After a spirited exchange with a local Cleveland radio host, I decided there needs to be a definitive comparison of the prime targets to patrol the Cleveland Browns secondary and the top of the draft board with the number seven pick: Eric Berry and Earl Thomas.
Eric Berry, FS Tennessee 6'0" 211 lbs., 4.40 - 40, 43" vertical, 10'10" broad
2009 Thorpe Award Winner for College Footballs Best Defensive Back (2008 Thorpe finalist), All-American 1st team - unanimous (2008,2009)
83 tackles, 2 INT's, 0 TD's 2009
241 tackles, 14 INT's, 3 TD's career
Earl Thomas, CB Texas 5'10" 202 lbs., 4.37 - 40 (Pro Day), 9'5" broad
2009 Thorpe finalist, All-American 1st team
63 tackles, 8 INT's, 2 TD's 2009 season
143 tackles, 10 INT's, 2 TD's career
This is not to say Earl Thomas is not talented or that he should not be drafted high in the draft, but is he worthy of the seventh pick of the draft? Does he deserve to leapfrog Eric Berry?
As far as the collegiate accolades go, and they may mean little for the NFL, Berry is the hands down winner. A unanimous All-American (twice), two time Thorpe award finalist and eventual 2009 winner.
Thomas was a hawk during the 2009 season, accumulating interceptions like mad. He takes that comparison, but Berry wins in overall tackles and career statistics. Both are obvious playmakers.
Finally, as far as physical tools go, Berry has an advantage in height, weight and explosive leaping ability. They match up fairly evenly in their 40 times, with Thomas shedding six pounds between the Combine and his Pro Day and shaving his 40 time from 4.43 down to 4.37.
In conclusion, Berry is a consensus TOP five athlete and will only fall because of teams positional needs. Thomas started outside of the TOP 10 and has moved his way up draft boards with improving Pro Day numbers. However, Berry has been there and stayed there and is the superior choice for the Browns with the seventh pick, should he even remain on the board that long.