How Pierre Desir Fits with the Cleveland Browns

Wes StueveContributor IIIMay 10, 2014

Lindenwood defensive back Pierre Desir runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Apparently, the Cleveland Browns were not content to add just one cornerback, as the team chose to draft Pierre Desir in the fourth round. The Lindenwood prospect didn't have a huge profile, but some mock drafts had him going as high as the second round. 

When the Browns drafted Justin Gilbert at No. 8, many analysts were surprised. Similarly, not many were expecting Cleveland to use one of its remaining two picks on another cornerback.

Mike Pettine's scheme requires big, physical cornerbacks that can play in press coverage on the outside. And with Joe Haden forcing passes the other direction, Cleveland wants playmakers at cornerback. This way, the Browns can at least benefit from teams avoiding Haden by forcing interceptions. 

Both Gilbert and Desir fit the profile. Each cornerback is over 6'0" with length, athleticism and ball skills. Desir had 25 interceptions during his college career, and Gilbert had seven as a senior. 

Incumbent starter Buster Skrine did not fit what Pettine is looking for in a cornerback. Skrine stands in at just 5'9" and has just two career interceptions. Don't expect to see him playing on the outside anytime soon, barring injuries. 

Desir isn't just a big body, however. He is a good athlete with smooth hips and ball skills. His length won't help him any in defending smaller wideouts on short pass routes, but it will be difficult to beat him deep.

Additionally, Desir could possibly shift to free safety or cover the slot if Cleveland needs him there. He should be able to stick on the outside, though the Browns don't need another starter, but he has the size and zone coverage ability to drop back and play safety. 

At the present moment, safety isn't an area of concern for Cleveland, either. Tashaun Gipson played well last season in his first year as a starter, and he will get the opportunity to show it wasn't a fluke. But that isn't really the point.

With the addition of Desir, Cleveland has a deep and flexible cornerback unit. Joe Haden can do essentially anything the Browns ask him to, and he can play in any scheme. Gilbert and Desir are similar players with athleticism, length and playmaking ability. Skrine is a good defender of slot receivers who can handle some of the smaller players that may give Desir and Gilbert fits.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

In addition to those four, the Browns also have 2013 third-round pick Leon McFadden and free-agent acquisition Isaiah Trufant. McFadden hasn't proven anything, but he was a decent prospect coming out of the draft. However, he is another smaller cornerback, and he isn't a fit on the outside.

Entering the draft, Cleveland clearly wasn't comfortable with its cornerbacks and their ability to play outside in Pettine's scheme. That is no longer an issue, and the Browns are set up to have a terrific defense in 2014. There is talent on the roster, and Pettine is one of the best defensive minds in football.

The pick of Desir gives the Browns flexibility across the board and allows Pettine to run his scheme. It wasn't the wide receiver fans were hoping for, but Desir looks to be an important piece for Cleveland's defense.