It’s clear that the Browns were winners from the 2011 NFL Draft. They traded down from the sixth overall pick and gained pick 27, a second rounder, fourth rounder, as well as 2012 first and fourth round picks.
The Browns had two players in mind at pick six and if neither were there, they planned to trade down, and stockpile picks. They did that, and it did not disappoint many fans, if any at all.
Grabbing Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard potentially could shore up the defensive line of the Browns new 4-3 defense, and adding a potential play maker in Greg Little is just what Colt McCoy needs to help improve on his sophomore campaign.
Round 1, Pick 21 (from Chiefs): Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Right now the Browns have a big gap at defensive tackle. They have Ahytba Rubin, and fringe starters the rest of the way. Their run defense has been pretty poor over the last few years, mostly because they’ve had trouble getting big boys up front.
Phil Taylor is a massive 338 pound defensive tackle who holds the point of attack well, and has quick feet for a big guy. Stopping the run in 2011 is the Browns biggest priority in the AFC North since they have to face guys like Ray Rice and Rashard Mendenhall.
Round 2, Pick 37: Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
Getting a pass rush generated is only going to help the young secondary that Cleveland has established. Sheard is a nasty pass rusher with a mean streak. He doesn’t have a very quick first step, but he does create problems in the backfield and does a nice job keeping contain.
He’s better than what most give him credit for against the run, but in Cleveland, it’s his pass rush abilities that will make his name well known. I saw Sheard as a first round talent that Cleveland got for an early second.
Round 2, Pick 59 (from Falcons): Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
The Browns are in dire need of a wide receiver, especially one that has the run after catch ability like Little. The former running back, Little is a bit raw, and didn’t get to play in 2010. But his potential is through the roof. The pick is slightly risky being somewhat high, but a late second rounder makes it worthy if he can become the play maker that many scouts think he can be.
Round 4, Pick 102: Jordan Cameron, TE, USC
This pick threw me for a bit of a loop. Cameron is extremely raw as a tight end prospect. He’s not overly athletic, but he does have good hands. Cameron has been on the rise, a la Jimmy Graham of the 2010 NFL Draft, and some scouts compare the two.
But he doesn’t seem to fit the west coast offense ideally, and with Evan Moore and aging Ben Watson, the Browns could have probably waited another round or two and snatched a better tight end like D.J. Williams or Virgil Green.
Round 4, Pick 124 (from Falcons): Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford
The pick of Owen Marecic pretty much seals the deal that Lawrence Vickers will not be brought back. But with the west coast offense, there’s little need for a true fullback, which is why Vickers is expendable.
That is also why drafting Marecic in the fourth round is a bit suspect, especially because they could have waited for a pass catching full back like Stanley Havili later in the draft. Marecic is a football player though, and does offer some ability to move to linebacker, so it could potentially pay off.
Round 5, Pick 137: Buster Skrine, CB, Tennessee-Chattanooga
Buster Skrine is one of the best kept secrets in the 2011 NFL Draft. He came to the combine ready to work out and looked good in change of direction drills, which is one big reason the Browns decided to draft Joe Haden in 2010. The Browns need depth at cornerback with Eric Wright potentially not coming back/being ineffective in 2010, as well as Sheldon Brown slowing down.
Round 5, Pick 150: (from Giants, through Vikings): Jason Pinkston, OG/OT, Pittsburgh
Pinkston was thought to be a Top 100 talent by many. His versatility at Pittsburgh was shown often playing left tackle, right tackle and right guard. The Browns need to start grooming a right tackle, and Pinkston will be in the mix early for the Browns. I think the value was great, and Pinkston is a great project in the fifth round.
Round 7, Pick 248: Eric Hagg, S, Nebraska
The Browns are looking for a strong safety to emerge. Abram Elam, otherwise known as “Look Behind You Abe”, is a liability against the pass, but does do well in run support. Unfortunately, Hagg compares to Adam Archuleta and is somewhat of a liability against the pass as well. The pick fills a need for safety depth, but Hagg will likely never emerge. Former Nebraska safety Larry Asante was drafted late by the Browns in 2010, and was waived in September.
Overall Grade: A-
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