NFL Draft 2011: Seven Undrafted Players the Cleveland Browns Need to Target
The 2011 Draft should be considered highly successful, and perhaps even the most successful one since their return in 1999. None of the Browns pick this year were considered "sexy" but they will help the team grow into a very good football team.
The drafting of Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard has given to very solid players for defensive coordinator Dick Jauron to mold into professionals and solid components of his defense. The drafting of Greg Little, Owen Merecic and Jason Pinkston, have added to the toughness and grit of the Browns offense, something they've been lacking since the emergence of Peyton Hillis last season.
The Browns need to continue on this draft by getting a few solid pieces in free agency, and maybe taking a few undrafted guys to develop with the team. Some of these guys were big time college athletes that were snubbed for one reason or another, and some of them, I believe, fit what the Browns are trying to do.
1. Mark Herzlich, LB Boston College
It's kind of hard to believe this guy went undrafted. He's got grit, work ethic and pride to boot and his playmaking ability is often underrated if anything. He's also a cancer survivor, and was unquestionably a leader in college and received numerous awards for his courage and toughness.
While Herzlich played outside linebacker in college I believe he is far too slow to fill this position in the NFL. While he can rush the passer, he's much more effective when he's tackling the runner and he is just fast enough to keep up with fullbacks and most tight ends.
Because of these qualities, Herzlich would be an ideal middle linebacker in Dick Jauron's 4-3. Jauron's system was very successful in Chicago when he worked with All Pro linebacker Brain Urlacher behind two meaty defensive tackles, much like Herzlich would if he played the Mike spot here.
His skills speak for themselves, and I believe that Herzlich, while a little raw talent-wise embodies the city in the best way possible. He's a great leader, an underdog, a hard worker, and most importantly a cancer survivor. His story and battle with cancer shouldn't be the reason he is signed as Herzlich has the potential to be the Joe Haden of the linebacking corps and the Peyton Hillis of the defense. A leader who understands what he needs to do, and doesn't leave the training facility until he does it.
A face and voice for a community of fans that consistently show up and support their team, in good times and in bad. Herzlich is the kind of player that represents out fan base. Unwaivering, patient and most of all hardworking.
Herzlich could easily become a fan favorite in Cleveland. This is a guy I have very high expectations for.
2. Deunta Williams, FS North Carolina
Here is another guy that surprisingly slipped off of the map. He was a projected mid-fifth round pick, but his fall might've been due to the fact that he was one of the players involved in the agent scandal.
Talent-wise he was one of the better safeties in this draft, and in my personal opinion, much better than Browns' seventh-round pick, safety Eric Hagg of Nebraska.
When it comes to skills, Williams' comes from his ball skills which were invaluable to him throughout his college career after being converted from wide receiver. Williams is an instinctual safety who plays much like Ed Reed (there's no comparing the two, it's just an example) who is also able to deliver a good pop after the initial catch and shows a good effort to bring down the ball carrier.
While he had a drop-off in his production in his senior season, that could've been the result of some minor injuries he suffered and the major leg injury he had after the Music City Bowl last season, and some could be based on the conflict that the entire Tar Heel organization had to deal with.
Whatever the reason, Williams didn't dazzle anyone last year, and that along with his injury and alleged off the field behavior may have caused the significant drop in his stock. Regardless, the Browns should seriously take a look at this kid. Before the draft, many draft experts fell in love with the plays this guy made at North Carolina. He's got all the tools necessary to be experienced at the next level.
He'd make the perfect compliment to last years' Browns surprise T.J. Ward who took the NFL by storm and is probably more NFL ready than Eric Hagg, even though Hagg may end up the more successful professional in the end.
Don't be surprised if the Browns decide to take a chance on this guy, but I have a feeling they won't seeing as they're happy with their pick of Eric Hagg, as they should be.
3. Dane Sanzenbacher, WR Ohio State
Here is a guy that many Browns fans wished that the front office would've taken in the draft as a late round flier. There is still a chance he falls to us. Guys like Sanzenbacher are largely ignored in the NFL because of their perceived lack of elite skill.
While it's true that Sanzenbacher doesn't have elite speed or playmaking ability after the catch, what he does provide is a target that will catch anything thrown near him. Much like Patriots' receiver Wes Welker, Sanzenbacher could prove to be a lethal player in the slot and would give Colt McCoy a very good third of fourth option.
Sanzenbacher also provides leadership and intelligence. He was arguably considered the best of Ohio State's receivers last season and was a guy that was relied upon heavily in the passing game. He may not develop this season, and he may take a little while to learn the routes in the West Coast Offense, but I'm confident that this guy could succeed in just about any NFL system.
4. Kendric Burney, CB North Carolina
Burney is a small, physical corner that would be an elite nickel/dime option for the Browns. It would give the team the opportunity to rid themselves of Mike Adams, and also plug the aging Sheldon Brown in at Free Safety where he could be an effective starter.
Burney is a guy that many thought would at least be drafted. He was also involved (what good UNC player wasn't) in the agent scandal, but so was fellow teammate and Browns' second round pick Greg Little. While Burney offers little more than a potential nickel corner, having depth at the corner position is something Cleveland fans could get used to, I'm sure.
Having four young, able bodied corners would only bolster the secondary even more and we could do just that. Joe Haden, Eric Wright, Buster Skrine and Kendric Burney looks and sounds much better on paper than Joe Haden, Sheldon Brown, Eric Wright and Mike Adams.
Interesting side note, at the end of this video on the very last play shown, the hit is by Deunta Williams (No. 27 on North Carolina's defense), and boy what a hit it is.
5. Pat Devlin, QB Delaware
If Holmgren wants his project quarterback, this guy would make one heck of a good project. But he is just that, a work in progress.
In terms of passing the football Devlin has everyone needed to succeed. Average arm strength, nice precision, nice deep ball, perfect throwing motion, overall solid mechanics. He's also a leadership type, not nearly as much as Colt McCoy, but he could come to be respected in the huddle, and that's huge in the NFL.
What makes him a project, is that he doesn't read the defense particularly well, and he needs work in a(n) pro-style offense and he needs to learn how to dropback (he played in the spread offense for most of his college years).
He shows good poise in the pocket and good ability to set his feet after scrambling in the pocket. Overall, people who compare him to Flacco do so because he transferred from a major school to Delaware, but they must not have watched many games, because not only is he not as physically big as Flacco, he's not nearly as clutch or overall as good as Flacco was coming into the NFL.
Overall, this guy could end up being a good quarterback in the future, but he's got two or three years to develop before he could be considered a reliable backup. With Seneca Wallace set to be McCoy's main backup, getting a guy that can be groomed into a very good backup might be worth the roster spot.
6. Mario Harvey, MLB Marshall
While he played middle linebacker at Marshall, this guys talents translate more to an outside linebacker role in the NFL, at least in the 4-3 but he may be effective as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme as well. His speed and nose for the football are very good and he is a very underrated pass rusher, and can do so from any linebacker spot.
Most of us saw this guy play Ohio State. It seemed like every major tackle in that game he was a part of. He was constantly around the ball and his tackling is fundamental. While he didn't get any sacks on Terrelle Pryor, he did manage to be effective as a pass rusher, keeping pressure on the budding Ohio State star.
While he is very good on running downs, he is a liability in pass coverage. His small wingspan and stiff hips give him limited range and mobility to be able to make a play in the passing game. He also lacks the top end speed (he plays a lot slower in pads than his 40 time would indicate) to keep up with some tight ends and most running backs, where he needs to become more effective.
While his speed isn't elite, he does possess very good bulk, maybe in excess, and if Harvey were to sacrifice some bulk, he would most likely be able to get faster and not have to lug as much muscle on his frame, and it is all muscle.
Harvey has a lot of things going right and few going wrong. He is among the quickest of all of the linebacker prospects in this draft at least as far as straight-line speed goes. Although he may not start this season, he'd be able to make the front seven better as he began to mature.
7. Scott Lutrus, MLB Connecticut
I actually really like this guy. He's quick to shed blockers, make a tackle and takes smart angles to the ball carrier. He tend to rely on arm tackles when he gets beat, but he does a good job in space. He is a hard worker and was a leader on this year's Huskies defense.
He does have an injury history, including a stinger that continued to pain him all last season, sidelining him for far too much time. While he does have lots of things he'll have to do in order to be a be starter in the league, he is a very good backup and has lots of experience playing the position.
He has a bit of trouble blitzing, and as a result, isn't the best pass rusher (obviously) and has problems anticipating the snap. He is a little slow off the ball, but once the ball is snapped, he is quick to read the quarterback, diagnose the play and get involved, which is what you'd like to see in an inside linebacker prospect.
Overall, this guy would be a solid backup and spot starter, but again, projecting him as a full-fledged starter wouldn't be smart, especially because of his injury history. But he'd be a good guy to try to develop behind a veteran.