Comings and Goings
The Cleveland Browns have been one of the busiest teams in the NFL this offseason for better or worse.
From quality signings like tight end Ben Watson and linebacker Scott Fujita to the questionable two-year gift to ex-Panther Jake Delhomme, who was coming off a woeful two-year stretch, they have consistently made news.
They completely blew up the quarterback position by cutting Derek Anderson and trading Brady Quinn and acquiring promising Seneca Wallace from Seattle and signing Delhomme. Brett Ratliff returns, presumably as the third QB.
Quinn was traded almost immediately after the Delhomme signing to the Denver Broncos for a promising running back, Peyton Hillis, and two draft picks.
Linebacker Kameron Wimbley, considered by many the second-best player on the defense was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick. Corey Williams was traded to the Lions for a fifth-round pick. Reliable offensive lineman Hank Fraley was released, as was veteran tight end Steve Heiden.
Tony Pashos, an offensive lineman only known by immediate members of his family, was signed to three-year, $10 million contract to shore up the right side of the line after playing in three games last year. Eric Ghiachiuc, a former starter from the Bengals, and Billy Yates, a backup tackle, were signed for offensive-line depth.
They took a calculated gamble with safety Brodney Pool and did not tender him, therefore making him an unrestricted free agent. The gamble backfired when he signed with the New York Jets.
The Browns put second-round tenders on six players: Jerome Harrison, Lawrence Vickers, Abe Elam, Matt Roth, Jason Trusnik, and D'Qwell Jackson.
Trusnik signed his tender, and the rights to the other five reverted to the Browns when no one signed them by April 15.
Defensive tackle Shaun "Six Gun" Rogers was arrested for gun possesion and running back Chris Jennings for assault. Both will likely face punishment from the league which may include suspensions further weakening the club.
Finally, the Browns obtained pro bowl cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong for two draft picks and linebacker Alex Hall.
When all was said and done, the Browns have the following needs going into Thursday's draft: defensive secondary, offensive line, defensive line, wide receiver, and quarterback. More than likely there will be trades, both up and down, but I am going to approach this as a straight mock pick for pick.
I will retain the first five picks from my three-round mock, but introduce five picks to complete the seven rounds.
Selection No. 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 No. 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 goal line situations. Excellent insurance for an aging line with a legal question mark. Tends to overpursue at times. Price provides insurance behind Rogers.
Selection No. 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.
Price had 56 catches and five touchdowns in a run-oriented offense last year. Price is the speed receiver Holmgren has been looking for.
Selection No. 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. He has fluid hips and soft hands with excellent leaping ability, and is also a willing tackler and is decent against the run.
Takes too many gambles and has some minor character concerns. Holmgren adds much needed depth to a decimated secondary.
Selection No. 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. Potential right guard candidate.
Selection No. 134: John Skelton (6'5", 243), Quarterback, Fordham
Absolute physical beast, who is surprisingly mobile. Was a star high school shortstop. Has a cannon for an arm which is a great fit for Cleveland's cold, windy stadium. Gets the ball out quickly and can make every type of NFL throw. 64% accuracy in 2009. Needs work under center and reading defenses.
Ran a 4.8 40 and had a 33-inch vertical, which are good numbers for a man his size. Has the physical tools, but will need to put in the work.
Skelton had 69 career touchdown passes and 36 interceptions.
Selection No. 146: Major Wright (6'0", 206), Free Safety, Florida
Good size and speed, ran a 4.44 40, has decent burst and good range. Is an extremely physical safety who does a great job against the run and is a knock-out hitter. Has decent hands and ball skills. Lots of big game experience. Secondary depth.
Too aggressive at times. Not overly athletic and is somewhat stiff.
Had eight career interceptions. Was actually benched for a freshman last year.
Selection No. 160: Joe Webb (6'3", 223), Wide Receiver, UAB
Webb was a two-year starter at quarterback, but played wide receiver for UAB in 2007. At his pro day, he ran a 4.44 40, had a vertical of 42 1/2 inches, and an 11-foot, 5-inch broad jump.
For reference, Detroit Lion Calvin Johnson, who had one of the best pro days in recent memory, had a vertical of 42 1/2 inches and a broad jump of 11 feet, 7 inches.
As a quarterback, Webb rushed for over a 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and looked smooth catching the ball at his pro day.
At this point of the draft, and with the success of slash type players like Josh Cribbs and Percy Harvin, Webb is definitely worth a gamble. Could be a huge find.
Selection No. 177: Mike Neal (6'3", 294), Defensive Tackle/End, Purdue
Neal is a terrific athlete with good size and excellent strength. He is quick and agile and maintains good balance and leverage. Can penetrate and make plays in the backfield. Is an above average pass rusher from the tackle position. Is projected to have the agility to play end in the 3-4 and provide pass rush.
Doesn't always get off blocks. Tends to take plays off and has durability concerns.
Had 11.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in 2009. More depth behind Robaire Smith and Kenyon Coleman.
Selection No. 186: Anthony Dixon (6'1", 233), Running Back Mississippi State
A steal this late. A slow 40 time has dropped his stock. 4.65 40. He is a power back who is quick and is a north-south runner. He is powerfully built and is a capable receiver. An effective blocker, he can handle a heavy workload when called upon. Could be great complement to Jerome Harrison.
He is not overly elusive, runs too high, and struggles with his weight. Had a DUI in college and has some character concerns, which also contributed to his drop in the draft. Small risk for a potential big reward for the Browns. Insurance for Chris Jennings
From a practical standpoint, I do not envision the Browns waiting until the fourth round to select a quarterback prospect. In all likelihood, they will probably trade up into either the early second round or late first and select Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow.
Once they do this, their draft board will change significantly, as will the way they value their needs. As there is no way to accurately forecast this, I will stand pat with my picks. If you are interested in possible trade scenarios please see:2010 NFL Draft: What Will the Cleveland Browns Do at #7 If Eric Berry is Gone?
On virtually every selection, I had to delete at least two names before I decided upon my final choice.
The Browns need so much help at so many positions, and this draft is so critical to them returning to national prominence that I was terrified of making the wrong call even in the later rounds.
And this is only a mock draft! I can't begin to imagine what Heckert, Holmgren, and crew are going through right now.
In the end, the Browns drafted two safeties, two defensive linemen, two wide receivers, one quarterback, one cornerback, one offensive tackle, and one running back.
If you are interested in the Eric Berry vs Earl Thomas debate you may be interested in:2010 NFL Draft: Breaking Down Eric Berry and Earl Thomas for the Browns
I can't wait to see what the Browns do come Thursday. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the draft!