With additional draft picks being awarded to the Cleveland Browns, they now have a total of 13 opportunities to improve their team.
After Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson and Ryan Tannehill have had their pro-days, it is even more apparent that Trent Richardson is the pick they should turn in at four. Ryan Tannehill looked good and is very athletic, but is not a sure thing. Justin Blackmon is good, but no matter how good he is, how many times would he touch the ball in a game? His five-to-seven times targeted are not as valuable as the 20-25 times Trent Richardson could touch the ball and protect Colt McCoy.
Trent Richardson is not like any other back in the draft this year or last year. He has that rare mix of speed, power and durability. He is a willing and aggressive blocker. Trent Richardson is a real weapon. He and a healthy Brandon Jackson will present one of the best tandems of running backs in the AFC North. Ray Rice is a great back, but one back does not a tandem make in a long season. If Cleveland wants to really give Colt McCoy a chance to succeed, let him have a premiere running game.
After reviewing more tape on Justin Blackmon, I am even more convinced that his ceiling is not as high as some other receivers in the draft. His heart and locker room presence are some of the intangibles that make him attractive to any team. He is fast but not a blazer; he has good hands but not great hands. He is a solid receiver and will be good on the next level. He would be exceptional in a Browns uniform if they were not picking as high as four.
Blackmon's talent can be matched by other receivers in the draft like Baylor’s Kendall Wright or Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd. Cleveland will get a very good receiver with the 22nd pick. Were Cleveland a more complete team, Justin Blackmon would be a nice pick-up. There are too many holes to fill for Cleveland to draft Blackmon so high.
Ryan Tannehill's stock is on the rise and Cleveland is in a position to take him and secure their “franchise” quarterback. It is clear they are not behind Colt McCoy no matter what they say or how they try to frame it. They are willing to bring in a quarterback that only had 19 starts to replace Colt. Colt McCoy’s not the answer in Cleveland and has a low ceiling, but is Ryan Tannehill the answer? Not at number four.
Mike Mayock believes the Browns must take Ryan Tannehill because he is a franchise quarterback. How anyone can come to that conclusion after 19 starts is beyond me. (Mike) Mayocks’ word of the day with Tannehill is patience. Mike Mayock obviously is not a Browns fan, because if he was he would know that they have been more than patient with this franchise.
To ask the fans and the entire team to have Tannehill sit for a year while the team treads its tires in mud, then come in next year and take his lumps would give Cleveland two seasons of unnecessary ineptitude. If Cleveland does drink the Ryan Tannehill Kool Aid, he needs to start right away. If the Browns have the sack to draft him, then have the sack to play him.
The Browns tried to get their "quarterback of the future" and failed. It is time to move on and not force a square peg into a round hole. Ryan Tannehill would be great if he was available where he should be drafted, in the mid 20’s. The Browns do not want to put themselves in a situation where they are settling for another second-tier quarterback when they have two on their roster already.
With so many picks in this years’ draft, Cleveland can add some starters and depth to their young team. Most of all they can add speed. They need to add speed at every position. With the right moves, the Browns can compete this year and be much improved over their dismal 4-12 season.
Mock Draft 2.0
4. Trent Richardson RB Alabama-This is too high to draft a quarterback who only started 19 games. Blackmon is a gifted receiver, but is he the fourth best prospect at this spot? Trent Richardson is the safest and most immediate impact player available at the four spot. (Ryan) Tannehill has a fighting chance here because the Browns could get a quality receiver and running back at the 22nd and 37th pick. The question is does (Mike) Holmgren want to put his franchise and all his coaches' jobs in the hands of a QB with so little experience that he cannot read a safety? If he does take Tannehill here he needs to start him and get him as much experience as possible. Do not draft someone with the fourth pick and act like he is competing for the job. Either start him or don’t draft him. For Browns fans I hope Mike Holmgren does not pass up on a sure contributor for a maybe.
22. Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech-I still have the Browns going for Stephen Hill if he is available. If the Browns draft (Trent) Richardson and the front seven creeps up, Hill will take the top right off the defense. Stephen Hill can threaten a defense deep, and will be strong after the catch. If it is not Stephen Hill, just insert the next best receiver on the board.
37. Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma State-Brandon Weeden’s age is becoming less and less of a problem as his leadership ability and arm strength are rising to the top. A lot of great teams were vanquished under the arm of Brandon Weeden. If the Browns leave the first two rounds with a starting running back, receiver and quarterback nobody should be complaining.
He can make all the throws, and if he was 22 instead of 28 he could challenge for being the second best quarterback in the draft. Browns fans should not worry about the AARP factor with Weeden. If the Browns can have a franchise quarterback for the next eight or nine years in Weeden, they would take it happily.
Zach Brown OLB out of North Carolina was my original pick at this spot. If Zach Brown can get past two other teams he could be there for the Browns at this spot and would be a huge upgrade on the outside of that LB core. His athletic ability and speed are what that defense needs, but not as much as they need a starting quarterback.
67. Zerbie Sanders OT Florida State-My original pick here was Chase Minnifield CB Virginia, but this would be a good time to address the right side of the offensive line that is sorely in need of some help. Zerbie Sanders plays both tackle spots, giving the Browns a good back-up to Joe Thomas. He started on the right side, and this would give him a chance to go back to his natural position. At 6'6", 315 lbs he is more than a load with good hands and can sink his hips to drive block. He is also the high character type of player the Browns are trying to add to their team. I had Zerbie going lower in the draft but still on the Browns' radar. In three rounds the Browns could sure up the line, add a powerful running back, a speed merchant at wide receiver and a quarterback to challenge Colt McCoy. Cleveland could be a totally different offensive team going into the season.
100. Sean Spence OLB Miami-Spence is undersized at 5'11", 231 lbs only in height. His anticipation and reading of the quarterback make him fast to react and to get into pass drops. Spence could go earlier but with many 3-4 teams there may be less of a market in the first three rounds. Spence could have an impact immediately as he is a film guy with strong leadership skills.
Brock Osweiler was my original pick but with Brandon Weeden being the apple of Cleveland’s eye, they will fill their QB needs earlier than later. Due to the limited QB possibilities in this draft Brock Osweiler will also likely be over drafted.
118. Omar Bolden CB Arizona State-Since I moved Zerbie Sanders up that left a spot to add that play making cornerback. He would have earned a much higher pick had he not torn an ACL. He is not fully recovered but will be in time to help the Browns. He can immediately be moved to nickel packages. This could be the sleeper of the Browns' draft if they get him. Excels at both man and zone coverage and fully healed will have more than enough speed to track down receivers. He is a willing and physical tackler. He can work into a starting position opposite Joe Haden.
131. Marvin McNutt WR Iowa-I had a corner being taken at this spot, but with McNutt the Browns could get a bigger possession receiver who is an exceptional route runner and good blocker. McNutt reminds me of a bigger Hinds Ward. He is not overly fast but is able to get open by finding holes in the defense and keeping the sticks moving. He is a physical player and has more sure hands than Greg Little. He can contribute on special teams, but also challenge to get into the receiving rotation.
164. Olivier Vernon DE Miami-I had DE Tyrone Crawford DE Boise State at this spot, but the Browns may want to look at a more explosive prospect who is raw and can develop into a nice edge rusher. Tyrone Crawford is rated higher because he is almost a finished product, but Olivier Vernon has that burst of the edge that Crawford lacks. As Vernon gets stronger his skills will improve. He has long arms and at 6’2", 261lbs he can bring the heat. He can be a rotational player behind the Browns' Jabaal Sheard or Frostee Rucker depending upon which side they would play him. Either way he can contribute his first year. He will be a project player, but could pay off big if he is not expected to start and can learn how to be a pro. Again he would be an immediate contributor on special teams.
195. Jaye Howard DT Florida-Jaye Howard is still my choice at this spot. He has a good three technique and has quick hands, and should be able to contribute in his first year in a rotation on passing down. He is going to have to be a rotational and be coached up. The reason I think he is a good pick for the Browns is because he played multiple positions across the defensive line, and the more positions you can play the more valuable you are. There may be some gems that fall this far which would push Jaye Howard off the Browns' radar.
204. Devier Posey WR Ohio State-He is fast player who can stretch the field. He runs in the 4.37 range in his 40-yard dash and is a fluid mover. He tends to float in his routes which he will have to work on at the pro level. His hands are average but he can get separation, which the Browns desperately need. At this point the Browns do not really have faith in any of their current receivers as far as consistency. Posey could be a surprise or a bust, but with 4.3 speed he is well worth the risk reward this late in the draft.
205. Chris Rainey RB Florida- Rainey is the type of utility player the Browns used to have on their team in Eric Metcalf. He can return the ball and can be a nice threat out of the backfield in a mismatch against a LB. His shiftiness and quick feet give him exceptional RAC (run after catch) capabilities. He can be a playmaker had late in the draft. Again adding speed is what the slow plodding Browns need, and Rainey’s 4.30 40 and quick twitch can pay off. His lack of size will scare some teams off at 5’8",180lbs, but he is not going to be an every-down back for Cleveland.
245. Terrell Manning OLB North Carolina State- He has potential but lacks the natural instinct to break down an offense. He is a very hard hitter, and will be an immediate contributor on special teams. It may take some time to develop him into that player that can be counted on. He is young, and has a lot of physical skills that can be molded by a Dick Jauron-led defense.
247. Lucas Nix OG Pittsburgh-He originally played RT at Pittsburgh, but was ineffective so they kicked him into the guard spot where he found success. He is too slow to play RT at the pro level but at guard he is strong and aggressive, with much better speed for that position. His strength is his physical strength and will add depth at a key spot for Cleveland. Being able to play RT in an emergency situation does not hurt either. The more a player can do, the easier it is to find a roster spot for them.
Thirteen picks offer Cleveland a chance to build depth and talent going into the future. If Cleveland's rising defense can be even better this year, help from the offense can make the Browns a much different team. Whoever starts at quarterback could be handing the ball off to Trent Richardson and throwing to a speeding Stephen Hill. The line will have another year of playing together and have the addition of a real right tackle. Mike Holmgren has stated that he expects a large improvement over last year's performance, and knows with all their picks they are now in a position to win games and not just compete.
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