The popular opinion seems to be the Browns have been fleeced by Tampa Bay and New York, but a closer look reveals who really may be doing the fleecing. In actuality, Cleveland severed ties with two players who haven't contributed since 2007 and plagued the locker room with their distractions and inconsistency. In the meantime gathering a 2008 second round, 2009 third round, and two 2009 fifth rounders. As well as if Edwards pulls another 2007 season together and does well, Cleveland's third round pick will even become a second.
With the emerging talent this season in college football, the 2010 draft is getting deeper by the day. Thanks to a possible change in the rookie pay scale, underclassmen are being scared into coming out sooner, and the talent pool is growing immensely. Previously, the draft boards were starved for quarterbacks with only Sam Bradford(OU), Colt McCoy(TX), and Tim Tebow(FL) finding their way into the first round.
Now however it's become stacked. Jimmy Clausen(ND), Jake Locker(WSH), Tony Pike(CIN), Jevan Snead(Ole Miss), and Zac Robinson(OSU) are all expected to break into the first three rounds as well, with Jimmy Clausen rumored to be the new number one overall favorite.
Everyone knows the top prospects in the first round this year, the quarterbacks previously stated, Eric Berry, Taylor Mays, Carlos Dunlap, Russell Okung, Ndamukong Suh, the list goes on and on. But with a coach that clearly doesn't intend to draft in the top 20, where does this leave Cleveland? Besides taking whoever the Jets don't want at the end of the year, Mangini will definitely trade down and stockpile more draft picks. As I said earlier, there is a lot of value in a deeper draft this year.
According to mock drafts and general draft consensus, the second round may feature players of a first round caliber, featuring DE Sergio Kindle(TX) and ILB Brandon Spikes(FL) both dropping down the boards. Joining them will be DE Everson Griffen(USC), WR Arrelious Benn(IL), OLB Ricky Sapp(Clem), RB Jonathan Dwyer(GA), OT Ciron Black(LSU), and OT Sam Young(ND) to name a few.
Passing on Spikes or Kindle would be hard to do, since both would be tremendous value, but Kindle is more of a 4-3 sized DE and would likely become an OLB in the Browns system, and the Browns seemingly are set at ILB. Expect the Browns to gain another second round pick from trading down in the first, and grab DE Griffen of USC and OT Black of LSU.
In the third round is where the Browns have the opportunity to run the draft, currently sitting on two third round picks with enough late round picks to trade up, likely resulting in three third round selections in the value round.
Nobody talented are available in the third round though right? In the case of 2010, that would be dead wrong. Cleveland could very well find starters in this round. Needing to address RB, QB, DE, and WR still, projected to be available are QB's Tony Pike(CIN) and Zac Robinson(OSU), RB DeMarco Murray(OU), WR's Golden Tate(ND) and Marty Gilyard(CIN), and DE's Brandon Lang(Troy) and Tyson Alualu(Cal).
Since Cleveland would then have three picks, expect them to cash in on QB Tony Pike and the chemistry of his number one target WR Marty Gilyard, alongside the pickup of DE Brandon Lang to bookend newly acquired DE Everson Griffen. I would be very comfortable having a 2011 line of Griffen, Rogers, Lang.
In the fourth round, RB Charles Scott out of LSU should be available early to replace aging Jamal Lewis. Scott would be great value to the Cleveland system, which would then feature Harrison, Scott, and Davis next year.
For anyone already counting out Cleveland and saying they were fleeced by New York and Tampa Bay via trades, Mangini's draft intelligence could very well put an AFC North contender on the field by 2011. What did Winslow and Edwards lead the Browns to last season? 4-12. Obviously, they weren't contributing as much as outsiders seem to think.
Cleveland fans should be very excited about the rest of the season's player developments, the draft, and off-season. The team is in the middle of a rebuild and makeover, but there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, and it's coming soon.