially, where can dp you see Smelley fitting in with the Browns’ West Coast style of offense?

The way they used him at Alabama is basically exactly what I would think the Browns would do: Motioning around as an H-back, athletic enough to line up in the slot sometimes, lots of traps, pulls, kick-out type blocks, and then the fakes off those to release into the flat and so on. Obviously he needs to improve his strength and quickness both for the passing game but also to handle some of those tough edge rushers — he’ll have some tough matchups versus, say, the Ravens and Steelers but in time could develop into a very dependable guy.

Is there an NFL player that you think is a good comparison?

A good analogue for him would be how the 49ers used former sixth-round draft pick (and former WR) Delanie Walker. Walker is a bit more stout than Smelley, though he’s also been in the league for about five years, but Smelley is taller and should continue to fill out. The 49ers did a great job with him on all those traps, kick-outs, whams, and so on for them this year, in addition to being a legit — if unspectacular — receiving threat. I see this being something Smelley could do.

In addition to his take on Smelley, Chris also provided a take on what the Browns did with their first two picks in the NFL Draft — a highly recommended read for those who have yet to see it. Our thanks to him for taking the time.

  • mgbode

    “having originally committed to Alabama as a quarterback”

    QB controversy!!!!!


  • mgbode

    love the answers here and followed it up going to the link on the Browns draft picks and the Weeden Fiesta Bowl.

    Leach’s system generally doesn’t have many post-snap reads (RGIII is another who ran the system – funny that those were QBs 2 and 3 drafted this year).  i am curious to see if there is more than mentioned in that one article.   that one isn’t a true post-snap read IMO as it’s a pre-snap read on formation and a dump-off if it’s obviously wrong.

    one thing to like though is that the stick route triangle was a route staple last year for us, so that particular concept should mesh well with what he needs to do here.  if Greg Little can catch the ‘stick’ as was usually his job, then perhaps it’ll work better (of course, we’ll see if Weeden’s arm strength opens up the flat route more and if the cause of that play not working as well was the defense cheating away from it)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Weeden also didn’t have to move around alot at Okie State he was able to drop back and be comfortable in his pocket and make his quick throws.  We all know the NFL is an entirely different animal which is why it’s a good thing, for Weeden most of all, the Browns added some OL.  I also believe I read somewhere that his passing accuracy dropped significantly when he was on the run.

  • Runcordes

    Weeden’s NFL combine scouting report said that his touch and accuracy “decrease immensely.” Not that they have everyone perfectly scouted but that says a lot about the need to get that O line up to par. It could get ugly if the O line still has holes.  

  • Harv 21

    Needs nomination to Browns HOF, Best Names category. Fills position abdicated (involuntarily) by Sedric Steptoe. 

  • mgbode

    by “some holes” are you referring to the gaping safety cone that we had at RT, otherwise known as Pashos trying to play on 1 leg?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The fact that they signed Pashos given his injury history was bad enough.  When you add on the fact that he played with such a limiting injury it makes things worse.  At least Weeden won’t face that problem it appears.

  • MadHat

    In Weeden We Win!!!

  • Needs to grow up…

    Am I the only juvenile fan that wants a picture of two rookies sitting next to each other in uniform from the back in this order…Smelley…Sweat? I mean that’d be like H&H finding a guy who’s last name is Steamer!

  • MagicBrownies

    A great stat about Brad Smelley:  21 of his 27catches (77.8%) last year were for first downs.  The guy is a X-factor, and chain mover.  Exactly what the Brownies need.

  • I think the Browns need more than just Brad but they definitely need someone to move the chains. But Brad is a good start.