Many names have been mentioned, including Sam Bradford, Eric Berry, Joe Haden, CJ Spiller, Dez Bryant, and Rolando McClain, no mention a few.
Before I tell you my choice at # 7, let me go over my thoughts on what it all means.
Heckert has said that his philosophy is to choose the best player available at each draft slot. I like this approach and for most teams, it would be for the best.
However, for the Browns, who have been down so long, they have needs that just have to be filled.
What if Suh drops to # 7. Do you take him? Best player available. But the Browns have Rogers and Rubin.
Do you take Suh because he's the best player available and ignore the glaring need at other positions?
The answer is obvious. The Browns should use Suh as bait to trade down to get more picks, perhaps a needed positional player, or another pick or two.
IMO, the Browns should draft for need for a year or two. That way the team becomes competitive and the "best player available", down the road, can use his skills more effectively as a playmaker, instead of covering for the deficiencies of other positions.
OK, so what is the most glaring need? They obviously need some DBs, an OLB to get to the QB, a burner at WR, a stud at RB, and a future franchise QB. (And that's just for starters.)
Do you trade up and get Bradford? Very risky, considering his injury, the amount of guaranteed money he would command as the # 1 pick and as a QB, and the cost in other draft picks that the Browns have so astutely gathered over the last year for a total rebuild.
NO. Holmgren is the QB guru and can probably find the next Montana, Favre, or Hasselbeck later in the draft. If his recent praise of Bradford is for real, and not pre-draft tomfoolery, then a trade up to get him would be Herschel Walker 2.0. Even with 12 picks, at the time of this article, the cost would be too high, considering the overall needs that the Browns have to fill.
And Holmgren has already put in motion having Delhomme starting and Wallace backing him up for next year. The next rookie phenom will sit on the bench and be allowed the luxury of learning for a year or two before being annealed in the fire of NFL combat.
What about a “burner at WR”, as Holmgren put it in his recent presser? We’ve all seen suggestions to draft Dez Bryant at the # 7 spot.
Don’t we remember last year when everyone was agreeing that the position of WR was one of the hardest transitions to the NFL? I heard over and over, let’s give Massaquoi and Robiskie time to get acclimated to the NFL and to the nuances to the big leagues. It takes time for a WR to become effective. Yada, Yada, Yada.
So you want another rookie at WR and hope he will become effective in year 2 or 3? Ah, . . . . . NO.
So no WR at # 7.
What about the Running Back Position?
The Browns have Harrison, Jennings, and Davis, and now Hillis. Individually, they aren’t Jim Brown or Walter Payton, but what team has those type of players? Collectively, they could count for a effective Running Back Committee.
And so, certainly, there is enough potential talent at the RB position to pass on CJ Spiller when there are so many needs elsewhere.
So let’s move to the other side of the ball.
The 3 – 4, the basic D that Rob Ryan prefers, is a defense to allow the linebackers to make the plays near the line of scrimmage. They are considered the strength of this alignment.
Maybe so. But only if the D-line can eat up blockers and the defensive backs can shut down the receivers.
Let’s look at this situation a little more closely.
Is there a game changing LB at # 7? IMO, NO. Could the Browns trade down to get a playmaker at LB? Yes, but it wouldn’t be the most effective use of the # 7 pick.
I shall explain further.
Let’s look at the defensive backfield.
The general consensus with the Brown’s # 7 pick is a defensive back, either SS Eric Berry, if he falls to # 7, or CB Joe Haden, who will probably be there at # 7.
Granted, Eric Berry is a game changer. His stats speak for themselves. He started for Tennessee as a freshman at Strong Safety in 2007. He left college with NCAA records in total INTs, INTs per game, INT return yards, and INTS for TDs. Statistically, he is considered one of the most dominant DBs in NCAA history, often compared with Ed Reed (free safety) of the Baltimore Ravens.
Sounds like a no brainer, eh? But Wait.
There’s Joe Haden. Cornerback out of Florida University. His numbers speak for themselves, as well. He started at CB as a freshman going up against speedsters in the SEC. He had 197 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 8 INTs in his 3 years for Florida.
And with Haden’s pro day 40 yard times being in the 4.45 to 4.48 in rainy conditions means that he’s a legitimate top 10 pick along with Eric Berry.
So, who should the Browns pick at # 7? That’s the $20 – 25 million guaranteed question.
IMO, the Browns should go with Joe Haden at # 7.
I ask myself what position would do the most good for the Browns, overall. The answer comes up cornerback. Remember the Pittsburgh game? Because Hines Ward had a hamstring injury, McDonald was able to cover him while Eric Wright covered Santonio Holmes.
This was the defining game of the Browns going forward into 2010.
If Hines Ward had been healthy, McDonald would have not been able to cover him effectively and a safety would have had to help McDonald. This would have greatly diminished the total effectiveness of the defense against the Steeler offense.
As it was, the rest of the defense was able to cover the short receiver routes, specifically the RB out of the backfield and the TE releasing for a check down by Ben. And so, there was time for the defense to sack Ben Roethlisberger 8 times for 60 yards. Overall, the defense allowed only 201 yards passing and 77 yards rushing in that game. This was domination of a Super Bowl Champion.
With Rob Ryan’s defense coming from anywhere at any time, the Steelers had no chance.
Before I come to my ultimate conclusion, I would like to point out that Rob Ryan has a strong pedigree. His father, Buddy Ryan was the architect of the famous 1985 Chicago Bears 4-6 defense that won the Super Bowl and changed the defensive landscape in the NFL forever.
His brother, Rex Ryan, was the architect of the Baltimore Ravens defense that is essentially the blue print for modern day defenses. His 2000 defense is considered the best defense in the history of the NFL by many. (Although I would suggest that the ’85 Chicago defense and several Pittsburgh defenses be considered for “the best ever” as well.)
In both of those defenses, the cornerbacks were crucial elements to the entire defensive scheme. Their blanket coverage allowed the rest of the defense to be creative and show different fronts and rush from multiple directions. The others players may have gotten the publicity, but the cornerbacks were the cornerstone of these defenses.
The cornerbacks allowed Mike Singletary in Chicago and Ray Lewis to become dominant in those defenses. (Repeating myself, Leslie Frazier and Mike Richardson in Chicago and Chris McAlister and Duane Starks helped Mike Singletary and Ray Lewis make it to the Hall of Fame, respectively. I know, Lewis isn’t there yet, but he will be there. Do you really want to argue this point?)
Quick, who were the safeties playing along side Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield in the ‘80’s? . . . . Woof, Woof, Woof. Times up. I had to look it up also. They were Felix Wright and Ray Ellis and Mark Harper.
The whole Dawg Pound Legacy is based on two shut-down corners. Need I say more?
Ok, I will.
In the AFC North, the Browns face Ed Reed of the Ravens and Troy Palamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is easy to assume that the Browns should follow the lead of fellow division teams to achieve success.
I say not so fast. In Rob Ryan’s defense the cornerbacks are the key to his defensive creativity. Did you know that every position on defense had a sack in 2009? The first time in Browns history. Ryan has shown he’s not afraid to show a 3-4, a 4-3 and even his dad’s 4-6 defense. This absolutely requires the cornerbacks to be solid. They allow the rest of the defense to be unpredictable, creative and dominant in stopping the run, and blitzing the opposing QB. (Remember Ben on his back 8 times on December 10, 2009.)
Hense, the best cornerback should be taken at # 7 in the upcoming draft.
And so, with the # 7 pick of the 2010 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns should select Joe Haden, Florida University.