Cleveland Browns: Ultimate 2011 NFL Draft Strategy
It's officially draft season, kids. Time to neglect unimportant things like shoveling the driveway or doing your taxes and focus on the important things, like your draft board and ridiculous draft day scenarios that will probably never happen.
I generally try to stick with more realistic scenarios and try to avoid predicting trades and other unknowable variables, but I thought it might be fun to try and be a bit more optimistic for a change.
This is my ultimate strategy guide for the upcoming draft and it may or may not be entirely realistic, but it's my fantasy darn it, so don't pee in my Cheerios please. Enjoy.
First Round, Pick Six: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska and Trade His Draft Rights
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Don't get too excited, we're gonna trade this one away.
See, I think Amukamara holds the key to the entire draft. There are several teams drafting after the Browns who are in desperate need of a shutdown cornerback. After Amukamara, the class gets very thin at the position.
Dallas, Houston and Detroit are all teams that could be desperate enough to trade up for him. Dallas might not trade up just because they may believe he'll still be available when they draft with the ninth pick.
The emergence of Jimmy Smith may also counterfeit some of the strength of the Browns position in this scenario. So instead of trying to trade the pick, I think the Browns should just go ahead and draft Amukamara to strengthen their bargaining position.
For the sake of my scenario, I'm gonna say that the Browns trade with the Houston Texans.
The Browns will trade the rights to Prince Amukamara and their fifth-round pick, along with one of their sixth-round picks for Houston's 11th pick, along with their second- and fourth-round picks.
First Round, Pick 11 (From Houston): Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
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The switch to the 4-3 defense will leave the Browns with a gaping hole at defensive end. Clayborn is big and athletic enough to help fill that hole.
There has been some concern that his numbers went down this past season, but one need only look at the numbers of the other members of Iowa's defensive line to realize the impact that Clayborn has.
Christian Ballard had an unbelievably great season and is now getting second-round draft consideration because of the extra attention that Clayborn demanded from opposing blockers this past season.
Clayborn is also big enough to hold his ground in the run game, unlike some of the other more athletic defensive ends in this draft.
Second Round, Pick 38: Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State
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The Browns have been struggling to find an answer at right tackle for several years now. Sherrod could develop into an excellent one.
Sherrod is somewhat limited athletically, but has excellent length and footwork. He's very technically sound and has excellent awareness.
Those traits should allow him to compete for a starting role right away. This pick should solidify the offensive line for the foreseeable future.
Second Round, Pick 43 (From Houston): Leonard Hankerson, WR Miami
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Hankerson was once thought of as a borderline fourth-round choice, but has recently been shooting up draft boards after an excellent showing in the Senior Bowl.
He had an excellent senior year with Miami, but there were questions about his overall upside.
Hankerson has excellent hands, route-running savvy and an ability to consistently create separation.
He has average size and speed, but has shown an ability to produce due to his technical skill. He probably won't end up being Randy Moss, but he should be a solid producer and someone who can be counted on to make a big catch.
Round Three, Pick 70: Mason Foster, LB Washington
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Foster was a monster producer at Washington. Of course, some of that may be due to being the only real good player on a weak defense.
He tallied 161 tackles last season, so he's obviously a very sure tackler. He has excellent instincts and always finds the ball.
He's also a playmaker, creating 11 turnovers over the past two seasons. His 6.5 sacks aren't a huge number, but he does have some upside as a pass-rusher.
Foster is just an all-around player. He isn't an elite athlete, but he has elite instincts and would probably be ready to start on the weak-side immediately.
Fourth Round, Pick 102: Kendrick Ellis, DT Hampton
Sorry guys, I searched high and low for a photo of this guy and came up empty. How about a description instead?
He's a 6'4" 335-pound monster with a quick first step and tons of upper body strength. He may remind some of a raw Shaun Rogers.
He was the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, but missed a couple games in 2010 with minor injuries.
Ellis still needs a little development, but could allow the Browns to part ways with Shaun Rogers. In a year or two, he could team up with Ahtyba Rubin to form a very, very cloggy interior line.
Fourth Round, Pick 107 (From Houston): Jacquizz Rogers, RB Oregon State
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The Browns have a great back in Peyton Hillis, but had a serious lack of depth behind him last season. Last year's second-round pick, Montario Hardesty, should be back this year, lord willin' and the crick don't rise, but the Browns still have a need for a third-down type back who can catch the ball out of the backfield and make a big play.
Rogers fits that bill perfectly. He's small, but extremely shifty. He may put you in mind of Dexter McCluster or Darren Sproles. He has super-quick lateral movement and can make things happen in the open-field.
He would make an excellent complement to the more punishing styles of Hillis and Hardesty and would give the Browns a home run threat coming out of the backfield.
Sixth Round, Pick 166: Kevin Rutland, CB Missouri
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Rutland is a very natural cover corner with decent size and very good speed. He isn't a very good tackler though.
He was a two-year captain, and if he's still available at this point, he would make a very good project as a possible corner for the future.
He's the type of guy who would make a good nickelback starting out.