With one first-round pick, and two second-round picks, the Browns seem to have enough ammunition to fill just the glaring needs of team. This post will focus on where the Browns have holes, and who seems to be the best player to fill each need.
Since I haven’t critically watched the college players enough, I’m assuming all analysis done by draftcountdown.com is correct, and thus, am offering no perspective on whether a player is rated too high or too low.
OLB: Wille McGinnest was brought in as a stop gap for year one, and situational player for the last two years of his three year deal (which is similar to why I think David Bowens was brought in).
However, Antwan Peek’s injuries forced McGinnest into full time duties last year, and Willie failed miserably. Willie was average at best in containing the run, awful at rushing the passer (three steps forward, put hands up), and was even worse in coverage, due to lack of speed.
Opposite him is Kamerion Wimbley, who has taken heat for his sack numbers dropping. However, from what I saw, he regularly gets pressure, and he’s very effective against outside runs.
I don’t have the ’08 stats from Football Outsiders yet, but in ’07, Wimbley was among the top 10 pass rushers in QB pressures. Alex Hall is a situational pass rusher, who can give Wimbley a breather if needed.
Draft Strategy: It’s possible that Brian Orakpo will be on the board at No. 5, and the Browns should draft him if he’s available. If he’s not, the next OLB, Everett Brown is considered a reach at No. 5.
Unfortunately, the best alternative the Browns have if Orakpo is gone, is trading down. However, they likely won’t find a suitor, due to the huge amount of guaranteed money the teams need to pay to these players.
While I don't think it's the correct move, don’t be shocked if the Browns draft Crabtree at five and wait to fill the void at OLB until round two, and get Michael Johnson or hope Larry English falls.
SS: Sean Jones was above average against the run, but got lost in pass coverage on a regular basis last year. For a team that has young CBs, better coverage skills were crucial. Losing out on Abram Elam left a gap at the position that Mike Adams isn’t qualified to fill full time.
Draft Strategy: Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of very good strong safeties in this draft, so Patrick Chung seems to be the best fit. He should be around when the Browns use the Bucs pick acquired in the Winslow trade.
DL: Nobody can doubt that Shaun Rogers is a stud. I was absolutely blown away by his performance last year, see related article.
Corey Williams was about average, and Robaire’s injury made everyone look worse for two reasons: 1) Santonio Thomas, Ahtya Rubin, and Louis Leonard needed to play more 2) Because those three were so bad; Williams, Rogers and Shaun Smith played more than they should have.
Mosley adds some depth, but another starter needs to be found as Robaire is getting up there in age.
Draft Strategy: The Browns have the fourth pick overall in the second round, and historically, this pick is very frequently traded. Thus, due to a roster with a lot of holes, trading down here is a very likely.
However, if they stay put, Ron Brace from Boston College may be the best fit, as he’s already 334 lbs, and supposedly very good against the run.
If the Browns decide to trade down, they can likely pick up a third round pick by moving to the middle of the second round. With that pick, the Browns can look to address their two other secondary areas of need.
CB: Wright and McDonald will certainly never be confused with a top CB tandem in the league, but it’s important to remember that McDonald was only expected to be nickel back last year (with Holly starting).
As such, I hope his baptism by fire encouraged him to work harder in the offseason.
However, despite their stature, I think both players were surprisingly good in run support, but still not among the best in this category either.
Corey Ivy, from what I read, is simply no better than a nickel back, and thus his signing adds much needed depth to the team
Therefore, if the Browns do pick up a third round pick by either trading down from their early No. 2 pick, or trading Derek Anderson for a third round pick, I think getting a bigger corner is a good idea.
RB: Much has also been made of Jamal Lewis’ decline last year, and while his stats certainly prove that, what I saw was something entirely different.
Based on how Mangini used Leon Washington (79 carries) and Thomas Jones (290 carries) last year, I’d expect to see more of a rotation between the two backs. I think Mangini will realize that this rotation is not only harder for defenses to adjust to, but also will give Lewis more of a break
That being said, Jamal will be 30-years old this season, and there’s history of a precipitous decline in running backs effectiveness at that age. Thus, if the Browns do pick up additional selections, finding a back in the third round would be a good idea.
There are some well known names that could be available in the fourth round as well (Glen Coffee, Shonn Greene, James Davis).
WR: I’m a firm believer that the Browns are better off with Braylon this year than they are without him, at almost any price (see related article).
While getting a first and third round pick would be great in return in most other years, because of the additional guaranteed money that another player would receive (in addition to the No. 5 pick), the Browns may be better off not making this trade. (This could be the reason why they’re looking for a No. 2, No. 5, and Dixon).
The uncertainty surrounding Stallworth’s return is obviously an issue as well, but I don’t think drafting a WR and expecting him to contribute in year one is probable. Signing Patten is an obvious replacement for Jurevicius, and in addition he was less expensive.
Thus, solving the WR issue isn’t going to be done through the draft, but potentially by acquiring a WR through free agency after it.