The Cleveland Browns have been one of the most interesting teams to follow during the free agent period. From the relatively celebrated signings of tight end Ben Watson and linebacker Scott Fujita to the almost universally questionable acquisition of ex-Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme, they have certainly made things interesting.
They signed free agent offensive lineman Tony Pashos, traded for quarterback Seneca Wallace and made a big splash by acquiring cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong from the Philadelphia Eagles. Lest I forget, they received fullback Peyton Hillis as part of a deal with Denver.
At the same time they said good bye to linebacker Kameron Wimbley via trade with the Raiders, and cut quarterback Derek Anderson. Brady Quinn was traded for Hillis and two draft picks. They also cut offensive lineman Hank Fraley and veteran tight end Steve Heiden. Linebacker Alex Hall was traded in the Gocong deal.
When all was said and done many holes remain. The Browns need a starting safety or cornerback depending on their plans with Brown. They need defensive line depth, especially after Shaun "Six Gun" Rogers tried to take the wrong bag on the wrong plane. Despite the signing of Pashos the Browns still need an offensive lineman, either at right guard or right tackle. Wide receiver is a position in need of a legitimate number one and a speed guy to stretch the defenses.
Keeping this in mind I offer you my predictions for the first five Browns' picks in the NFL draft.
Selection #7: Earl Thomas (5'10" 197) Safety University of Texas
Considered the most instinctive ballhawk in the draft. He had eight interceptions in 2009 and returned two for touchdowns. Ran a blazing 4.37 at his pro-day. Physical, big hitter in run support. Can play either safety spot and is perfect for the Browns because many believe he can also play cornerback, which would allow Sheldon Brown to move to safety. It's this versatility that gives him the nod over Eric Berry who is more of a traditional safety.
Selection #38: Brian Price (6'2" 305) Defensive Tackle UCLA
PAC-10 Defensive player of the year. One of the quickest lineman in the draft. Excellent athlete, chases plays down from behind. A true pocket collapser. Played fullback in goalline situations. Excellent insurance for an aging line with a legal question mark. Tends to overpursue at times.
Selection #71: Taylor Price (6'0" 204) Wide Receiver Ohio
Good height and solidly built. Ran a 4.41 40. Excellent acceleration and burst. Terrific leaper and durable. Mature and not afraid to go over the middle. Good field awareness and has upside. Needs work on his hands. Not very shifty.
Selection #85: Jerome Murphy (6'0" 196) Cornerback South Florida
Ideal height and size and is an excellent athlete. Ran a 4.52 40 so not a burner but has good acceleration and burst. Fluid hips and soft hands with excellent leaping ability, he is also a willing tackler and is decent against the run. Takes to many gambles and has some minor character concerns. Holmgren adds much needed depth to a decimated secondary.
Selection #92: Selvish Capers (6'4" 295) Offensive Tackle West Virginia
Athletic tackle who converted from tight end. Excellent lateral movement and a dominant run blocker. Has cut blocking experience and is fluent in the screen game. Athletic enough to also play guard. Not instinctive and needs a lot of work in the passing game. Needs to finish more blocks. Has a lot of upside.
I know, I know! where's the quarterback? I could not figure out how to practically factor in trades so this is my draft if the Browns stand pat. If they stand pat through three rounds, I think Mike Kafka of Northwestern will become the Browns quarterback of the future via trade in the fourth round.
From a real world standpoint I believe the Browns will trade up into either the late first round or early second round and take either McCoy or Tebow. I am not sure if they have the guts to pull off the swap for Sam Bradford and I can't believe they would select Clausen and risk alienating the fan base. When and if they trade up, these picks become null and void but it was a very interesting exercise.