Random thoughts on the draft…
February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
I took the day off and figured I would vent a little on the upcoming draft. I still have time to read/watch football, but writing on it is significantly more time consuming, especial since I am prone to be on the longwinded side of things.
17. Patriots (from Raiders)
For all intents and purposes the Browns will be selecting from this rather short list. I have taken the general consensus top picks and put them together in the order that I have ascribed to them if I were the GM. This is also adjusting for the change to the 4-3 base defense.
1. Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson
2. Patrick Peterson CB LSU
3. Nick Fairley DT Auburn
4. Marcell Dareus DT Alabama
5. Prince Amukamara CB Nebraska
6. Robert Quinn DE N. Carolina
7. A.J. Green WR Georgia
8. Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
Pass rush is the primary concern.
The past 2 seasons saw Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan as the undisputed sack leader. Pass rush has been a product of schemes and blitzes, but that changes with a 4-3 defense. In a 3-4 you can drop 7 into coverage (man with 2 deep safeties) and still have an element of surprise as to where the 4th pass rusher is coming from. In a 4-3 they have to take away coverage in order to blitz. That means the offense knows where to block, and any surprise necessarily comes at the expense of coverage. Therefore, in order to run a 4-3, it is imparative to generate pass rush with the 4 down linemen.
Corners; Pat and Prince
Adjusted for their talents versus impact for the Browns, they are both viable picks. While pass rush is a primary concern, it is largely due to the defensive transition, the cornerback position is probably the second most important position for any team like the Browns, QB being most important for all teams. If you do not have a high scoring team, if your running game is a bigger threat than passing, you need good corners. This will allow your defense to keep the score low and not allow the other team to force a shootout scenario, which would kill the Browns. Plus having either across from Haden for the next decade or so would be a formidable matchup against any team. Further, Eric Wright is a terrible tackler, and Browns corners will need to tackle more. Again it goes to the 4-3, removing a linebacker for an additional linemen means less speed in pursuit of ball carriers, and therefore corners will have to tackle more.
Basically, Ahtyba Rubin is the only significant bright spot in the front seven. Like the corners, the interior of the line would be great if it was shored up to top notch. This would require a dominant defensive tackle. Really, a guy that can hold up in a phone booth with anyone in the league and 2 gap, as well as pass rush whenever. This may also require a significant vote of confidence in Matt Roth, or some other linebacker, to play defensive end.
A.J. Green, or any WR
If he is the glaring best available, then sure, but picking a WR over a CB or pass rushing end is ridiculous. Top picks at WR are okay if there is an established QB, otherwise it is like buying $20,000 rims for a 1979 Chevette. Look at Larry Fitzgerald’s impact on the Cardinals this year, or Steve Smith’s to the Panthers, compared with Brady, Manning and Rivers looking like All-stars with a no-name receiving corps for most of the year.
Should he be passed up by Arizona and Cincinnati, and fall to the 6th pick, Cleveland should take the opportunity to trade back, unless of course the coaches fall in love with this QB from Missouri. The Vikings, Dolphins, Redskins, Titans, and Jaguars could all be willing to trade for the top QB prospect, and the change in systems means high positional turnover, so you may as well get young guys in to fill the void and add depth.
Trading back is the rule in the Browns spot, unless the front office is willing to make an exception for one of the guys listed above. Some of the people to look out for if the Browns get a chance to trade back.
He is a big boy and projected high, somewhere in the mid-to-late first round, on most mock draft boards. For NFL teams he might be a bit scary of a choice though coming from Wisconsin. While he played left tackle there, he is really more of a Right Tackle, skewed by Wisconsin’s run heavy offense one does not see the required footwork from him to make him an elite Left Tackle. That said, he is the prototypical Right Tackle, and would be great as a road grater for Hillis.
You remember when you were in high school, and you had a crush on a girl and you couldn’t explain why. She wasn’t the prettiest, most popular, or funniest, or really any of the things that one thought to set her apart from other girls, all you knew is that you liked her. That said, Ryan Kerrigan is going to be the subject of a lot of NFL ‘man-crushes’ this year. He runs high, tends to be flatfooted, and I question his initial burst against NFL talent, or significant developmental upside, but I am still on the ‘man-crush’ list.
He seems mature in interviews, has a nonstop motor, and has great instincts, the maturity comes in huge in coach ability in overcoming some of the drawbacks. He played a monstrous season as a left Defensive End this year, but at 260 lbs he will never be able to set the edge consistently in the NFL. As the Browns go to a 4-3 this year, he could play at the RDE spot, utilizing his exceptional pass rushing skills. Then again, at 6’4”, he does have the frame to support some more weight. There are a few question marks as to his speed, but they will mean more to teams that would look to develop him as a 3-4 OLB. If he turns out to run particularly slow, that could mean a significant drop in his status on draft day. With about half the teams in the league running 3-4 defenses, a slower time may drop him significantly, leaving more value for a 4-3 team than a 3-4 team.
Another defensive end to watch out for. He is currently listed to go in the mid 20s as far as draft day goes, but that could all change depending on how he performs at the combine and pro-days. He is listed at 6’6” and 280 lbs, a big boy who can get bigger. His size means 3-4 teams will be looking at him as well, looking to add 20 or so pounds and line him up at an end spot too. He may just be the best fit if the Browns can trade back a few times, add more picks. His size and pass rush ability, combine to make him very versatile, giving him the ability to potentially move inside to tackle on 3rd and long, or other passing downs. That would allow a faster guy to replace his end spot, while he replaces inside tackle to upgrade pass rushing from the front four as a whole.
Under the Radar
These are a couple of guys that I think will do well in the right situation, not due to their talent necessarily, but are a couple of system fits that may excel in Brown and Orange.
1 Quan Sturdivant
At 6’2” 230 lbs he is big enough, and then, from what I have seen, he should run somewhere in the 4.5s maybe low 4.6s making him fast enough, and he has the instincts. He is probably the most versatile LB prospect in the draft and currently projected in the 3rd-4th rounds, in which he could be a steal. He can play any LB position and do all that is asked of him. That versatility is key to ensure that he contributes in the future, and allowing the Browns to upgrade their line backing corps.
2 Kendall Hunter
OK State has him listed at 5’8” and 200 lbs… That is probably soaking wet, in pads, and with at least one inch cleats on. That said, he lacks the build for a 3 down back, but has the skills for a third down back. His blocking is unbelievable for his size, and his hands do really well as a receiving option. He is probably worth a shot in the second round but the lack of size, and looming history of injuries is a major concern, probably dropping to the third, if not fourth, round.
On the uncomfortable side of the draft, AKA scary picks
1 Cameron Heyward – DE – The Ohio State University
Yes we need 4-3 ends, and has all the inherent physical tools, but he is soft. He plays soft, meaning he does not go all out on every play, and before you hand someone millions to play a game, you must know that the game is the most important thing to them. You do not see the ‘strong will’ in Heyward that you see in fellow Big 10 prospects listed above. That combined with his lack of progression from junior to senior years is frightening. Basically, most inconsistent players, like Heyward, have tremendous physical ability, not to be confused with talent, and rely solely on that, unwilling to work at getting better, also known as JaMarcus Russell Syndrome
2 Casey Matthews – LB – OregonDue to his father, uncle, and brother, people seem a little too high on him. He really looks exceptionally undisciplined and his aggressiveness is more of a liability than asset. I don’t like him before the 4th or 5th round. He needs at least a couple years on special teams before he should get into the ball game with any regularity.
Something clever that sums it up and ends on a witty comment, that is pointed and leaves you smiling… That is a whole lot faster!!!