With the 2010 NFL draft rapidly approaching, there’s speculation from everyone, everywhere regarding what Cleveland is going to do in this draft.
Some are proponents of offensive help, while others are proponents of defensive help.
Some want Colt McCoy as the future QB, while others prefer Jevan Snead, Dan LeFevour, or Jimmy Clausen. Some want Earl Thomas at the safety spot, while some are adamant about Eric Berry.
The bottom line here is, Browns Nation can sense the importance of this draft, and they can feel the winds of change starting to blow on the Lake Erie shores—which, as all of you know, is a welcome feeling.
At no point since the reinstatement to the NFL in 1999 has there been this much optimism surrounding a perennially underachieving team. The additions of Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert and the reformation of head coach Eric Mangini have made this an offseason for the ages and have sparked interest and optimism.
There were many questions prior to the free agency period about how the Browns would address their needs, and the proverbial “wish list” has changed numerous times—either because of Cleveland acquisitions or other moves that had a direct impact on the Browns.
Some of those questions have been answered, while others remain unanswered. So, in this installment, I’d like to look at the draft and give you all what I feel is a very realistic view of the Cleveland Browns' needs and how they address them.
One caveat here: This is NOT figuring any trades, but let me just say this...if Berry is gone by No. 7, the Browns will most likely move down and try to acquire more selections to bolster the D. If the move down happens, it’ll likely be to the mid teens.
The reality is that it’ll probably take a couple of moves to get there, possibly with multiple teams, but I believe they settle in somewhere around 13-17 if the move happens.
On with the mock-ing...
Selection: Eric Berry - S - Tennessee
A run on offensive line selections in the top six opens the door for Cleveland to get what they need.
With Eric Berry, the Browns get the player that is widely regarded as the best DB in the 2010 NFL draft. Berry is a rare talent at the safety position and is possibly the best safety coming into the NFL since Bob Sanders.
The comparisons for him have been lofty, being compared to Ed Reed, Sanders, and Troy Polamalu. However, he’s built in the same mold as the aforementioned players.
Berry is a playmaking, ball-hawking safety that can play inside every coverage and scheme. He can effectively read every scheme the opponent shows and is not afraid to stick his nose in the mix and make a bone-jarring hit...ask his SEC opponents for the last three seasons.
This is the player Cleveland needs to make an immediate impact on defense, and he is a perfect fit next to Abe Elam. With Elam and Berry as the S tandem in Cleveland, they’re set for the foreseeable future and will have one of the top five tandems in all of the NFL.
Selection: Dexter McCluster - RB - Ole Miss
This pick is surely to be hotly debated, but I think it makes a ton of sense for Cleveland, and here’s why...
The acquisitions of Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong have solidified two positions of need that likely would have been looked at and addressed here.
With the acquisition of Brown, who is a Pro Bowl CB, he now combines with Eric Wright to form a dynamic, passing-game-flustering CB duo. He immediately makes Cleveland’s D much more formidable and allows some flexibility for Holmgren and Heckert.
At this juncture, Cleveland can afford to take a dynamic playmaker like McCluster because the CB and S needs have been addressed, more than adequately I might add.
Not to mention Cleveland NEEDS playmakers, and McCluster fits that bill, similar to the way Brian Westbrook fit the bill in Philly when they were looking for playmakers.
This is a guy that had 44 receptions for 520 yards and three TDs, along with 181 carries for 1,159 yards and eight TDs while averaging 6.9 per carry. That’s nearly 1,700 yards of production, and he would certainly be a welcome addition to a stagnant offense.
There’s no doubt that Cleveland needs WR help, and with a player like McCluster, they have the ability to work him in very similar to the way that Minnesota utilized Percy Harvin last season.
I think Heckert has identified the need for a dynamic playmaker, and I think Dexter McCluster is, aside of C.J. Spiller, the most dynamic player in this draft. Thus, he gets his guy.
*** I would also say, I think there’s a strong chance that Cleveland will move back up into the second round, looking to take a QB. The guy is likely Colt McCoy. However, since I’m not factoring trades, I cannot project that.
Selection: Ricky Sapp - DE/OLB - Clemson
I spoke on the previous slide about the acquisition of Chris Gocong and its importance, but what I didn’t mention was that Gocong is projecting as a fit in Cleveland’s D as an ILB.
That said, the Browns’ need for a rush linebacker is still imminently present in the wake of Kamerion Wimbley’s trade to Oakland.
That’s where Ricky Sapp comes in! This is a kid that had production, after coming off an ACL injury, with 54 tackles, 13 TFL, and five sacks. He has the size at 6’4”, 252 lbs., the speed with a 4.61 40, and the strength with 23 reps at 225 to be productive at the NFL level.
With his size and strength, he has the ability to hold the end and can also rush from that position as well. Sapp would be a very nice addition to the D and would shore up the OLB spot opposite David Bowens.
Selection: Chris Cook - CB - Virginia
Sheldon Brown, while still a complete B.A.M.F (figure it out), is getting older. Currently, he’s 31, and Cleveland will need to find his successor in this draft.
That guy could very well be Chris Cook. Even though Cook doesn’t do one thing extremely well, he does a lot of stuff well. That helps him a lot, as he comes in as a moldable player that can grow and learn to do certain things better.
Cook has been ranked by many as the eighth best CB in this class, behind names like Brandon Ghee (Wake), Dominique Franks (Oklahoma), Patrick Robinson (FSU), Kareem Jackson (Bama), Kyle Wilson (Boise), Devin McCourty (Rutgers), and of course, Joe Haden from Florida.
However, I think Cook is somewhat under the radar here. He ran a 4.43 at the Combine, has great size at 6’2”, 212 lbs., and showed in the Senior Bowl that he can cover anyone.
His speed could get him looked at sooner than this juncture. However, with Ghee running a 4.37 at the Combine, I expect someone cough*Al Davis*cough to make a play for him in lieu of Cook, which will benefit the Browns greatly.
Selection: Brandon LaFell - WR - LSU
Brandon LaFell is a manchild. He’s a dynamic playmaker who is quicker than he is fast, and he will make a welcome addition to the Cleveland receiving corps at this position.
Typically, a guy with LaFell’s talent would be going much higher than the third. However, with his lackluster Combine 4.59 40 and equally lackluster Pro Day 4.54 40, his stock is dropping...fast.
Per the last ranking I saw, he was sitting at No. 11 overall in WR rankings, whereas prior to the Combine and Pro Days he was sitting at No. 6.
Unfortunately for him, guys like Taylor Price (Ohio), Carlton Mitchell (USF), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati), and Andre Roberts (Citadel) all had great Combines and Pro Days. Each one of them clocked sub-4.5 40 times, while none were over 4.47, and that’s hurting LaFell’s stock.
Fear not though—Brandon LaFell is still as dynamic as they come. He’s got great size, at 6’3”, 211 lbs., and great hands, and he will be a HUGE asset to Cleveland.
I also can’t help but think that going this late is going to tick him off and that he’ll want to perform well to show everyone what they missed on.
Selection: Sam Young - OT - Notre Dame
Tony Pashos is a very pedestrian OL, and Holmgren and Heckert realize that shoring up the line is of critical importance.
At this juncture, since Ciron Black will be gone, the next best thing is Young. He’s monstrous in size at 6’8” and 315 lbs. He runs well, clocking a 5.09 40, and is incredibly strong, throwing 225 up a whopping 29 times.
Realistically, Sam Young projects as more of an OG than an OT, and he can play the right side as well as he does the left.
This move makes sense because he can come in and play immediately and be at least as good as what Cleveland currently has.
Selection: Darryl Sharpton - ILB - Miami
Darryl Sharpton is a solid ILB, and actually at this point in the draft he is one of the better players available.
He’s a bit undersized at 5’11”, 235. However, he’s a high-motor guy that can make all the plays that Cleveland would need him to.
He had an impressive career at Miami, particularly his senior season, when he finished with 106 tackles (65 solo, 41 assisted), 8.5 TFL, and one INT.
Although he ran on the slow side at the Combine, clocking in at 4.61, he still has the presence of mind and positioning to be able to make plays. All in all, a very solid Cleveland pickup.
Selection: Sergio Render - OG - Virginia Tech
Another depth selection, Cleveland brings in a versatile and talented young OL to insure that they’re well stocked for the future.
Render is a very good G and has good size for the interior line, coming in at 6’3”, 311. He has very good strength, pushing 225 lbs. 29 times at the Combine.
His speed is suspect, but on the interior of the OL, it’s not as important as it is on the outside.
Render is a two-time All-ACC selection and will likely be starter-ready in two seasons of play.
Selection: Seyi Ajirotutu - WR - Fresno State
The WR spot is still a huge concern, even after stealing Brandon LaFell.
At this juncture, the best available WR is Ajirotutu, who will provide much-needed depth and playmaking ability.
Ajirotutu was publicly lauded by Marty Schottenheimer at the Shrine Game and was compared by Marty to another selection that's panned out quite nicely...Mr. Vincent Jackson, who was selected by Marty in San Diego.
Great value and a nice pick this late.
Selection: Kade Weston - NT - Georgia
He had good numbers in his final season at Georgia, tallying 28 tackles, six TFL, and two sacks.
He doesn't translate as a starter, but he should be a solid reserve and situational pass rusher/run stuffer. He also has the ability to play DE, so that helps Cleveland's cause here too.
Good value this late as well.
Andre Dixon - RB - UConn
Even though he's been clean since his DUI, that has hurt his stock, and right now he is projected in the seventh and possibly undrafted. With his talent, I cannot see that happening; however, if it does, Cleveland should come calling.
Fendi Onobun - TE - Houston
There are some striking similarities between Onobun and Antonio Gates. He was a strong basketball player, and with a 37.5" vertical and 4.45 40, along with great size at 6'6" and weighing 252 lbs., his upward mobility is off the charts!
Levi Brown - QB - Troy
Great size and an absolute cannon for an arm, this guy could be a sneaky FA pickup. His measurables look nice—6'3", 228 lbs., decent speed—and 23 TDs and a 63.7 percent completion rate in his final season look appealing.
Matt Nichols - QB - Eastern Washington
A very good player, and very productive throughout his career, particularly his season in 2009, when he threw for 3,744 yards, 34 TDs, and nine INTs. The kid is smart—36 on the Wonderlic exam—and comes from a diverse background, playing in both pro-style and spread offenses.
Robert Vaughn - FS - UConn
He was able to put up some solid numbers his senior season, tallying 63 tackles, five INTs, and six passes defensed. His speed is concerning at 4.60 in the 40; however, his size is quality at 6'0", 192. He could be a solid FA signing.
Chris Chancellor - CB - Clemson
Solid speed at 4.43 and decent size at 5'10", 177 paired with an Honorable Mention All-ACC look good. My gut says he goes in the seventh. But if he ends up not being taken, Cleveland should pounce.