NFL Draft 2011, Round 3: 3 Names the Cleveland Browns Should Get To Know
With two rounds in the books and the team in much need of difference-makers, the Browns will find plenty of talent at the top portion of Round 3.
This happens to be my favorite round of the draft. Yes, the first stanza carries with it the most excitement, the most hope, etc. But the third round is where players who have managed to slip through the first two rounds tend to be swallowed up.
Last year, the Browns were able to play their cards and wait to grab eventual starter at quarterback in Colt McCoy, but also right guard Shawn Lauvao—who I believe is the long-term starter at the position and would have had a more key roll last year if not for the high ankle bug that slaughtered the offense.
Here are the three guys you need to know about for Round 3.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
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This may be a surprise pick, but I don't think it would be a wasted pick even though the Browns already have Montario Hardesty.
Currently, there is no legitimate back behind Peyton Hillis. Hardesty missed all of last year with a knee injury and also had a banged up collegiate career. Mike Bell will only make the final roster if the Browns do not draft another player at the position.
Murray was extremely productive in college, rushing for more than 3,600 yards and 50 touchdowns. He was also an excellent threat catching the football, as he wrangled in 71 balls in his senior season alone. His stature—6'0"—and speed—4.37 40—make him very attractive.
The downside on Murray, however, is the punishment he took while at OU. He often played banged up and did not rush for 100 yards in his last nine games.
He would best be used as the second guy in a running back rotation, something the Browns need to have sorted out this season.
Bruce Carter, OLB, UNC
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What does 6'2", 240 lbs, of angry with 4.5-speed look like? It looks like Bruce Carter.
If you have yet to watch him play, do yourself a favor and find a replay of the UNC-LSU season opener. Watch the Tar Heels play without him in the beginning of the game and then watch him tear heads off of bodies when he joins the fray late in the first quarter.
In his first year in Carolina, Carter blocked five kicks and was all over the field. In his sophomore season, he had his best statistical year with 68 tackles, 11 for loss and five sacks. The following year, teams got smart and started running plays away from his direction, but he was still able to amass 65 stops, 7.5 for loss and a pair of sacks.
As Bruce was well on his way to being a Butkus Award finalist, he tore his ACL against NC State in the season's second-to-last game. His surgery took place in December of 2010 and he's more than halfway through his rehab. If not for the injury, some scouts maintained that he would have been a middle-first round selection.
Although his stock has fallen due to injury, the value in the third may be too good to pass up. He definitely gets my nod with the Browns' pick, but he may also end up being available in Round 4.
Greg Little, WR, UNC
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Little is a receiver turned tailback, turned back to wide receiver, turned back to tailback, who moved to wide receiver after Brandon Tate tore his ACL against Notre Dame in 2008.
At roughly 6'2.5", Little has great speed for a guy his size, running his combine 40 at 4.5 seconds. He also has the upper-body strength to fight off press coverage, get open and catch passes in traffic.
The biggest knock on Little is his "character," for lack of a better term. He did not see the field last year as most of UNC's starters missed time for attending an agent party in Florida. It could have been a campaign year for Little, but instead, his stock has slipped considerably.
If the Browns have yet to take a wide receiver, there would be little risk here with Greg Little. He's a very talented and explosive player who can get open, catch the ball and make plays with it in his hands.
Whether he could develop into a true No. 1 pass-catcher is unknown, but having carried the ball north of 150 times in college tells me he is gritty and tough enough to stick his nose in a fracas and make some blocks in the West Coast system.
Bonus Pick: Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon State
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Matthews is going to be attractive in the eyes of Cleveland fans because his father shined while he wore the Orange and Brown 20 years ago—and the fact that the Browns passed on his older brother, Clay.
Everything about watching him play says "gamer," however, everything about him on paper says that he is undersized and too slow. He stands less than his listed 6'1" and his 4.79 seconds 40-time doesn't scream sideline-to-sideline enforcer. As far as the measurable stats go, he's too small to play inside and too slow to play outside.
What I did like about seeing him on film is how he handled himself in big games, especially the BCS National Championship. He is rarely fooled or out of position, and that makes up for one of his glaring weaknesses—speed. He is a very intelligent player and diagnosis plays quickly, always seeming to be at the right place at the right time.
If it takes a Matthews for Cleveland to be winners again, I'm buying.