2011 NFL Draft Recap: Cleveland Browns Building a Playoff Team Through the Draft

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2011 NFL Draft Recap: Cleveland Browns Building a Playoff Team Through the Draft
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Every year, the worst teams in the league get a high draft pick and typically draft a future star, hoping that the player will single-handedly lead the team to the next level.

In Cleveland, Mike Holmgren realized that his first-round pick could get him more than just one star player.

Maybe the pick could bring two stars to Cleveland.

To break down the deal, the Browns traded their sixth overall pick (Julio Jones) to the Atlanta Falcons for the 27th overall pick (traded back up to 21 and got Phil Taylor), the 59th overall pick (Greg Little), the 124th overall pick (Owen Marecic), a first-rounder next year and a fourth-rounder next year.

Julio Jones better be the second coming for the Falcons if that trade is to be justified in Atlanta.

The Browns were able to provide Colt McCoy with a big-bodied weapon in Greg Little and replace Shaun Rogers after releasing the nose tackle with Phil Taylor.

Little's draft stock took a tumble when his questionable off-the-field behavior produced concerns, but he is undoubtedly talented and will be a difference-maker in Cleveland.

In Pat Shurmur's offense, having a big target like Little (ironic last name) will help the Browns push the ball down the field.

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On the other side of the ball, Taylor, the beefy lineman from Baylor, was rated by many, including NFL Network's Mike Mayock, as the best 3-4 nose tackle in the draft.

After ridding themselves of Shaun Rogers, the Browns needed a run-stopping presence in the middle of the defense.

Not only did they acquire Taylor in the draft, but the Browns got another defensive lineman who will provide an immediate impact for the franchise.

The Browns used their original second-rounder to grab Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard.

Sheard figures to provide a presence in the trenches for Cleveland—next to Phil Taylor, the Browns will boast a young and talented defensive line that should help to subdue the feared rushing attacks of the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

Some have hotly debated whether or not Colt McCoy can lead the Browns to a divisional title, but if the Browns surround McCoy with a fantastic amount of talent, then look for the Browns to contend soon.

Don't forget, either, about the extra picks in 2012.

Having two first-round picks in 2012 will be key, as another team that had two first-rounders this year (New Orleans, even though one of the first-rounders was traded for on draft day) was able to infuse their team with solid young talent in Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram.

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

While we may not know exactly how the records will fall, it is presumable that the Browns will have a high pick (their own) and a late pick (Atlanta's).

The Browns would have a fantastic opportunity to find two young pieces to add to the puzzle, one of whom could be a true impact player.

Cleveland really benefited from this draft and acquired some players with very high ceilings in Jordan Cameron and Buster Skrine, among others.

With a true leader at the helm in Colt McCoy, a burgeoning offensive mind in Pat Shurmur entrenched as the head coach, a hardened football guru as president in Mike Holmgren and young talent all around, the Browns are really on the right track.

The pieces are in place for the Browns to rebuild this franchise.

With Mike Holmgren steering the ship, Cleveland fans should sit back and enjoy smooth sailing.

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