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Cleveland Browns 2011 Draft: A "Fairley" Good Read from Tom Heckert's History

PHILADELPHIA - 2009:  Tom Heckert of the Philadelphia Eagles poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
NFL Photos/Getty Images
Chris MarkochContributor IIApril 20, 2011

The buzz surrounding who the Cleveland Browns will draft with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft is reaching a fever pitch. In about eight days, we'll know if GM Tom Heckert (supposedly) did well or (supposedly) did not.

That may sound like an odd way to start a draft article, but let's face facts: If I knew who the Browns will draft, I'd have a different gig.

Still, assuming that Heckert is not going to call me in the next few days, I can only speculate about who the Browns might draft based on his past history.

This team has plenty of needs and there are a number of "best at their position" players who might be available at number six.

With Philadelphia the tandem of Heckert and Andy Reid had a history of drafting what I might term impact players of need. You saw a lot of players who they were expecting to contribute right away, including drafting Jeremy Maclin in 2010.

So that would seem to argue for A.J. Green or Julio Jones? I'm not so sure. Keep in mind that in Philadelphia, Heckert was always drafting late in the first round, so picking Maclin came with different expectations. The risk was different because the need was different.

You can also see that Heckert liked to use the first pick on a defensive tackle, such as Mike Patterson (2004), Broderick Bunkley (2005) and Trevor Laws (2008).

So this argues for one of the defensive tackles? Possibly. But then there's Lito Sheppard (2002) and Joe Haden (2011), which makes you think Patrick Peterson is at least on the radar.

Does your head hurt yet? In the end, I'm thinking that the Browns are going defense. I don't know how Green or Jones translate in Pat Shurmur's offense. I do know that even on playoff-caliber teams, they take a while to develop.

Second, a stout defense is a prerequisite to winning the AFC North. Right now, the front seven seems to be the most pressing concern.

I don't think they reach for North Carolina DE/OLB Robert Quinn. I'm thinking it's Auburn DT Nick Fairley and has been for awhile.

Now tell me why I'm right or wrong.

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