It’s Never Too Early to Talk NFL Draft in Cleveland

The Cleveland Browns are bad and they are depressing to watch. There are a lot of standard coping strategies to deal with depression. One of the biggies that I’ve used over the years if I was especially beaten down by work or had some winter blahs was to buy concert tickets. That would give me an event in the future that I could get excited about and look forward to. For Browns fans, I think it is time to look forward to the Cleveland Browns’ version of the Super Bowl: The NFL Draft.

I have been saying recently that this year’s draft is the most important since Phil Savage and the Browns got the Brady Quinn pick wrong. I thought it was a nice measured risk at the time, but we all know how it played out. Anyway, Tom Heckert and the Browns placed serious emphasis on this draft when they traded down with Atlanta a year ago. That trade ended up causing the Browns to take Phil Taylor in the first round. They used Atlanta’s second rounder for Greg Little. They used Atlanta’s fourth rounder on Owen Marecic. Finally, they will have Atlanta’s 1st rounder in the upcoming 2012 draft. So, let’s look ahead to that.

I won’t pretend to be an expert mock drafter.  I lean heavily on others who have been practicing it for years.  Today, I am looking at just for kicks.  In their early, speculative mock draft, they’re guessing the Browns might have the 7th and 15th picks in the draft.  They have the Browns selecting Quinton Coples, DE from North Carolina with the 7th pick.  They’ve got the Browns grabbing Riley Reiff, OT from Iowa with the 15th pick.  Finally they have the Browns selecting WR Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers with the 39th pick in round 2.  What’s next?  Youtube.

First up, Quinton Coples…

Next up, Reilly Reiff. Ohio State fans can skip to the 4:20 mark for his highlights against the Buckeyes…

Finally, Mohamed Sanu…

And don’t miss Sanu’s circus catch against North Carolina…

The likelihood that the draft will play out this way isn’t particularly good because it is far too early to project the Browns’ picks or who will be available. Remember the premise from the beginning. Just start thinking about the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Browns need to get better in many phases of the game. I wouldn’t be upset if the Browns went to work at the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively. The Browns need to find a right tackle in the worst way, and even with the positive signs on the defensive line from the young guys, it would be nice to have some depth and maybe have Jayme Mitchell coming off the bench to spell Jabaal Sheard and someone like Quinton Coples.

  • Big Z

    Right on time Craig! Midway through the season and we’re talking about the draft! I personally think that Giving the Browns the 7th pick is quite optimistic… I’m thinking 3rd or 4th, right up there with Indy, Miami, STL, and Arizona… as usual.

  • oribiasi

    Please, please please go for Landry Jones. The kid is under the Luck radar screen and can be picked with our first pick. He can throw the ball 200 yards at once and can hit every receiver in the hands. Spend the rest of the picks on some OL and he will make our offense 100x better. With the return of Steinbach and possibly another RT (either through Free Agency or the draft) and Jones, good things are bound to happen.

  • mgbode

    @oribiasi – I’m thinking Landry Jones goes to the loser of the Luck Sweepstakes. Right now, Miami looks like that team (3 wins may be too many to get a top2 pick and I expect another couple wins).

    Heck, I think Barkely (possibly the 3rd best QB in this class) might even go #3 depending on which team ends up there (StL wouldn’t take him for instance).

    What I am afraid of is reaching for a QB at #5-10 if we miss out on the best ones and end up with a Tannehill (I think he will be terrible in the NFL).


    I do want to see Heckert go offense with both picks in the 1st round. We need an influx of talent on offense, desperately.

  • Subadai

    What if we wind up w/ No 2? It’s possible. Do we take Matt Barkley? I wouldn’t mind that. And then the best OL available w/ ATLs pick.

  • Eric D

    Outside of Andrew Luck, Justin Blackmon is looking more and more like the best player in this draft. He also fills a bit of a need for the Browns. I wouldn’t be opposed to moving up for him if we had to. Right Tackle needs to be priority #2.

  • Mike E

    If we draft a QB high do we start him right away? What kind of trade value does McCoy have, if any?

  • Ben

    Brad Wing.

  • Vagabond

    The Browns have an SEC QB and a Big 12 Defense. I’m concerned Holmgren and Heckert may be dyslexic.

  • -bobby-

    I would love that draft if the browns had it. Coples would be sick opposite of Sheard. Then pick up a RT (with the addition of Steinbach hopefully fixes the OL problems). And Sanu is a boss. Ive watched a few Rutgers games this year and he stands out for sure. Teams try to shut him down but he gets open and has terrific hands. If they decide not to go the QB route early, those peices would help McCoy out immensely. Make it happen.

  • stin4u

    I really believe they need to get one of the big three receivers (1. Floyd 2. Blackmon 3.Jeffery) with that first pick.

    As for the second, I’m not crazy about spending a first rounder on a RT because I think you can find quality in later rounds at that position. It would be nice to snag a stud linebacker like Te’o or Kuechly, or possibly a high end defensive back to pair with Joe Haden.

    I do think they will, and should, use a later pick in the draft on another project QB. Maybe a fourth of fifth round pick. Also, I think they should use one of those middle round picks to get another RB. Hardesty is proving he’s not reliable to stay on the field and the Hillis situation speaks for itself. Doug Martin for Boise looks awfully good and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

  • oribiasi

    @ mgbode: Of course, if we don’t get Jones then we shouldn’t reach. Barkely, to me, could be pretty good, but I’m just not as impressed with him as I am with Jones. In this league you need an amazing, over the top athlete at the QB position to be a Super Bowl contender. Jones can be in that neighborhood if not better than an Eli Manning. We need his skills very badly.

    I like the idea of Blackmon but you can’t get both. We need someone to throw the damned ball more than we need someone to catch it. A competent/amazing QB can make average WRs look better. The inverse is not true.

  • oribiasi

    @ Mike E: McCoy is worth something like a 2nd rounder and/or a 3rd rounder. You might get like a 5th/6th in addition to that. Remember the Brady Quinn deal? We needed to jettison that sorry excuse for a QB and we actually got a very strong RB who has problems attending PR-events AND a 6th rounder. But then you’d have to find the right team to “need” him and I don’t know if they’re out there.

    He has proven that he is tough player, very solid person and a good teammate. Other than that…he is very average. The league is filled with guys like that who sit on benches.

    Also, keep in mind, if Lloyd is worth a 6th round pick and you only presumably get him for a year, the going rate for a slightly below average QB most be higher, especially if you get him for longer than one season.

  • David

    The Browns will not be drafting any defensive player first. That is a sure bet.

  • Jeremy

    Coples is alright I wouldnt use a top 10 pick on him though. Just watching his highlights looks like he has good push but cant shed blocks. Plus do we really need another end? I think Mitchell has been alright this year. Reiff looks like a fantastic pass blocker but not a great run blocker. Even in the positive part he was getting hit and not getting great movement on the run blocking. Sanu another possesion reciever do we really need another one of them? Need to take Alshon Jeffery out of Scar. But thats just my thoughts.

  • Robbie

    If you want to know where the Browns are going to pick, just figure-out the number of what are commonly believed the top tier prospects coming-out and add 1 to that number.

    Regardless of how these prospects have turned-out, I think the past three seasons have watched the guy everyone hoped would drop get snatched JUST before the Browns pick. (I’m thinking Aaron Curry, Patrick Peterson and Eric Berry.)

    Only reason it probably didn’t happen five years in a row is the fact that Phil Savage gave away the Browns 2008 1st rounder.

  • Shamrock

    OMG u people are sick if you want another rookie QB selected especially if it’s the first round. Only rookie QB in round 1 is Andrew Luck. And seriously a DE? C’mon already…OL, WR, LB and CB period. Spend some money in free agency and get your RG & RT after that draft some talent I.e. Speed, size & agility. Hey Heckert here is a clue: watch the SEC play particularly on defense.

  • Mark

    I’ll bet the Browns take a good long look at Matt Flynn, the Packers backup who will be a free agent this offseason. He has been tutored in the WCO for 3 years now and signing him would seem like a Holmgren type of move. He has gotten his QBs from other teams rosters before in Favre and Hasselbeck. I’m not giving up on Colt but I for one would like to see Colt have a little competition this offseason. Plus, we could use our 2 1st rounders on other areas on need. Lord knows we have needs.

  • Shamrock

    Vagabond – touché, great one!

    Robbie – and Curry could have been traded for and how about Aaron Maybin who was a FA? I mean the Browns don’t try or do anything. That’s what is so frustrating and why I just laugh now. Honestly I hope they continue to be embarrassed on the field maybe it’ll wake someone up.

  • eldaveablo

    I think it’s important to remember that as a rule, Heckert takes best player available. So, filling specific needs isn’t his approach.

    That said, RB had to shoot to near the top of needs. Hillis is looking like more & more like a goner, Hardesty hasn’t shown much, and I don’t see Brandon Jackson as a long term fix.

    RBs can be major contributors as rookies, especially compared to most WRs or QBs. Maybe I’m falling in love with the flavor of the month, but I sure like Trent Richardson. It of course depends on where we end up drafting, but I would like to see him running for the Browns on Sundays.

  • veverkap

    What about RB like Trent Richardson with the first round pick?

  • Craig Lyndall

    I would love to use a third rounder or fourth rounder on a running back… or use multiple picks to trade up into the second round to grab a fallen first round RB…

    Don’t want to take RB in the first round though. There is no Adrian Peterson in this draft, I don’t think.

  • Mac

    Based on what I’ve seen so far this year. I think Trent Richardson may be the real deal. His career depends on what team he goes to. If he goes to Denver, I’m not sure he will do well. If he comes here, i think he might do well.

  • Matt

    All Mohammed receiving corps?

  • Titus Pullo

    Stud defensive player (lineman, linebacker, DB, doesn’t matter)and a right tackle in the first round.

    After that, just keep plugging the dyke; there are still so many holes to fill that whoever the Browns pick will fill a need.

  • Chris214

    Do you package your top 2 picks this year and future 1 to Indy for Luck? Figure we would still have our second rounder (top 40 overall) to address the line and rounds 3-5 can be best available?

  • Du

    Not sure what to think anymore. Colt McCoy does not look good…nor does he look anything like the QB we saw last season. Is he really this bad? I don’t think so. He has zero help and yet most are ready to throw him under the bus. You could see the deep frustration in his eyes yesterday.

    So, I guess I am still leaning toward a stud WR and a RT.

    BTW…The Browns better not even think about trading down.

  • Brendon

    @24 – It’s going to take a lot more than that, but I agree, give up whatever it takes to get Luck.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    If any team understands the value of a stud franchise QB, it’s Indy. With Manning, they are a playoff team. Without him, they might not win a game.

    No way they trade that pick, and no way they take anyone but Luck. Unless we get the #1 pick the old fashioned way (not likely), we aren’t getting Luck.

    If I was Tom Heckert, I would be looking at:

    Pick #1 – WR
    Pick #2 – O-line
    Pick #3 – LB or CB
    Pick #4 – RB or O-line
    Pick #5 – whatever you didn’t take with pick #4

    If Landry Jones is there with pick #1, I might re-think that, but I am prepared to go into next season with McCoy at QB. With a healthy, upgraded offense and a full off-season to learn the scheme, there will be no more excuses.

  • Keith

    Why would the Browns and how many holes to fill on both sides of the ball, pull a N.O. deal (Ricky Willaims) and trade all their picks for Luck, why?? Too many holes to fill and who is to say that Luck would be the savior..

  • jimkanicki

    do exactly what the niners did last year: two offensive linemen in the first round.

    oh, and sign jim harbaugh as HC.

    if we knew -KNEW- that a ‘playmaking’ LB could be had, i’d jump on that. but this seems highly unpredictable whereas 1st rd o-line have a relatively low ‘bust’ rate.

  • Robbie

    @BuckeyeDawg — That order is pretty much my feeling if their first 1st rounder is top ten.

    If Steinbach could come back 100%, it would be nice to get a low 1st round tackle for the right side. That added with a true #1 WR would be nice to see.

    Overall, I’m not all that terribly upset about Heckertt not being a mover-and-shaker in free agency this season. I was fine with them holding onto their picks and seeing what they had. It just sucks that the decimation at OL and RB have completely destroyed any semblance of a running game… so you can tell where I sit on the chicken-and-egg question.

  • jimkanicki

    @30robbie, i hear you on the FA lack of activity. but let me offer a counterpoint. prefaced with this is just me as a fan watching and i don’t know if these things were ever possible in the first place or if heckert pursued them. but. here were some opportunities last year that a mover/shaker might have made a play for:

    logan mankins in acrimonious hold-out with patriots.
    aaron smith benched by niners.
    steve smith utterly non-productive on the matt moore panthers.
    cliff avril 2nd round tendered by the lions.

    i would sleep better if i knew that heckert was aware of these situations and consciously ruled them out. if these guys didn’t get on his radar at all… i think it’s a problem.

  • Shawn

    To the guy that said we could get a #2 or #3 for Colt + a 5th/6th rounder: If he was playing at that type of level to warrant that, why would we trade him? And, since he isn’t (to this point), why would any team trade away that much for him? Non-sensical.

    On that website, they also have the 3rd round mocked. They project us taking LeMichael James. That would be an interesting selection in my opinion and would have great value. I don’t see him falling to the 3rd round but even if we could get a Boom Herron in the 3rd or 4th, it would be wise to do so. You can never have enough RB’s.

    There is only 1 “must” in the 1st round in my opinion and that is a RT. If we don’t pick one up in the 1st then it was a waste. With the second 1st rounder (either pick, doesn’t matter), I would be happy with a top DE, WR, or CB. I would say LB but Heckert’s history proves he doesn’t take LB’s in the 1st round. As usual, the key rounds are 2-4.

    I don’t think the Browns need to jettison Colt. Give him a full year with a healthy line, better weapons on the outisde, and an assemblance of a run game, and I think he will show he can win in the league. No to Barkley or Jones.

  • EdgewaterJoe

    Threats. The Browns need threats with those two picks — an offensive threat that can take the ball and score, and a defensive threat that can pound the QB and move laterally. I’m a little sick of continually drafting WRs in the second round with the hope that one of them can emerge as a #1 (as much of a head case Edwards was, he still had the speed), but I admit I also wouldn’t cry to get one more OL.

    As for QB … if the Browns want to take a project in the 4th round, fine, but I’m of the camp that McCoy has nobody to throw it to and no receiver that apparently can recognize a blitz and signal that he should be Colt’s hot read. I also think Landry has accuracy problems, and modern-day USC QBs have a reputation of being prima donna head cases that the Browns don’t need more of (hear me, Peyton?).

    (And I’ve been looking at the mock drafts since the Browns got two 1st rounders. Remember, Savage’s drafts have been blowout busts while Heckert’s drafts have been insanely productive. Heckert I trust.)

  • Wheel

    Funny this article came up today, because a similar depression led me to Walter after yesterday’s debacle. It’s so obvious we need guys that can score touchdowns. Justin Blackmon or Trent Richardson would be great. RB and WR have got to be the top priority. Next should be the OL. Halfway into the season, I am starting to regret Hecket’s big draft day move.

  • Woods

    Have to agree 100% with BuckeyeDawg…Couldn’t have written it better. Also agree with Shamrock and Du.

    I don’t think that the Browns (and us fans) know what they have with McCoy since he has no running game and when he passes, he is running for his life and trying to throw to receivers that get very little separation. Granted – he has been a lot less accurate this year…Although not as erratic as Anderson or Quinn. (On a related subject, Why are the Browns running play action when they have no running threat and you are down by 3 touchdowns?)

    To expand upon BuckeyeDawg wrote:

    Pick #1 – WR – Alshon Jeffrey
    Pick #2 – O-line – Anyone but Levy Adcock – I have a broken ankle from jumping off that bandwagon. He looked terrible against Missouri. A RT can do wonders for the team.
    Pick #3 – LB or CB – Bruce Irvin LB UWV or Minniefield CB UVA
    Pick #4 – RB or O-line
    Pick #5 – whatever you didn’t take with pick #4

    If you disagree with me that is fine. I have a question for you though. “Would you trade the two picks in the first round this year and next years number one to draft Andrew Luck?” My answer would be no…because he would would look like Couch in 1999 or McCoy of this year. HOWEVER – I will freely admit that a good case can be made that I am wrong since the rest of the picks and free agency could be used to shore up the offensive line and to get some type of number one receiver. Maybe a number one receiver would want to come to Cleveland if Luck will be the QB.

    I guess that Heckert is having these conversations with his staff every day. It would be great to be a fly on the wall as a fan.

    Go Browns…

  • Jack

    Though it is hard to evaluate how Colt McCoy can play in a game situation, due to a beat up line and sub-par running backs as starters. We do know Colt does not have nearly as close of the arm you need to throw the ball in this league, his 5 step and 3 step drops are incredibly slow, and his measurable’s are bad. He is overall a 6-1 215 pound backup or third string quarterback, that needs a near perfect line, great running back, numerous and great wide receivers along with a great defense. Without those, he is nothing but a backup at most.

    What I am bringing about is reasons why we need to draft at first a quarterback, then more offensive weapons. I believe that Landry jones, Andrew Luck, and Matt Barkley will all be gone with in the picks before us. Leaving the browns with the possibility to draft Robert Griffin III. Robert does have better measurable’s, as he is 6-3 220 pounds. He was formerly a track star in high school, meaning he has the ability to run. His arm is almost 3 times better than Colt’s, where Robert can throw a deep ball with zip including a good amount of accuracy. He already does play in a similar offense to the browns, dink and dunk off to receivers with occasional deep throws and does this with success. Lastly, he also comes from Japan due to his parents being former military sergeants, showing some signs of discipline. Overall, I would say that Robert Griffin III would be a quality pick. He has measurable’s, an arm, the ability to run, and plays in a similar system.

    Robert Griffin III would be a quality pick.

    Also, I present some ideas for other picks (rounds 1-4).

    Round 1: Trent Richardson RB
    Overall we do need a running back badly. I think if he is available, the browns should and will take him. If not I see Robert Griffin iii or Quinton Coples being picked.

    Round 1(Atlanta’s pick): Robert Griffin III QB
    Personally, I would wait to take Griffin here, IF trent richardson was available for the first pick.

    Round 2: Kendall Wright WR
    Teammate of Robert Griffin III and a fast guy in which the browns really could use.

    Round 3:Kevin Zeitler OG
    We need some help on the line, and anyone would be better that what we have. With this guy, hes big, and plays in a tough big 10 division.

    Round 4: LaMichael James
    probably not available, but he is a complete burner in the open field, in which the browns are not a fast team

    Just some ideas,

  • Ezzie

    I have to agree with some of those above… I just don’t think it’s fair to judge Colt who is literally playing by himself out there. When he has time he has been quite accurate, he just never has time and he never has an open WR to throw to.

    Get Blackmon with that first pick, and a top RT with the second one. Take a top corner to play opposite Haden to start the second round – preferably one who is better in run support than Sheldon Brown (shouldn’t take much).

    Your team is suddenly leaps and bounds improved:

    An OL including Steinbach and a great rookie RT, and now guys like Lavauo or Pinkston and Pashos are your substitute OL instead of starting – that’s good depth (I don’t believe they’re so bad, but having them all forced to start like this is a recipe for disaster). Your WR corps now has Blackmon, Little, and if he recovers from these head injuries, Mohammed Massoquai as a #3 (or #2 and Little as a #3) – that’s really solid.

    Your defense would also be light years ahead with a shutdown CB and a solid rookie CB covering #2 WRs, and a DL that will now be in its second full season together.

    We would then get to see just how good (or not) Colt really is, with an offense with a full season in this system under its belt and some legitimate weapons and blocking. If Colt isn’t the answer, that’s fine – find a QB in the next draft who is for this system and finish off the team then.

    And to top it off, Reggie Hodges will be back! :)

  • -bobby-

    I am with Jim on this one. We need to build the lines up. I doubt we go with 2 OL in the first. Thats why I really like the projection in the first round (position wise). Mitchell is not that good of a DE, and we still have no depth.

    As for the WRs, hopefully we can utilize Moore and Jordan next year. Moore consistently is a go-to on 3rd downs (when he gets in the game) and Jordan has all the talent to have a Jimmy Graham effect here. I dont know Sanu’s speed, I thought it was decent but I dont have his numbers to back it. I do know he can get open and he can catch tho. I could him and Little working well of each other, with Cribbs/MoMass rounding the WR core out and us utilizing our TEs like NE.

    too bad that offensive plan fits our players and is out of the realm of possibility for Shurmer…

  • MarkS

    I’m not ready to give up on Colt. He may turn out to be a backup QB someday but superbowls have been won with average QBs – think Trent Dilfer. We have more pressing needs.

  • morgan

    Sell out for Landry Jones and Blackmon. Package whatever and whoever, you get those two and were probably set for a decade. Expense gamble, probably doesn’t happen, but that’s a big boy step to get this team “right”.

  • BennyBrownsFan

    You guys are amazing. After this weekend my first thought went to the draft.

    Glad I checked WFNY before trying to pull up 17 prognosticators Mock Drafts.

    Thank you and Go Browns (draft).

  • ben

    If we went something like Stud-WR, O-Line, O-Line, I think i’d be okay. Assume the WR is worth the pick, and hope one of the two linemen work out.

  • Nick

    I will be very surprised if this front offense doesn’t go all offense in the first round. They need playmakers, and they need offensive line. I think the team has been ok on D, with the exception of what happened against the Texans and Titans. I will be interested to see what they do with Colt. If they have the seventh pick in the draft, and Holmgren isn’t sold on Colt, they definitely make a move to move up and get one of the three guys everyone is high on this year coming out of the draft. If they want to give Colt one more season, they will take hopefully 2 playmakers in round one and a right tackle in round 2. They have gone defense the first round in both of the previous drafts…they will need to put some effort on the offensive side of the ball coupled with new play caller on offense.

    Excellent website by the way. Very good insight on the team.

  • stin4u

    Landry Jones is turning into this years Jake Locker.

  • ian

    enough of the role players dudes. 2 names. RB Trent Richardson BAMA and WR Justin Blackmon OKST. We need points on the board here. Our defense is constantly on the field they can do so much.

  • Jack

    Referring to the comment comparing Trent Dilfer to Colt McCoy, I find it hard to believe the browns as a whole team even compare. During that super bowl year with the Ravens, Trent Dilfer was used to hand the ball of to their stellar running back Jamal Lewis. Also, their offense wasn’t their strong point…their defense was best in the league. Trent was surrounded by a great running back, and great defense. I do not see the browns having either.