It is May. The draft has come and gone. Has the glow of the draft-day trade by Tom Heckert worn off yet? In some senses, it will be a long year watching the Atlanta Falcons to see how Matt Ryan performs with his new weapon Julio Jones. Ryan threw for just over 3700 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2010. Add Julio Jones to Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Jenkins. That isn’t even to mention a nearly 1400 yard rusher in Michael Turner. The last few sentences are exactly the reason why it is so ponderous to hear ProFootballTalk say that Julio Jones and Greg Little will forever be inextricably tied to one another in the NFL.
The Browns used the second round pick acquired from Atlanta to select Greg Little. From that standpoint, it seems highly logical. They both play the same position. The Browns seemingly passed on Jones directly, as he was the only logical pick left on the board that high, at least according to most people. But is it fair to make the comparison?
Maybe I am being an over-protective parent here, but I say no. Maybe I am protecting Greg Little like I would my youngest son who is following a superstar older brother. Maybe I am Archie Manning protecting Eli here. First of all, Greg Little is a year behind in terms of development because he sat out last season due to NCAA troubles. Second of all, Greg Little was in the midst of a position transition from running back to wide receiver. Third of all, Greg Little will do battle this season with Colt McCoy, Massaquoi, Robiskie, Ben Watson and Peyton Hillis.
While I prefer to look at that crew with a glass half full hopefulness, I would never begin to compare them to Matt Ryan and company. Maybe someday, I will be lucky enough to be able to do that with a straight face. Not today, though.
A true comparison for Julio Jones will be made five to ten years down the road. The Browns will have Greg Little, two extra draft picks in next year’s draft and currently untold dollars of cap space available to put on the scale opposite Julio Jones. See what I did there? Instead of putting all the pressure on Greg Little, shouldn’t we be aiming it all at the guy – Julio Jones – who was worth five guys capable of saying they were worthy of being in the NFL draft?
Speaking of the draft, what about all those undrafted free agents that normally would have been snatched up in the few hours after “Mr. Irrelevant” was selected? ESPN is reporting that (SURPRISE!) NFL teams might be “tampering” with the process and contacting players and their agents during the lockout. That might be one of the least surprising reports to come out in quite some time. You know what though? I will be disappointed if the Cleveland Browns aren’t one of those teams.
That was my biggest defense for the Cleveland Browns whiffing on David Veikune in the 2009 draft. Sometimes bad draft picks happen. In this case, Veikune was deemed irrelevant partially because the Browns had capitalized by finding Marcus Benard who deserved to stick around far more than the converted 4-3 defensive end from Hawaii.
So, yeah, I hope the Browns are using “burners” to reach out to anyone who will help get undrafted free agents into camp assuming there is going to be any kind of camp this season.
And that is really how every Browns article should end from here on out. ”Assuming we even have an NFL season this year…”