• If Not Now, When?

    It’s been a rough decade and change for this version of the Cleveland Browns.

    After a three-year hiatus per say with the original franchise relocating to Baltimore and becoming the Ravens, the team is a combined 68-140 since “returning” to the NFL in 1999, producing just a pair of winning seasons (9-7 in 2002 and 10-6 in ’07) and one playoff berth (’02). And since that aforementioned 10-win season, the Browns are 18-46 since 2008--losing 11 or more games 4 consecutive years.

    Of course, when you reside in a division where a season ago every team went to the playoffs with the exception of yourself and it’s hard to make headway. Cleveland was a “perfect” 0-6 vs. the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals in 2011 and has lost 10 straight games to AFC North rivals dating back to ’10. Since 2002, the Browns have had 5 head coaches, while the remainder of the division has employed a combined 6 sideline leaders.

    As of this moment, there’s one thing the Browns have more of than any other team in the league, much less their division, and that’s selections in the 2012 Draft. The franchise owns an NFL high 13 picks as we approach April 26, including a pair in the first and third rounds, and must make the most of the opportunity to fortify their talent.

    By the way, it’s also worth noting that the rest of the teams in the division aren’t exactly hurting when it comes to selections themselves. The Steelers have 10 picks, the Bengals 9 and the defending AFC North champion Ravens 8. That means 40 of the 253 overall selections (again, as we speak) will come from arguably the conference’s (or league’s) best division in 2011.

    From all indications, the Browns’ biggest needs lie on the offensive side of the football. Led by Dick Jauron, the team played respectable football defensively. But the inability to generate points on a consistent basis has actually been a big issue in recent seasons and once again reared its head during head coach Pat Shurmur’s first year at the helm. The speculation is that the team could opt for a quarterback, running back or wide receiver, with many forecasting the club grabbing Alabama RB Trent Richardson with the fourth overall slection.

    But no matter who they opt for, this is an important offseason for the franchise. Again, making strides in the AFC North isn’t easy these days and the franchise doesn’t necessarily need to select 13 players. But they need to add some impact performers on both sides of the football if they are to start to make a move in the division.

    So what should we expect from the Browns come late April and eventually, in September? Let the guessing game(s) begin…

    Comments 20 Comments
    1. NickMykita's Avatar
      Any chance the Browns take Ryan Tannehill at #4? Trent Richardson would also be a great choice since they need a RB, but the stories I hear through the ether indicate that the front office isn't sold on Colt McCoy anymore.
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      I'd take Richardson and a WR early to help out McCoy. He's been throwing to a bunch of #3 and 4 receivers his whole career. Give him some weapons and see what you have.
    1. Gandalf2300's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by vancemeek View Post
      I'd take Richardson and a WR early to help out McCoy. He's been throwing to a bunch of #3 and 4 receivers his whole career. Give him some weapons and see what you have.
      It is hard for any QB to succeed when throwing to sub-par WR and TE-just ask Rams QB Sam Bradford who slumped in 2011 largely due to WR who could not catch and a line that could not protect. A developing (at least we hope he is developing) QB like McCoy needs more help from the running game to take off some of the pressure-otherwise he will end up like David Carr or Marc Bulger, too physically and mentally battered to be effective anymore. RB and WR have to be top priority for the Browns this year in the early rounds.

      RB Trent Richardson is a no-brainer to pick at # 4 for the Browns-if this guy truly is the 'next Adrian Peterson', this is a worthwhile pick-and with the rookie salary cap, the cost will be contained. In a division that has very good defenses, it is important for the Browns to shore up the running game, especially since the flaky RB Hillis is gone and no one is sure if oft-injured RB Hardesty can contribute consistently. The WCO depends on a running back to move the chains once a lead is obtained via the passing attack, with more short passes than direct handoffs to the RB.

      They can trade up from their # 22 pick by bundling some other picks if needed, to target a decent wideout in the middle of round 1, preferably a WR with field-stretching ability. Even a 'dink and dunk' WCO needs to stretch the field to keep the defense honest and open up the slants and drag routes underneath. WR Kendall Wright (Baylor) and WR Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) are speed burners whom the Browns might be in position to draft.

      A Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, Cabot, floated the idea that several teams are interested in trading up to get the Brown's # 4 pick. I would not put much stock in it-it is fairly certain, according to ProFootball Talk's Mike Florio, that her 'sources' are from the Browns, who can only dream about getting a bounty of picks similar to what the Rams got for the # 2 pick. It is probably a Browns smokescreen to make other teams interested in trading up for the # 4 pick. My advice-keep the # 4 pick, take RB Trent Richardson and don't look back.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      I'm for Richardson early, and a best-available pick at #22 from among OT, WR, LB/DE, and CB. I don't think the need to draft a wide receiver is as great as it used to be, because Little is developing nicely as a receiver. And McCoy, even without any receivers, at least looked okay in 2010 with a stable running game in the form of Peyton Hillis.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Between Wright and Hill, I would much rather have Hill--6'4", 4.31? As a opposed to 5'10" and 4.61? Plus, Hill looks much faster on the field. Also, I think we might be able to get Hill at the top of the second round. Wright is slated to go in the mid-20s, and Hill may last. Mocks tend to forget that there are these defensive players and interior linemen teams like to draft in the 20s and 30s.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      Not a whole lot was added in free agency this offseason so these 13 picks become very critical to the future success of the Browns. You would think the Browns would at the very least blow smoke about interest in Tannehill even if there is very little to make Miami trade up from #8 to #3 with Minnesota to pick ahead of the Browns. Not critical though because the Vikings are supposedly sold on Kalil at LT with that pick. All options for Cleveland would still be sitting there. Richardson is a beast, and in the AFC Norht you must have a running game and play solid defense to compete. I have seen Blackmon play receiver during his career at Oklahoma State and he is the real deal. He would be an immediate upgrade for the Browns on the perimeter of their offense where they have struggled. Either one of these players would be an asset. The key will be putting the bat on the ball with a high % of the 13 picks available in addressing multiple needs. It is unrealistic to think all 13 draft picks will not only make the team, but all earn significant roles as rookies in the NFL. The Browns should be able to mine a few gems though.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      On the theory that elite receivers are more valuable than elite running backs, I'd have thought Cleveland would take Blackmon and hope that McCoy has enough arm to reach him. If your line is good, you should be able to manage with an average running back. And your WR, if he's good, will last more seasons.
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mkocs6 View Post
      I'm for Richardson early
      If Trent Richardson is on the board at #4 and the Browns don't take him there should be an investigation. If you have to bet on one guy from this draft becoming a perennial pro bowler, it's Richardson.

      Quote Originally Posted by mkocs6 View Post
      Between Wright and Hill, I would much rather have Hill--6'4", 4.31? As a opposed to 5'10" and 4.61?
      Wright is a polished receiver, good route runner, understands defenses, will contribute immediately.
      Hill is a project. Great athlete, that's about it. Reminds me of a less experienced Jonathan Baldwin.
      Wright will be good but will probably never be great. Hill could be great, but he could also be a bust.

      There are a lot of teams debating which of these 2 players should be the 3rd receiver off the board, that alone will probably push one of them into the top 20. I don't know that either of them should go higher than 25 to 30.
    1. GoBigOrGoHome's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      On the theory that elite receivers are more valuable than elite running backs, I'd have thought Cleveland would take Blackmon and hope that McCoy has enough arm to reach him. If your line is good, you should be able to manage with an average running back. And your WR, if he's good, will last more seasons.
      Ummm, yeah. How did that Braylon Edwards experience work out?

      Take the stud RB. It's a much safer pick. Trust me. My favorite team passed on Adrian Peterson.

      <shoots self in face with a bazooka>
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeland View Post
      If Trent Richardson is on the board at #4 and the Browns don't take him there should be an investigation. If you have to bet on one guy from this draft becoming a perennial pro bowler, it's Richardson.
      I agree.

      Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeland View Post
      Wright is a polished receiver, good route runner, understands defenses, will contribute immediately.
      Hill is a project. Great athlete, that's about it. Reminds me of a less experienced Jonathan Baldwin.
      Wright will be good but will probably never be great. Hill could be great, but he could also be a bust.

      There are a lot of teams debating which of these 2 players should be the 3rd receiver off the board, that alone will probably push one of them into the top 20. I don't know that either of them should go higher than 25 to 30.
      I don't have a problem with a project. I think Little is going to be a fine #1, and I figure we probably won't go WR at #22 if we draft Richardson. Hill may still be there at #36 and I don't think Wright will, and I'm okay with that.
    1. Turk Schonert's Avatar
      A WCO isn't built around a RB, it's built around the QB, receivers, and the system. Drafting Richardson would go against the philosophy built by Bill Walsh and adopted by Mike Holmgren. It would surprise me to see Holmgren change direction.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Not to nitpick, but Holmgren was the GM when Seattle drafted Shaun Alexander... just saying.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mkocs6 View Post
      Not to nitpick, but Holmgren was the GM when Seattle drafted Shaun Alexander... just saying.
      yes but alexander wasn't a top 5 pick. He was also a better receiver (which is a must in a WCO) than Richardson is (not that richardson is a slouch in that area).
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      yes but alexander wasn't a top 5 pick. He was also a better receiver (which is a must in a WCO) than Richardson is (not that richardson is a slouch in that area).
      Fair enough, but there were health concerns about Alexander not present with Richardson, and the wider point I'm trying to make is that a stud runningback and a West Coast aren't antithetical. And, as you said, Richardson's receiving skills are not bad, and his numbers are pretty good given Alabama's system.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      I've never been a fan of high draft picks on skill positions other than QB. But with the new rookie salaries, it's a much safer bet.

      I'm not sure you can go wrong with either Blackmon or Richardson though. Blackmon is amazing, on the field, not in the combine.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by mkocs6 View Post
      Fair enough, but there were health concerns about Alexander not present with Richardson
      Didn't Richardson just have some kind of knee procedure? When they say minor, I always think it's cartilage.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      If they go with Richardson, I'd lean taking Wright at 22. I agree with 6 that Little appears to have a really nice future, but based on his skill set, I think a guy like Wright who is precise in his routes with good hands would be a perfect compliment to Little.

      If they want to get a potential #1 receiver, then the choice has to be Blackmon at #4. Then, at 22 they can go best available, and still get someone like Doug Martin with their top pick in round 2.

      The three options they can consider...
      1.) TRich, Wright, Best Available rd 2
      2.) TRich, BA at 22, WR (likely Hill or Jeffery) in rd 2
      3.) Blackmon, BA at 22, RB (choice of the litter as to who their favorite is) in rd 2.

      Personally, I think option 3 may be their best bet to have the highest quality draft.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      I am violently opposed to taking a WR that high in the draft. For every Larry Fitzgerald, there are Braylons and Crabtrees and Charles Rodgers...

      If this Richardson is the blue chipper, than the Browns should grab him and then follow up with someone who weighs at least 260 pounds.

      They should then get a new defensive coordinator.
    1. Russell S Baxter's Avatar
      17 wide receivers have been chosen in the Top 5 since the common draft began in 1967, including WR A.J. Green by the Bengals in 2011. 3 of the last 4 have fared well, with Green the 16th rookie in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards receiving...

      Year Team Player School No.
      2011 Bengals A.J. Green Georgia 4
      2007 Lions Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech 2
      2005 Browns Braylon Edwards Michigan 3
      2004 Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh 3
      2003 Lions Charles Rogers Michigan State 2
      2003 Texans Andre Johnson Miami, Fla. 3
      2000 Bengals Peter Warrick Florida State 4
      1996 Jets Keyshawn Johnson Southern Cal 1
      1995 Redskins Michael Westbrook Colorado 4
      1992 Redskins Desmond Howard Michigan 4
      1984 Patriots Irving Fryar Nebraska 1
      1984 Eagles Kenny Jackson Penn State 4
      1980 Jets Johnny “Lam” Jones Texas 2
      1979 Bills Jerry Butler Clemson 5
      1978 Saints Wes Chandler Florida 3
      1972 Cardinals Bobby Moore Oregon 4
      1971 Bills J.D. Hill Arizona State 4
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      LOL Cool of you to Rock CLE, Russ. LOL

      I've got Nothing against the Browns but I think they are giving their fans a rough ride & it's their own doing. I don't like their lack of agression in Free Agency & the draft feels shady too. I hope they can go out there & prove me wrong a week from today & in the RegSea BUT it's my feeling that the Browns will likely have another humble year.

      What could change my mind is the fact that they find draft gems & likely wind up with FAs that buy into the Shurmer/Holmgren way. Never Say Never in the NFL; Browns fans deserve great rewards for their faithfulness.