Pierre Desir Is Great Story, but Browns Get Great Value in CB as Well

Andrea HangstFeatured Columnist IVMay 10, 2014

Pierre Desir has all the physical tools and the intangibles any team would covet. And the Browns got him.
Pierre Desir has all the physical tools and the intangibles any team would covet. And the Browns got him.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns added to their defensive depth Saturday, taking Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir with the 127th overall pick.

Desir's name has been brought up more often in the weeks and days leading up to the NFL draft thanks to his background story. A small-school prospect, a Haitian immigrant at a young age and a father by 16 years old, Desir now has two daughters—upon whom he dotes—and is married to his high school sweetheart. He went from cleaning bathrooms for $40 a day to the NFL in a handful of years. He's the feel-good story of the 2014 draft.

Now he's with the Browns. And now he has another hurdle to clear.

The Browns aren't thin at starting cornerback. Before the draft, their top two at the position were Joe Haden and Buster Skrine. They also have last year's third-rounder, Leon McFadden. And with the eighth overall pick this year, the Browns drafted Justin Gilbert, who will likely be starting on the outside with Haden beginning this season.  

Pierre Desir's Lindenwood Stats
via LindenwoodLions.com

However, Desir shouldn't have a problem sticking on Cleveland's roster. He played well enough at Lindenwood to secure invites to the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and scouting combine. In his two years at Lindenwood, he had a combined 93 tackles, 13 interceptions and 34 passes defensed. While not against top-tier offenses, those numbers aren't worth ignoring.

Desir is athletic and, most importantly for a cornerback, fluid. He's a natural at the position, but he does need some technical development—hence his fourth-round pedigree. But his well-established work ethic combined with Cleveland's defensive coaching staff should accelerate his transition from college to the NFL.

In the best-case scenario, Desir could be ready to start as early as next year, when Haden is an unrestricted free agent. Should that happen, the Browns could save a hefty amount of salary-cap space while not dropping off the quality of their cornerback play. Even if it doesn't, Desir may exhibit too much talent to keep off the field, even if he has to play in the slot for a few seasons.

At a larger school with similar stats, Desir could have been a first-round prospect. His ceiling is incredibly high, and his floor not all that low. He's not just a value pick—he's a steal. There's virtually no concern that he'll slack off now that he has a contract with the Browns and surprisingly few obstacles between him and a starting job.

Desir comes into Cleveland with a compelling story, but it's one that hasn't finished being written. The Browns couldn't have made a better decision in Round 4 by using one of just two third-day picks on Desir, who may have the biggest upside of any defender in this year's draft.