Tom Heckert and Jimmy Haslam
One of the critical decisions that will face new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is whether he should retain GM Tom Heckert.
It's a difficult choice, because up to now Heckert has been managed by team president Mike Holmgren. The question that will have to be answered is: Which picks were by Heckert and which were pushed for by Holmgren?
Heckert was named GM in January of 2010. Here is an analysis of the drafts:
The 2010 draft
1 7 Joe Haden CB Florida: Other than the suspension this season, Haden has become a top CB and the best corner on the team. He is a potential All-Pro.
2 38 T.J. Ward SS Oregon: Ward is better against the run than covering the pass. He has been OK but is still a liability in coverage.
2 59 Montario Hardesty RB Tennessee: He has been hurt two years in a row, and has a fraction of his college abilities. They traded up to get him after RB Ben Tate went to Houston the pick before. Hardesty had a history of injury and was a risk that has yet to pay off.
3 85 Colt McCoy QB Texas: Colt was supposed to ride the bench all year. He got in after the two QBs in front of him got hurt. He did better than expected in 2010, but under Shurmur in 2011, not as well.
3 92 Shawn Lauvao G Arizona State: I did not have Lauvao ranked nearly this high. He has started since the start of 2011 and is the weak point in the line.
5 160 Larry Asante DB Nebraska: He had a good training camp but was cut. He started some games for Tampa Bay and has been a good special teams guy.
6 177 Carlton Mitchell WR South Florida: I really liked this pick as a high-value speed WR. But he did not get developed and was cut this year. He was a key pick for a team with a little speed but did not work out.
6 186 Clifton Geathers DE South Carolina: did not make the 2010 roster
Hits 4 Misses 2 Miss used 2
The 2011 draft
1 21 Phillip Taylor DT Baylor: The Browns traded down with the Falcons to get an extra second-round pick and a first in 2012. Taylor was a bit of a reach but has played like a first-round pick.
2 37 Jabaal Sheard DE Pittsburgh: I had the Browns taking Sheard as early as January. He was a solid pick and had been the best pass rusher on the team. This is a good pick.
2 59 Greg Little WR North Carolina: Little did not play in 2010 and it showed from the start. He is by default the number one WR on the team, but would be a third or fourth guy on a good team.
4 102 Jordan Cameron TE USC: He's a basketball player playing TE. He does not understand patterns and has an uncertain hand. He has yet to make a significant impact on a team desperate for a young TE to work the middle of the field.
4 124 Owen Marecic RB Stanford: Marecic is a terrific guy that played both ways at Stanford. He is not an NFL FB. He lacks the speed and the football IQ to play the position. He was drafted to replace Pro-Bowler FB Lawrence Vickers. Marecic has failed miserably.
5 137 Buster Skrine DB Tennessee-Chattanooga: Skrine has speed but his football IQ is questionable. He is also very short and struggles to make individual tackles.
5 150 Jason Pinkston T Pittsburgh: Pinkston has started since Game 1 of 2011. While I grade him above Lauvao, he is not yet a starting quality LG.
7 248 Eric Hagg DB Nebraska: I liked this pick. Hagg is a tough guy with some skill. He is not the FS of a Super Bowl team but is a good DB.
Hits 5 Misses 1 Incomplete 2
It seemed when WR Kendall Wright went off the board at No. 20, the Browns panicked. They moved every one of their targeted players up one round. That is how you get a third-round OT in the second and a fourth-round DT in the third.
1 3 Trent Richardson RB Alabama: Richardson is a great player. While I am not sure they had to trade up to No. 3 to get him, he is the best player on the team. Now the team has to develop a line and offense to take full advantage of his skills.
1 22 Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma State: Weeden has shown he is tough enough to be an NFL QB. However, the grade is incomplete until we see some more games. There was a good chance he would have been available in the second round. However, I have no issue with taking him here because the team was convinced McCoy was not an NFL starting quality QB.
2 37 Mitchell Schwartz T California: Schwartz was a third round prospect taken in the second. He was not my choice but has been given the RT spot. He has struggled blocking the pass and the run.
3 87 John Hughes DT Cincinnati: I did not like Hughes. He seemed unmotivated in college but has show much better under DC Dick Jauron.
4 100 Travis Benjamin WR Miami (Fla.): He has brought speed to the team but is undersized. He has a reputation for having questionable hands that has not changed in the NFL. He would be better used as the slot receiver working the middle. Too often he has been sent down the sideline against taller DBs. Too often that has resulted in interceptions.
4 120 James-Michael Johnson LB Nevada-Reno: JMJ is a very talented player that has been hurt for much of the season so far. I think he will be fine and was of good value.
5 160 Ryan Miller T Colorado: I liked this pick as well. He played G and T in college. He has been banged up but this should work out to be a good pick.
6 204 Emmanuel Acho LB Texas: Acho does not have the instincts you want but is pretty athletic and has potential. He is on the practice squad.
6 205 Billy Winn DT Boise State: This was the second-best pick of the draft. I loved Winn and at No. 205 he's of great value. He beat out Hughes to start, replacing Taylor, and has been very solid.
7 245 Trevin Wade CB Arizona: Wade made the team but has struggled a bit in coverage. But in the seventh round, Wade was a good pick with potential.
7 247 Brad Smelley RB Alabama: I felt that Smelley blocked better than Marecic at FB/H back. He is on the practice squad but should be back soon.
In addition Heckert signed a couple of very good undrafted rookies, including LBs L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson.
It is too soon to grade the hits and misses in 2012. But overall, this class is the best so far. I feel certain that Richardson is a beast. If Weeden works out at all and the others develop like I feel they will, this will be a very good draft.
2013 second-round pick Josh Gordon WR Baylor: Gordon was a desperation pick because the WRs were not looking good at any time. Gordon did not play in 2011 and is struggling to pick up the offense and become a factor. While he may be a starting-quality WR someday, he has not shown that so far.
The grade for 2010-2011 is nine hits three misses and a group of incomplete or misused picks. Overall, that is a good record. I want to see Heckert with a year of picks in 2013 without Holmgren being in the picture. Then we will be able to grade 2012 and get a feel for 2013.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on http://www.eBooks-Library.com/Contemporary/ and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.
Also listen to the best Sports Talk anywhere on the Internet and hear his sports show Monday-Thursday 6-7:30 PM EST on or http://mooheadradio.com/2.5/?page_id=21.