Round 5, Pick No. 150: Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh (76th overall prospect)
The Cleveland Browns traded two sixth-round selections, one of which came as part of the package that also included Peyton Hillis in exchange for Brady Quinn, to move back into the fifth round and select Jason Pinkston. This was a trade well worth making.
Pinkston was a great steal in Round 5, for he would have been worth a Day 2 pick. The Browns were in need of a right tackle, the position which Pinkston is best suited to play in the National Football League. Pinkston does not have great feet, but he is a massive technician who is very strong as a run blocker, and has the versatility to kick inside to guard as well.
Pinkston should be able to fill a void at either right tackle or at guard, and be a big bargain as a fifth-round selection.
Round 1, Pick No. 21: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor (29th overall prospect)
First of all, it must be explained how the Cleveland Browns ended up with the 21st overall selection. Of course, the Browns originally held the sixth overall selection, but in the blockbuster trade of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Browns traded away that pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for the 27th, 59th and 124th overall selections, as well as the Falcons’ 2012 first- and fourth-round selections.
Then, the Browns traded the acquired 27th overall selection, along with their own third-round selection (70th overall), to move up to 21st overall in order to select Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor.
Given the Browns are playing a 4-3 as their base defense, there were better defensive tackle options available in California’s Cameron Jordan and Oregon State’s Stephen Paea, with Taylor being more of a nose tackle. However, the Browns will likely play some sort of hybrid defense, which could make the massive and powerful Taylor a great selection.
Additionally, the fact that the Browns ended up with three extra draft selections, even with the move up six spots following the initial trade down 21 spots, makes it hard to criticize the Browns’ selection at all, although it does not deserve criticism anyways. Taylor may be raw and have had character concerns in his history, but he is massive and strong, and could end up being a force on the Browns interior line, so he was a quality choice that added to the team’s major need area of the defensive line.
Round 4, Pick No. 124: Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford (101st overall prospect)
In the fourth round, a team could not go wrong by selecting Owen Marecic. Marecic may be the most versatile player in the entire 2011 NFL Draft. He was known for being one of few two-way players in all of college football last season, highlighted by one extraordinary sequence in a game against Notre Dame, in which Marecic scored a one-yard rushing touchdown, then 12 seconds later, returned an interception for a touchdown.
While Marecic played both fullback and linebacker at Stanford, his primary position should be fullback for the Cleveland Browns, although his prime value should come on special teams, where he will be a standout. Marecic will not be a star in the National Football League, but his versatility, work ethic and hard-nosed style of play are all aspects that any coach should love, and I see him being a very successful player at the next level. A great fourth-round pickup.
Round 7, Pick No. 248: Eric Hagg, FS, Nebraska (201st overall prospect)
Eric Hagg is another versatile choice by the Cleveland Browns. Hagg can play both cornerback and safety, making him a great depth player in the secondary. He is slow for the cornerback position, and is small for a safety.
However, Hagg is an opportunistic playmaker in the secondary, who is good at both coverage and tackling, and he should at least be able to be a role player in the secondary and a special teams contributor. As one of the last selections in the 2011 NFL Draft, Hagg was a valuable addition.
Not the Best Pick
Round 2, Pick No. 37: Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh (86th overall prospect)
The Cleveland Browns desperately needed to add a defensive end, but early in Round 2, there were better choices available than Jabaal Sheard. Sheard is a solid all-around end who is good against the run, but is not a great pass-rusher.
Sheard was a reach as a second-round pick, especially with a potential star talent in Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers still available, even considering the concerns around his injured knee. Given that Sheard fills a need, and many of the top defensive ends were gone, this was not exactly a horrible selection, but it was poor value.
Round 2, Pick No. 59: Greg Little, WR, North Carolina (110th overall prospect)
Prior to last season, I thought Greg Little was a second-round prospect, but after being suspended for his entire senior season after receiving improper benefits, it came as a real surprise that he still went in the second round.
Little is a solid slot receiver, but he does not have the explosiveness to be the big playmaker the Browns need. The Browns had the right idea in drafting a wide receiver here, but should not have passed up two significantly better prospects still on the board in Kentucky’s Randall Cobb and Miami’s Leonard Hankerson.
Round 4, Pick No. 102: Jordan Cameron, TE, USC (297th overall prospect)
With the recent success of basketball players making the transition to tight end, Jordan Cameron is looking to do the same. Cameron has the size and athleticism of a basketball player, making him an attractive tight end prospect, but he only played one year of football at USC, and did not have great productivity.
Cameron is a good developmental prospect who would have been worthy of a late-round selection, but selecting him with one of the first picks of Day 3 was a major reach, especially with two of the draft’s best tight end prospects in Tennessee’s Luke Stocker and Arkansas’s D.J. Williams still available as great bargains.
Cameron does have the upside to become a big-time receiving threat, and could make this pick really pay off, but it was certainly not a great decision by the Browns.
“What the…?” Picks
Round 5, Pick No. 137: Buster Skrine, CB, Chattanooga (305th overall prospect)
While Buster Skrine has tremendous measurable speed, he is an inconsistent player coming from the FCS level, and was a huge reach as a fifth-round selection. While Skrine has good upside as a defensive back, he is a raw talent who should not have been selected ahead of the seventh round.
Utah’s Brandon Burton, who went two picks later, is a much better prospect at the position, and would have been a steal in the fifth round. Instead, the Browns got caught up in the hype of Skrine’s speed, and took a chance on him too early in the 2011 NFL draft. Not a good pick in the fifth round.
The Picks They Traded
Round 7, Pick No. 209: Traded in March 2010 for quarterback Seneca Wallace
Colt McCoy has established himself as the starting quarterback in Cleveland, but Seneca Wallace is a very good backup to McCoy. Giving up only a seventh-rounder for Wallace was a very low price to pay, for the Browns could not have gotten a better backup quarterback with this draft pick.
The Cleveland Browns may have executed the top trade of the 2011 NFL draft when they picked up a plethora of picks from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for their sixth overall selection. The Browns then moved back up from the 27th spot to the 21st spot in order to draft Phil Taylor, who is a big addition to the defensive line.
However, the Browns made poor use of their second-round selections, as they made two reaches on Jabaal Sheard and Greg Little. Jason Pinkston was a great bargain on Day 3, and the Browns found a very versatile player in Owen Marecic earlier on that day, but they also made a couple of massive reaches by selecting Jordan Cameron and Buster Skrine early on Day 3.
While the Browns did make a few great moves, they also made some very puzzling moves. They addressed needs on the defensive line, right tackle and wide receiver, with the linebacker position being the only major need that went completely unaddressed.
Overall, the Browns did a good job of addressing their needs, and made a great trade for stocking up on picks in both this year’s draft as well as next year’s, but due to many poor value selections, the Browns receive a B for this draft.