How Will The Browns' Draft Picks Fit Into The Team's Gameplan?
After finishing 2008 ranked near the bottom of the league in offense (31st) and defense (26th), Eric Mangini and his coaching staff need to find a way to fill all the holes in the Browns' game.
One great move for Cleveland was picking up the Center Alex Mack out of Cal in the first round. Mack should be a considerable improvement over the aging Hank Fraley.
The Browns have taken several steps toward building a solid offensive line over the past several seasons, including the additions of players such as guard Eric Steinback and tackle Joe Thomas in 2007. Thomas went to his second straight Pro Bowl in 2008.
If tackle Ryan Tucker can get healthy and stay healthy in '09, Mangini will have one less aspect to worry about in the Browns' offense.
Moving on to the receivers, we find the virtual antithesis to old butterfingers, Braylon Edwards, in the sure-handed Brian Robiskie. The Browns' second pick in the 2009 draft will hopefully bring some much needed reliability when it comes to actually holding on to the ball and making first downs.
Robiskie has some big shoes to fill with the absence of Joe Jurevicius, after no contract agreement was able to be reached with the former Browns receiver.
Flying in under the radar is WR Mohamed Massaquoi out of Georgia. The former Bulldog caught 58 passes for 920 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior year. He also had a streak of 33 consecutive games with a reception to end his college career.
Massaquoi could be a player to watch for in 2009.
The Browns' dismal defense will also be seeing some new faces in the upcoming season.
David Veikune out of Hawaii, though smaller than most linebackers at 257 lbs, is a quick, agile back with tremendous awareness, which earned him the honor of second-team All-Western Athletic Conference in 2008.
Kaluka Maiava, a linebacker out of USC, has the sort of low-key yet determined demeanor that could make him a plus for the Browns.
His versatility in college enabled him to play all three linebacker positions, which could make him a valuable guy to have on the bench just in case any of the starters should go down.
The Browns' secondary is liable to see some improvement, despite its already solid base made up by DB's like Brodney Pool and Eric Wright.
Defensive back Don Carey, out of Norfolk State, brings with him quick hands and a good head on his shoulders. The four-year starter had the chance to go to Yale but turned it down simply because of financial reasons.
When this cornerback/safety was asked what position he preferred in an interview with the Browns media, he responded: "I do whatever the coach asks, I'll be the first one to volunteer for anything."
Sixth round pick Coye Francies has been called arguably the most underrated cornerback in the draft. He is not an imposing individual but his athleticism makes up for it in a big way.
Franchies was an All-American at American River College in 2005, when he made 11 interceptions. He then transferred to OSU where he continued his success.
One weakness to consider is Franchies' inexperience, having only played one full season of Division I football.
Running back James Davis out of Clemson could provide an explosive second option behind Jamaal Lewis when it comes to the Browns' running game.
Despite the fact that his stats tailed off in his senior year at Clemson, Davis could still be an exciting point of interest come preseason.
With no prominent QB's acquired in the draft, expect Brady Quinn to be starting for the Browns come the regular season, although Derek Anderson should keep his shoulder loose. This controversy may continue well into 2009.
All in all, the Browns are poised to be a better team than they were last year. Once again they have the talent to work with. Now it's up to Eric Mangini and company to try and mold them into something that looks like an NFL football team.
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