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The Cleveland Browns' Draft, Part I: The Players

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Round 1, Pick 3 – Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama), 5’9”, 228 lbs. – I was banging the table for Richardson all through March and April, and he’s gotten more press than almost any other prospect, so I won’t waste time going over his vitae. I’m delighted that we secured him on Thursday night. I think he was clearly the best player available after Luck and Griffin, and his presence will improve every individual performance on and team scoring output for what was truly a wretched offense last season.

Round 1, Pick 22 – Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State), 6’4”, 221 lbs. – I’m really conflicted about this pick. I hated it at the time, and I’m still not in love with it. I don’t see any future in complaining about it until I see him play in the pros. I’ve never heard anyone question his ability—everyone loves the arm strength, loves the accuracy—but nearly everyone questions his age and his potential to grow. It’s easy to look at this pick and say that it will set us back years if it doesn’t work out. On the other hand, in terms of physical ability, he’s an immediate step up over Colt McCoy, who’s a guy I’ve stood up for as much as any fan could have the past six months. What’s more, the Browns are clearly trying to deliver wins next season with these two picks.

Round 2, Pick 37 – Mitchell Schwartz (OT, California), 6’5”, 318 lbs. – This is a good pick. I wasn’t sure about it at the moment, but they want a big, durable right tackle who can start immediately. When you draft in the first five of the second round, you need a starter, and an RT can step in faster than a project wide receiver such as Stephen Hill. This was the correct choice in this position, because they clearly were scared away from Martin and felt Glenn projected to guard rather than tackle.

Round 3, Pick 87 – John Hughes (DT, Cincinnati), 6’2”, 309 lbs. – Weird selection, because it left gaping needs at wide receiver, linebacker, and cornerback unfilled for what seems like a perverse luxury pick. We have two solid defensive tackles in Rubin and Taylor, but they played a ton of snaps last year. He improves the rotation on the defensive line and he’s absolutely a run-stopper and a tackler. No one really valued him the way the Browns did, so the wisdom of taking him in the 3rd looks suspect, when he could have been gotten in 4th, 5th, or maybe 6th round. On the other hand, I would compare this selection to our picking T.J. Ward in 2010, when we drafted a guy we liked earlier than we needed to, but he’s filled a role nicely.

Round 4, Pick 100 – Travis Benjamin (WR, Miami, Fla.), 5’10”, 172 lbs. – I love—LOVE—this pick. He’s on the slight side, certainly, but he gives us the burner on offense we haven’t had in years. His forty-time is 4.36, but more than that his speed on the field is excellent and his ability to change direction is good. I’ve heard some people peg him as a return guy—to which he will contribute—but his receiving skills are underrated; his jump is more than adequate, and he times it well. I’m not saying he’s going to be as successful a player, but I’m just going to toss this out there. DeSean Jackson was 5’10”, 169 lbs. at the Combine. They’re the same player on paper, and Tom Heckert served as a General Manager of the Eagles when Jackson was drafted. JESUS, LAY OFF ME, I’M JUST SAYING.

Round 4, Pick 120 – James Michael-Johnson (LB, Nevada), 6’1”, 241 lbs. – Personally, I think you can never draft enough linebackers, and this is a good addition. He adds depth behind D’Qwell Jackson on the inside, and has the ability to play outside and tackle if necessary. He’s a run-stopper and a leader (two-time captain at Nevada), and it’s a good value here in the 4th.

Round 5, Pick 160 – Ryan Miller (OG, Colorado), 6’7”, 321 lbs. – This is an intriguing pick. He would be an enormous guard, and it’s worth pointing out that he was a 5-star recruit as a tackle coming out of high school. He’ll probably play inside in the pros and could challenge Shaun Lauvao (starting RG), whose performance has been somewhat disappointing. He builds depth at guard, shoring up the interior of an offensive line which should shape up very nicely next season.

Round 6, Pick 204 – Emmanuel Acho (LB, Texas), 6’1”, 238 lbs. – As sixth round picks go, this one I like. Living in Texas for two years, I got to see a lot of the Longhorns, and I noticed him and his brother, Sam, who had a solid rookie season with Arizona last year. I expect Emmanuel to contribute on special teams and in running situations immediately, but he has the speed to become a deceptive pass rusher over time and I would not be surprised to see a long-term home for him on the outside. He seems like a smart kid and a good person, and is probably very coachable. I don’t know if he’s going to set the world on fire, but this is a guy I expect to make the team and do his job well.

Round 6, Pick 205 – Billy Winn (DT, Boise State), 6’4”, 294 lbs. – If the Browns drafted John Hughes ‘too high,’ this pick screams ‘great value.’ They landed a tackle with a second-round grade with the 205th pick, who probably fell because he had some medical issues we don’t know about. He’s tall, which is nice, a weight room guy, and a relentless player from a good program. He not only keeps the point but sheds nicely to make tackles, although he can get pushed around by double-teams or by linemen who have an overwhelming size advantage.

Round 7, Pick 245 – Trevin Wade (CB, Arizona), 5’10”, 192 lbs. – This is another second-round grade who fell late to the Browns. You can’t fill every need in the draft, but you had to wonder if they were going to someone to fill out the secondary eventually, and it would probably come at corner, considering how thin this draft was at safety.

Round 7, Pick 247 – Brad Smelley (FB/TE, Alabama), 6’2”, 237 lbs. – Something I never thought of that Shurmur brought up in his presser on Thursday night: he worked for Nick Saban at Michigan State. This is pursuing a blocker to free up Watson and Moore to work as receiving options while preserving the edge Richardson.


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Updated 04-29-2012 at 07:09 AM by mkocs6

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  1. KabaModernFan's Avatar
    My thoughts on the Browns Draft, all neatly compiled and organized into a bulleted list!!

    • Richardson was the right pick at #3. He was one of the five best players in the Draft based purely on talent, is the best RB prospect to come out since Adrian Peterson (and is arguably better than Peterson was as a prospect since Richardson doesn't have the injury baggage), and will immediately step in and be a difference maker on offense. So far the Browns get an A+
    • They lose me with Brandon Weeden though. Riley Reiff, David DeCastro, Whitney Mercilus, Nick Perry, Kevin Zeitler, and Courtney Upshaw were all still available. I think all of those players could be better than Brandon Weeden is right now - save for perhaps Mercilus and Perry who are more developmental guys - and Weeden isn't likely to get much better than he already is unless he's the second coming of Rich Gannon. I don't think he's that much better than Colt McCoy, who I still like, to warrant this high of a pick.
    • I liked Mitchell Schwartz as one of my favorite RT prospects in the Draft, and he should be a solid player for Cleveland for years to come. I think that's all he'll ever be though - solid. Not a bad thing; but with Cordy Glenn, Jonathan Martin, and Andre Branch all still available I think this pick could've been used on a player with more upside. It was also a bit of a reach, but not a pick I can criticize too much.
    • John Hughes however, I have no reservations about criticizing heavily. It was a pick used on a position that they had no reason to look at in the third round, and on a player that I would say went three rounds sooner than he should have. By far my least favorite Browns pick, and one of my least favorite of the entire Draft.
    • The Travis Benjamin pick intrigued me. I knew someone was going to draft him somewhere, it was just a matter of seeing who and when it would be. His speed is undeniable and he'll add value as a return man, but I'm not sure he'll ever be an actual wide receiver. He has poor hands, doesn't run routes, doesn't always play hard, and can't block. If the Browns wanted a speedy receiver who could add value in the return game, well Joe Adams went five picks later.
    • The James-Michael Johnson pick is where they start to win me back over. I thought the Browns did a really nice job getting value in the later rounds, and considering the injury history of D'Qwell Jackson this seems like a good insurance policy pick. He could probably play some on the outside too, and the team could use some help there.
    • Ryan Miller was another Day 3 acquisition I really liked for the team. He could play at either RT or RG, and in a few years could even be a starter. At worst I think he'll have a long career as a backup T/G swingman who can fill in serviceably for an injured starter.
    • The sixth round I thought the Browns really nailed, picking up some really nice value in Acho and Winn. I'm not sure Acho will give the Browns the speed they were looking for on the outside, but if given some time to develop I think he could turn into a decent starter in the league. I had Winn graded as a third round pick as well, so even though he plays at a position that wasn't in real need of an upgrade, he provided enough value in the sixth to warrant picking him up. Now if only they could have that Hughes pick back.
    • Trevin Wade was another player who I was really surprised to see fall as far as he did. I had him going in the fourth round of my last mock draft, so again, lots of value here at a position that could use some depth. I feel pretty good about his chances of making the 53 man roster. Smelley is a decent pickup in the seventh, but I'm not sold that he'll stick with the team. Likely ends up on the practice squad to start his career.

    All in all, the Browns' draft leaves me feeling a little empty. I would've liked to see them pick up more than one receiver, and a better one than Circus Benjamin. Another 4-3 DE would've also been nice as a building block to pair up with Jabaal Sheard. I don't like to give out letter grades because that seems fairly arbitrary, but I think that Cleveland could've done more with what they had.
  2. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
    I think the Browns did a nice job of finding legit contributors in rounds 1-4. To me, that's got to be the ultimate goal. Rounds 5-7 are gravy, fully understanding that there will be many most years who don't even make the final roster. So if you can get even 1 contributor each year from the late rounds, you're ahead of the game. I think Cleveland did a nice job of finding guys late that have a real chance to play an important role on their team. So overall, this draft has to be considered a win, even if not a slam dunk.