Since taking over the front office, Mike Holmgren has made a series of moves to shuffle up the roster, but he has yet to make the big splash many had expected. He's signed a series of solid veterans including LB Scott Fujita, TE Ben Watson, OT Tony Pashos, and QB Jake Delhomme. He's made several highly scrutinized trades(not the least of which Brady Quinn to Denver). Yet, none of these moves have possessed the granduer that seemed to be expected with his taking over the team.
All along, Holmgren has stated that he believes in building a team through the draft, as opposed to free agency. If you dissect all the moves, they've been made in order to A.) Aqcuire more draft picks while unloading subpar talent, or B.) Fill smaller holes to gain the freedom to draft the best players available. If you step back, you can see it all coming to a fulcrum. Holmgren has been waiting patiently to make his "big splash" in the draft. So this is my final round by round analysis of what I think his big plan in the 2010 Draft will entail.
Round One: Holmgren Makes His Big Splash By Trading Up for the No. 1 Pick and Drafts Oklahoma Quarterback Sam Bradford
A week ago I would have thought this idea to be absurd. But the more I examine the situation, the more this makes sense. The Browns have long been a Quarterback-starved franchise. When coming to Cleveland, Holmgren brought with him the huge expectations of turning it all around. This move would send the message that he's here to win.
In listening to analysts dissect this possibility, the question hasn't been whether or not the Rams would be willing to part with the number 1 pick, but if the Browns would be willing to make it worth their while. I think the Browns trade the number 7 pick this year, and their first round pick next year. This deal could also have some other possible additions that I'll get into later in this article. I'm not even sure that I agree with this move, but it seems to me that Holmgren deeply covets Bradford, and has been waiting to make the move that will put his stamp on this franchise.
Round Two: The Browns Take The Best Player Available And Fill A Need at the Same Time by Drafting Florida Defensive End Carlos Dunlap
I'm probably gonna take some heat for this one. Everyone would expect the Browns to go with Safety Nate Allen with this pick. That seems to be their biggest hole. I would contend that after the first round, the talent pool for the Safety position is somewhat muddled. They would be just as well off waiting for the third round to fill their secondary needs. Dunlap is a much better football player than Allen and should be available at this point because of some minor off-the-field problems(DUI). This would also give the Browns the most value for their pick, and a force to be reckoned with on the interior of the defensive line. Another possibility here could be UCLA's Brian Price.
Round Three: The Browns Use Round Three To Fill The Remaining Voids On their Roster
This is where things will get complicated. It's become obvious to me that D'Qwell Jackson is not in the Browns future plans. It seems to me that neither Holmgren or Mangini like him much. I think they hoped someone would sign him for a second round pick, but there have been no takers. I think that on draft day, they'll settle for a third round pick for him. Possible takers? The Eagles, the Jets, the Seahawks, or the Rams. The first three on that list are because of previous relationships with our front office and coaching staff. I think it's possible that the Browns may send Jackson to the Rams as part of the first round trade. The trade would then look like this: the Browns get the Rams Number 1 pick and third round pick. The Rams get the browns number 7 pick, next years first round pick, and D'Qwell Jackson. That would give us four third round picks.
I'm gonna throw out some names, but really, these are shots in the dark. At this point in the draft the Browns will be drafting for need, so pay more attention to the positions than the actual names. These are not necessarily in any particular order.
Alabama Offensive Guard Mike Johnson: Since Holmgren traded up for Bradford, he's gonna want to protect him. The Browns are one piece away from a very solid offensive line. Johnson is a tough, smart player who played against the strongest competition in college. Other possibilities at this position would be UMass's Vladmir Ducasse or Utah's Zane Beadles.
Texas Wide Receiver Jordan Shipley: The Browns have a glaring hole at this position. They will certainly address it in the 3rd round. Shipley is quick, fearless, a polished route runner, and has great hands. He's an excellent team player and would fit great here. Really though, they could draft any number of different receivers here. There's no way of predicting which one. Some other possibilities could be: Minnesota's Eric Decker, Ohio's Taylor Price, or LSU's Brandon Lafell among others.
Virginia Cornerback Chris Cook: The intriguing thing with Cook is that he has the size/speed combo to possibly transition to safety, which is a big need for the Browns. He may be a little bit of a project, but with the rumors of Sheldon Brown possibly playing safety as well, this would give the secondary tons of flexibility. Another possibility here would be Wake Forest's Brandon Ghee.
Virginia Tech Safety Kam Chancellor: Chancellor is a big, punishing Safety. He's a feel-good story and a leader on and off the field. His only knock is speed. He's clocked at 4.6 in the 40. Chancellor also played Corner at Va Tech, so; if they drafted both Cook and Chancellor in the third round, combined with Sheldon Brown, this would give the secondary a ridiculous amount of flexibility(which we all know Mangini loves). Other possibilities here could be LSU's Chad Jones or Florida State's Myron Rolle. Yet another possibility is that the Browns look at Running Back with this pick. Possible names to look out for could be: Tennessee's Montario Hardesty, Auburn's Ben Tate, or Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon.
Rounds Five and Six: Browns Use the Late Rounds to Add Depth at Key Positions
I'm not going to even pretend to have any clue who the Browns might draft in the late rounds. It will probably have a lot to do with what positions they fill in the earlier rounds. I'll only make a few qualified predictions:
If they don't draft a RB in Round Three, they will in Round Five. Possibilities:Oregon's LaGarrette Blount and USC's Stafon Johnson. Of the two, I really like Johnson. He's a good all-around runner and teammate. With his comeback from a near-death weightlifting accident, he's the kind of guy you wanna root for.
My only other prediction is that the Browns will draft for more line depth, but that's a no-brain prediction in the late rounds of the draft for any team. Another possibility is that the Browns will use a couple of their late-round picks in a trade, but this is also a no-brained prediction.
I'm sure many will take issue with these predictions, but it seems to me that the momentum has been building in this direction for a while. I could be completely wrong, but one thing I'm sure of: Mike Holmgren is going to use this draft to put HIS stamp on this franchise.