With these speculations, which will not have any true answers until the regular season begins, comes the second-guessing of drafts picks too.
One year ago, there was the second guessing of the Browns passing up on defensive players like Clay Matthews III, Rey Maualuga, and James Laurinaitis.
This year, the biggest pick to second guess on is the choice of selecting safety T.J. Ward over safety Taylor Mays in the second round.
Many draft experts and analysts have already written how the Browns reached for Ward at the top of the second round, since he was projected to be a third or even fourth-round pick.
Ward was taken 11 spots before Mays and most thought that Mays would drop out of the first round into the second anyway, but many did not see the backlash that was Mays going after his former USC coach Pete Carroll of the Seahawks for passing up on him.
This helps explain why he fell into the second. He obviously has to work on maturity, which makes the Browns passing on Mays a bit more understandable.
Ward though, was an out of left field pick for the Browns, since either they did reach for a safety since they needed to fill a need high in the draft and their other target were gone or they just really saw something special in Ward that they could not risk to lose out on him entirely by waiting until the third round.
Either way you look at the Ward pick, in Browns fans' eyes, he will be compared to Mays for many more years.
Tale of the Tape—Measurables
Looking at the tale of the tape, Mays stands far above Ward at 6'3" 230 pounds versus Ward's 5'10" 211 pounds according the to official NFL combine measurements.
Mays also ran a faster 40-yard dash time with a 4.43, while Ward had the slower 4.54.
And Mays also bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times against Ward's 19 times.
Now these are only numbers from the "Spandex Olympics," but they are still a basis for comparison with these two athletes.
According to NFL.com reports, Ward is versatile to play either safety of cornerback in the NFL and he is a very smart player who can read the quarterback's eyes to anticipate throws while also being a very good tackler and solid in run support.
Mays is an elite overall athlete who can cover a ton of ground fast and is an ideal center fielder in the NFL. He also hits hard and is versatile to rush the passer along with having the ability to play in other areas of the field too.
Ward biggest weakness is the question of durability after having two knee surgeries. He also lacks the size to be an effective free safety (but remember experts said the same thing about Troy Polamalu too) and he is not explosive enough to be a true center fielder in the NFL.
Mays has sloppy technique and prefers to make the big hits over going after the football to create turnovers. He is also overly-aggressive and may lack a true passion for the game, which is a direct sign of having possible maturity issues.
Ward had 180 total tackles, one sack, six forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
Mays had 268 total tackles, one forced fumble, and five interceptions.
Of course the final decision for the Browns to take Ward over Mays will be determined over the next few years while both players play the game of football for their respective teams, but after reviewing these various comparisons the Browns wanted a player who was smart, mature, versatile, and aggressive.
Ward fits these attributes overall much better than Mays does.
Mays might make a bigger impact in his rookie season than Ward, due to his freakish natural abilities, but Ward may come out of this debate on top in the long-term.
We will have to be patient and watch as times goes on to see if the Browns did indeed choose wisely.
(Article also posted on Dawg Scooper: THE Cleveland Browns Blog.)