2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cleveland Browns Draft Take
The Browns will have a different look in 2011 as they switch back to the 4-3 defense. There are a lot of question marks on this team heading into next year, but the Browns may have finally found the quarterback of the present and future in Colt McCoy. He will head into next season as the starter.
McCoy played very well last year after being thrust into the lineup due to the injuries of Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. He will most likely be the starter next season, but he needs more receiving weapons for him to be more successful.
Peyton Hillis had an excellent season last year, as the Browns definitely got the better end of the trade that brought him to Cleveland for Brady Quinn. Montario Hardesty has a lot of potential, but he has a long injury history and there isn’t much depth behind him.
Mohamed Massaquoi is turning into a solid No. 2 receiver, but the Browns are still missing a true No. 1 receiver. The depth is suspect as well, and the Browns could look to add multiple receivers to the team this offseason.
Ben Watson had a great season last year, and he also emerged as a team leader. The left side of the line is one of the best in the NFL, while the right side is one of the worst.
Joe Thomas was a Pro Bowler at left tackle, and Eric Steinbach and Alex Mack were Pro Bowl alternates at left guard and center, respectively. Floyd Womack and John St. Clair form the right side of the line, and they could both be upgraded next season.
The Browns are switching to a new defense, and they don’t currently have the personnel to be effective on the defensive front. They will need two new starting defensive ends, as they don’t really have players who can effectively rush the passer from a four-man front.
Ahtyba Rubin will most likely get the nod at one defensive tackle spot, but the other is up in the air. The Browns will use multiple picks for the defensive line in this upcoming draft. The Browns have a solid group of linebackers, but it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the 4-3 defense.
Scott Fujita and D’Qwell Jackson will most likely get the start at outside linebacker. Marcus Bernard is the main backup, but he is better suited for the 3-4 defense. Chris Gocong will man the inside linebacker spot, but it’ll be interesting to see how the linebacker unit shapes up by the start of next season.
Joe Haden was great as a rookie at cornerback, and he’ll only continue to get better. Sheldon Brown and Eric Wright could compete for the starting spot, but someone else may be brought in.
T.J. Ward is another 2010 rookie who performed very well, and Abram Elam should be back at the strong safety spot after a solid 2010 season.
2010 Draft Recap
1. (7) CB Joe Haden, Florida: Haden played very well in his rookie season, as he looked every bit as good as he was advertised heading into the draft. 16 GP/ 7 GS
2. (38) S T.J. Ward, Oregon: Ward was the best rookie on the team last season, and he proved everybody wrong who felt that the Browns reached for him. 16 GP/ 16 GS
2. (59) RB Montario Hardesty, Tennessee: He didn’t play at all, as he suffered a season ending injury in the preseason. 0 GP/ 0 GS
3. (85) QB Colt McCoy, Texas: He played much earlier than anyone would’ve thought, but he played well and looks like the quarterback of the future. 8 GP/ 8 GS
3. (92) OG Shawn Lauvao, Arizona State: He didn’t get a whole lot of opportunities last season, but he should challenge for the starting position this season. 10 GP/ 1 GS
5. (160) S Larry Asante, Nebraska: Asante started the year on the Browns practice squad, but he ended up getting signed by the Buccaneers. 2 GP/ 0 GS
6. (177) WR Carlton Mitchell, South Florida: He made the team but he didn’t make much of an impact, despite the team’s shortcomings at wide receiver. 5 GP/ 0 GS
Summary: If Colt McCoy continues to grow into the starting quarterback role, then this can be considered a very successful draft.
The Browns also added two starters to their secondary, and hopefully Hardesty can make an impact next year coming back from his injury.
Team Need: Defensive End
Now that the Browns are switching back to a 4-3 defense, there isn’t really anybody on the current roster who could excel at the end position.
Most of the current defensive linemen are more suited towards playing in a three man front, so look for the Browns to add a pass rusher early.
They need to find pass rushers, and Kenyon Coleman and Robaire Smith are just not going to get it done.
A defensive end would be a very likely choice for the Browns in Round 1, especially if Da’Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn are still available.
Potential Defensive End Targets
Round One: Robert Quinn, Da’Quan Bowers
Round Two: Jabaal Sheard, Allen Bailey, Brooks Reed
Round Three: Jeremy Beal, Sam Acho, Greg Romeus
Round Four: Cliff Matthews, Pernell McPhee
Bowers and Quinn are going to be very strongly considered in Round 1, as they would instantly become the Browns’ top pass rusher.
This is even a position where I could see the Browns double dipping, as they could use an upgrade at both defensive end positions.
Team Need: Wide Receiver
The Browns really lack a true No. 1 receiver, and having one would really help Colt McCoy’s development. He needs somebody who he can rely on to be more effective as a passer.
Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi are decent second and third options, but neither one of them looks like they will ever be the go-to guy.
The Browns could use their first-rounder on a guy who would instantly become McCoy’s favorite target, but they may wait until Round 2 or 3 to address this issue.
Potential Wide Receiver Targets
Round One: A.J. Green, Julio Jones
Round Two: Jon Baldwin, Torrey Smith, Greg Little, Titus Young
Round Three: Vincent Brown, Niles Paul, Greg Salas, Randall Cobb
Round Four: Cecil Shorts, Edmund Gates, Austin Pettis
Round Five: DeAndre Brown, Ronald Johnson
If Green is still available when the Browns go on the clock in Round 1, I find it very difficult to see them passing on him.
However, I think guys like Baldwin and Smith in Round 2 have the potential to develop into No. 1 targets, but they won’t be right away.
Team Need: Defensive Tackle
Shaun Rogers and Kenyon Coleman have recently been released, so it leaves a spot open in the Browns switch to a 4-3 defense.
Ahtyba Rubin will most likely have one spot locked down, as he had an excellent season last year. Yet, the other spot is still unsettled, and the Browns could consider taking an impact tackle early on in the draft this year.
This is another position that the Browns will consider strongly with their first-round pick, and they will probably have at least one viable option available to them.
Potential Defensive Tackle Targets
Round One: Marcel Dareus, Nick Fairley
Round Two: Marvin Austin, Jurrell Casey, Drake Nevis, Christian Ballard, Stephen Paea
Round Three: Jarvis Jenkins, Terrell McClain
Round Four: Cedric Thornton, Jerrell Powe
Dareus or Fairley will be highly considered in the first round, but I think that both defensive end and wide receiver are bigger needs.
Ballard or Nevis would be second-round guys who could still make a very big impact in their rookie seasons.
Team Need: Offensive Tackle
Joe Thomas is arguably the best left tackle currently in the NFL, but the right side is an entirely different story.
John St. Clair just isn’t getting it done for the Browns at the right tackle position, and I’d be shocked if they didn’t find an upgrade this offseason.
The Browns can look for a tackle in the mid rounds that can come in and contribute right away in 2011.
The Browns most likely won’t use a first or second rounder on this position, but I expect them to take a tackle within the first four rounds of the draft.
Potential Offensive Tackle Targets
Round Two: James Brewer, Marcus Cannon
Round Three: Orlando Franklin, Marcus Gilbert, Lee Ziemba, James Carpenter
Round Four: Chris Hairston, Joe Barksdale, DeMarcus Love, Jason Pinkston
The Browns can wait until the middle rounds and still get a quality right tackle.
Ziemba or Barksdale in round three or four would be great fits on the right side, and I think that they could challenge for the starting spot right away in 2011.
Team Need: Cornerback
Joe Haden looks like a future Pro Bowler at cornerback and he has one spot locked down for the next decade or so. The other side has some questions, and the depth isn’t exactly great.
Sheldon Brown and Eric Wright would make adequate starters, but the Browns could try to improve the position opposite Haden.
Even if the Browns don’t use a high pick on a corner, they could pick one up in the mid to late rounds to help improve the overall depth of the position.
Potential Cornerback Targets
Round Two: Aaron Williams, Brandon Burton, Curtis Brown, Ras-I Dowling, Johnny Patrick
Round Three: Jalil Brown, Davon House, Kendric Burney, Rashad Carmichael
Round Four: Chimdi Chekwa, Shareece Wright
Round Five: Chykie Brown, Buster Skrine, DeMarcus Van Dyke
The Browns will more than likely wait until the mid to late rounds to improve this position. They can pick up either Chekwa or Wright in Round 4 to improve the nickel or dime position for the 2011 season, while developing into starters over the next couple of years.
Other Possible Needs
Offensive Guard: The Browns could do better than Floyd Womack at right guard, but they may have more pressing needs in the draft.
Safety: The starters are solid, but the Browns aren’t very deep at this position, so they could look to add a safety later in the draft.
Running Back: Peyton Hillis emerged as a feature back last year, but the depth behind him is questionable, as they don’t really know what they have yet in Montario Hardesty.
Team Draft Strategy
With the Browns switching back to a 4-3 defense, they will put a huge emphasis in this draft on trying to find defensive players who fit that scheme best.
They have glaring needs at a few positions, but they have some pretty good talent for a team that went 5-11 last season.
The defensive line is the biggest concern, and I expect them to take multiple defensive linemen throughout this draft.
The continued development of Colt McCoy is a main emphasis for this team heading into next season. They need to protect him as best as possible, and they also need to surround him with weapons that will help him succeed.
So while the defense is a main concern in this draft, look for the Browns to also draft an offensive tackle and wide receiver within the first four rounds of the upcoming draft.