April 23, 2014

Browns Draft Class: Time to Get to Know These Guys

After months of speculation, double-talk, smoke-screens and evaluations the picks are officially in.  

The Cleveland Browns have added eight players in total by way of this year’s NFL Draft, and seem to have improved a number of key areas in the process. 

If you are looking for a common thread amongst these selections, you could say that this year’s draft includes a collection of versatile players with high ceilings. 

I’d rather be more specific though, and say that it appears to include at least six starters, four All Pros, and two HOFers.  I am currently undecided, however, on which two of the four future All Pros will be eventually enshrined in Canton.  That’s what the season is for I suppose.   

For now though, here’s some of what Tom Heckert, Mike Holmgren, Pat Shurmur, and each of the Browns eight draft picks had to say at their respective conference calls upon the news that they’re heading to Cleveland: 

Tom Heckert, on that common thread of versatility:

“It helps. I don’t think it was a thing where we went in and said, ‘If this guy can’t play two positions or whatever.’ But no, it obviously helps. We talk about it all the time where especially if a lot of these guys are coming in as backups, if they can help you in any other way. If they can help you on special teams, it’s just a huge factor. Where last year and I’ve been in situations in Philadelphia where you have guys that aren’t playing because they’re backups, but they’re not playing on special teams, so they’re sitting on the sidelines and that doesn’t help anybody. Obviously the more you can do, the better off we are.”

Mike Holmgren, on if he thought this year’s draft was of the ‘outside the box’ variety:

“I wouldn’t put labels on it. I really wouldn’t. I think we have a way and Tom has a way of putting the thing together. We picked the best player available at the time at a position without reaching. That’s the key to a draft. If you can be solid year after year, I don’t think spectacular, but solid year after year and this is a solid way to do it. Then if you hit a spectacular pick, fine. But that’s the way to build and clearly he’s got a clear vision of this. The beauty of it is these two fellas worked very well together. Now the proof is in the pudding. We’ll see down the road, but we’re very, very excited and very, very happy with these picks right now.”

Pat Shurmur, on how long he thinks it would take for the two DL (Taylor, Sheard) to play awesome as rookies:

“We feel as though that is a position where a guy can come in and play, compete and really start in their first year. Every young player in the league, there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but I think with those players, they have a chance to be up and running a little quicker than say, some other position like an offensive lineman or something like that.”

From Eric Haag to Phil Taylor, the newest members of the Cleveland Browns:

Round 7 / 248 overall, Eric Haag – Nebraska, DB:

On what position he feels best fits him - “The position I played at Nebraska was the nickel position.  Most teams say it was the drop-down safety.  I would assume that I would be able to play corner and safety, but it really depends on what the coaches want me to do and I will work at what they want me to do.” 

On his playing style – “My playing style would be close to the line of scrimmage, getting my hands on the receiver, running with them, being a little bit physical at the line and then being able to go after the ball when it’s in the air.”

Round 5 / 150 overall, Jason Pinkston – OL, Pitt:

On growing up in Pittsburgh – “I grew up a Steelers fan. I grew up watching them all my life. I love them but it’s on to a business now and I’m a Cleveland Brown.”

On what he’ll do with the Steelers gear he’s accumulated over the years – “I’m donating it to Goodwill.”

Round 5, 137 overall, Buster Skrine - DB, Tenn-Chatt:

On running a 4.22 40-yard dash in college – “I ran a 4.22 the summer of my junior year and I was running 4.2’s that whole summer so I thought I was going to run a 4.2.  When I came to the Combine I was looking for the same, but they had 4.37.”  

On his 360 lbs. bench press in college – “I bench pressed 360 lbs. when we maxed at school.  The last time I max bench pressed was right before I left school and I got 360 lbs.” 

Round 4 / 124 overall, Owen Marecic – FB, Stanford:

On the Notre Dame game last year when he scored an offensive and defensive touchdown – “It was a great game, very fun. It was awesome to get a win at Notre Dame. We hadn’t done that my time here so it was good to be a part of a team that could do that. For those plays, I always say it’s more a testament to the team than to myself. Stepfan Taylor took the ball, like 40 or 60 yards hard down the very physical Notre Dame defense. He got the ball down to about the one inch line and I just had to get it in from there. Then coming back on defense Matt Masifilo, our defensive lineman, had a great rush on the quarterback and was right in his face when he threw the ball, so all I had to do was catch it. It was a lot of fun. It was great to be a part of a couple plays that kind of clinched the game in our favor, but it was a typical display of what a team has to do collectively to win a ballgame.”

On if he still stays in touch with his Pop Warner Coach, Clay Matthews – “I’m great friends with his son, Casey Matthews, who was actually just drafted by the Eagles I believe. We still keep in touch. It’s been fun, this process, through the Combine, the Senior Bowl. We’ve kept running into each other and catching up so it’s fun.”

Round 4 / 102 overall, Jordan Cameron – TE, USC:

On the type of football player he is – “I will be a good football player for you guys.  I am excited about this.  This is awesome.” 

On his video with Blake Griffin – “We are good family friends.  We played pickup basketball in the summer.  We had this idea of showcasing my athleticism a little bit and getting my name out there and kind of market myself. It kind of evolved into this little skit with my agent being involved with it.  It turned out pretty well.” 

On what he will be able to bring to the Browns – “I am pretty athletic.  I can move pretty well and I have a lot of improvement to do, but I am willing to learn.  I am excited to embrace this process as a tight end and get really into football and really serious about this with good coaching.  I can create some mismatches with my athletic ability and stretch the field a little bit.”

Round 2 / 59 overall, Greg Little – WR, UNC:

On his one year layoff from football – “It was really tough for me. I learned a tremendous amount of how to deal with success. Just being able to deal with it at such an adverse time, I think I’ve grown a lot from it. A lot of my morals and values have changed so much just from sitting out that year. I’m so hungry and ready to get back and play. It just baffles me sometimes.”

On being the Browns number one receiver – “Quite frankly, I just feel like that’s something that is earned, especially in this league. I feel like that is a challenge that I am ready to step up to the plate and accept. I think those are some of the things that push me, that I’m always willing to accept the bigger challenges.”

On if playing running back at UNC influenced his style at wide receiver – “Most certainly it did. It made me a more physical, downhill runner. I think that’s where I can kind of excel from that, just from having played, earlier on, running back in my career.”

Round 2 / 37 overall, Jabaal Sheard – DL, Pitt:

On his bravery medal for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home – “I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood. It was a house that was like smoking and the fire alarm was going off.  Nobody reacted, everybody just watched it. I was probably about 11 at the time so me and a couple of my friends were riding bikes around the neighborhood and we happened to see that the house was smoking and the fire alarm going off. We ran over and tried to break in and then we ran to call the police and came back and started breaking in. Just as we were breaking in, the fire truck arrived, so they came and got us out of the way and got in there. It just happened there was an elderly women that had slipped and was unconscious and it just so happened that we did it just in time because it could have been worse than what it was.”

On comparing his style to James Harrison’s – “Just as far as aggressiveness, his motor.”

On his mentality on the field – “I’m always thinking of getting to the quarterback or whoever has got the ball in their hands. I’m aggressive. I want to be the hardest hit. I want to make that hit where the crowd goes ‘Oooh’ and then everybody just screams. I want to be the talk of the game so I like to watch him play. He’s very aggressive. He gets off the ball fast. I think guys fear him. Guys really don’t want to go up against him and that’s the guy I want to be. That’s the guy I like to play like when I go up against every week. When I talk to guys that I played in the past, I want them to be like, ‘Man, you we’re something else. I never want to play against you again.’ That’s the kind of feedback I want to get from my game.”

Round 1 / 21 overall, Phil Taylor – DL, Baylor:

On what he knows about Ahtyba Rubin – “I’ve heard some things about him from the fans.  They say we will be a good tandem in the middle.” 

On the rivalry with the Steelers facing Ben Roethlisberger – “I know how much the Cleveland fans hate Pittsburgh and I look forward to the matchup.  He is a great quarterback, but when I am going to play against him, he is going to go down.”

  • bobby

    If the top 3 picks turn out to be as sold then it will be a solid draft. Anything else is bonus. Owen will probably be solid too. Hopefully Pinkston turns out decent and can take either the RG or RT spot eventually. Not expecting it from the start though.

  • historycat

    good answer Jason, just make sure it isn’t a goodwill in this area or I my buy it just to light it on fire.

  • yerfdog

    im most excited about jordan cameron freaky athletic

  • WarbVIII

    kinda like almost everthing we did…but don’t get the full back and the tight end,can sort of forgive the second but hate the first. Then again if he was drafted to be JUST a special teams warrior I can get behind it. On another note I both applaud and wonder about the Falcons trade,I give it props cause it was a good trade and we are not just looking for bodies,I wonder because the WE were just looking for bodies with the Mangini trade of which all but Ratcliff were starters in the players and the first round pick. Yet,this last trade is considered awesome, but the other poorly. Different times,different drafts,different needs are never spoken of…if the first trade by Mangini is bad this one isn’t better and might not be since it depends on the next draft. Sometimes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush you might say. Overall I give the draft about a C for the Browns mainly because I hate turning the thing on early and then finding out I have 15-20 picks before my team drafts, when I was expecting to watch for maybe a half an hour instead of almost the whole first round.

  • Chucky Brown

    I think Little may end up being a steal

  • Warthog

    WarbVIII – The FB is to replace Vickers and the TE will be an experiment with Evan Moore as the model. Love Evan, but he’s got to stay healthy. It’s silly to judge the draft so soon. How often have we seen Baylor or Pitt play much less Chattanooga! We’ll see in September if these guys can play. Hardesty still ranks as the biggest mystery pick to me. World of talent but totally injury prone…the world is filled with those guys and we still picked him. Hope he heals and gets on the field. He could be a key to our season being 8-8 or 10-6.

  • brownsfan019

    Nice compilation.

  • Marcus

    WOW! I’m a huge Browns “homer” but did that just say 4 All Pros and 2 HOFers? Bro’ if you can evaluate and project talent like that why aren’t you in someone’s front office? Maybe mix in a little decaf and slow down just a tad! If we end up with that type of talent this is the best draft in Browns history and maybe league history up there with a couple of the Bears and 49ers drafts.

  • Tyrone

    Why can we just draft football players instead of athletes and try to turn them into football players. How could we pass on Haywood!

  • http://clevelandbrownsnflagony.blogspot.com/ BrownsNFLAgony

    3 immediate starters in Taylor, Sheard and Marecic. A few others who could play a lot this season and possibly start. If Little and Cameron work out and the others stay out of trouble it could be a better class than last year. If it isn’t at least they can try again in 2012 with 2 first-rounders.

  • Crew

    @8 Hey brah. He was being sarcastic, brah.