Browns NFL Draft Needs: Guard or Defensive Playmaker?

NCAA Football: Alabama at Arkansas

To keep up the flow of roundtable conversations this week, I bring to you a discussion I’ve had with long-time friend and occasional writer Jordan Marks, who blogs for Dawg Pound Daily. We tackle the major NFL Draft needs of the Browns and a number of prospects that could be a good fit. Let’s hear your take in the comments.

Jacob: Copied below is a lil spreadsheet of some NFL draft big boards — I picked eight different ones. You’ll see the top 19 guys; the clear players that separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

Position breakdown: 1 QB; 1 WR; 5 O-linemen; 2 LB; 2 CB; 4 DT; 4 DE

# Name Pos School Avg
1 Jarvis Jones* OLB Georgia 2.33
2 Star Lotulelei DT Utah 2.67
3 Luke Joeckel* OT Texas A&M 3.83
4 Manti Te’o ILB Notre Dame 5.67
5 Bjoern Werner DE Florida State 6.17
6 Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 6.83
7 Dee Milliner CB Alabama 9.83
8 Barkevious Mingo* DE LSU 10.33
9 Chance Warmack OG Alabama 10.50
10 Johnathan Hankins* DT Ohio State 10.83
11 Geno Smith QB West Virginia 11.17
12 Taylor Lewan OT Michigan 13.17
13 Jake Matthews* OT Texas A&M 14.80
14 Sam Montgomery* DE LSU 16.17
15 Johnthan Banks CB Mississippi State 16.20
16 Keenan Allen WR California 16.40
17 Sheldon Richardson DT Missouri 17.17
17 Jonathan Cooper OG North Carolina 17.17
19 Johnathan Jenkins DT Georgia 19.67

 

Goes to hit on my point from my last WFNY draft article about the dominance of D-line prospects, and absence of offensive skill players. Last time, I expressed my love for Jarvis Jones. With the Browns’ current standing in the NFL Draft (see below), I don’t know if he’s necessarily an option. So what are the needs?

1. Kansas City Chiefs – 2-12 (.469 SOS)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – 2-12 (.541 SOS)
3. Oakland Raiders – 4-10 (.469 SOS)
4. Philadelphia Eagles – 4-10 (.505 SOS)
5. Detroit Lions – 4-10 (.546 SOS)
6. San Diego Chargers – 5-9 (.474 SOS)
7. Cleveland Browns – 5-9 (.480 SOS)
8. Buffalo Bills – 5-9 (.500 SOS)
9. Tennessee Titans – 5-9 (.526 SOS)
10. Carolina Panthers – 5-9 (.536 SOS)
11. Arizona Cardinals – 5-9 (.543 SOS)
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6-8 (.469 SOS)
13. Miami Dolphins – 6-8 (.500 SOS)
14. New York Jets – 6-8 (.526 SOS)
15. New Orleans Saints – 6-8 (.528 SOS)
16. St. Louis Rams – 6-7-1 (.536 SOS)

Jordan: I break down the Browns needs as follows (in order of importance): CB, Guard, WR, Pass Rushing OLB/DE, FS.

Sheldon Brown is awful at corner, though I think his leadership and skills would be best suited at FS. Move him there immediately to see if he can hack it there like he used to in Philly. That leaves a gaping hole at corner next year.

When Haden was down, we were awful against the pass. That’s unacceptable. As good as Haden is, our defense can’t drastically change like it did if he’s hurt or on Adderall. I’m going to do more research on Milliner and Banks to see which I like best. If either stick out to me, I think they are prime candidates in round 1.

However, I also like the idea of signing a free agent hold-over at corner for a few reasons. One, corners cover the receiver. That’s the same on every team. I look at it as the least risky position to sign in free agency. That said, the free agent cannot be older than 28 years old. Sheldon Brown was over 30 when we brought him in, therefore we immediately saw diminishing skills from him.

Secondly, you can get really good cornerbacks in the middle-to-late first round selections, so I’m okay with signing a veteran and drafting a youngster in two or so years. Lastly, we have other major needs, so it’s okay if we go elsewhere first.

I might argue that offensive guard is actually our biggest need. We are certainly stable at tackle and center, but the guards are contributing to Trent Richardson’s 3.5 yards a carry. Chance Warmack has been called the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson. Sign me up. Now. I think this would be a bigger impact on the offensive side of the ball than drafting a wide receiver.

Jacob: I think a pass-rushing DE/OLB is a higher priority than you have listed. We do have a solid defensive line that has continued to play well recently — especially against the run. And Phil Taylor and Ahytba Rubin have only played a few games together. But we don’t have a marquee pass-rusher yet that teams fear. That should be a priority.

Also, this JPEG to the left via Dawgs By Nature is why Browns fans are always so delusional. These folks do realize the Browns are 5-9 and still several pieces — even with QB aside — away from contending? The Steelers, although old, still have made the playoffs in 8/11 seasons. And with two more home wins, they’re back again this year.

There eventually were some more constructive comments after a rough start, but I think the steadfast stubbornness of Browns fans is optimistic at best, delusional and pathetic at worst.

And with the news this week about the new Browns president, I think my Dad said it best: “Get me some players … not execs. We all thought Holmgren was the greatest also.”

Jordan: Yeah, these people done lost they minds. I agree that we don’t have a truly feared sack artist. I will also say that I meant to have WR after DE/OLB.

However, I still think our needs at corner and guard are bigger because corner is absolutely the most glaring need I see this season and guard impacts our offense in a very large way because it will be adding to what we’re already best at; running the football.

To have the opportunity to make a draft pick that makes one element of your team elite is something the Browns cannot afford to pass up. One more great cornerback, and we have an elite secondary. One more awesome guard, and we have an elite (and young) offensive line. One more pass rusher could potentially do that as well, though, so I understand going that route.

I guess my reluctance to go after a pass rusher is because of the available prospects. I know that this year’s class features many defensive ends and outside linebackers at the top of the Big Board. However, I also don’t love very many of them and feel that an overall down year in college football is attributing to it.

It also seems that we will be out of contention for Jarvis Jones, but I don’t mind. To me, he continues to show that he is much better in the second half of plays as opposed to the first half. This will make his transition tougher because everyone has a motor and physical tools in the NFL. Jones’ biggest plays come after chasing down people at the end of plays and being relentless at sacking quarterbacks who are scattered in the pocket. Both of those plays are less likely to occur at the next level.

I don’t see Jones being the Von Miller-esque impact kind of player that many make him out to be (but I’m wrong a lot). As far as other prospects go, I LOVE Damontre Moore. Yet it looks like he’s going to stay at Texas A&M next year. The reason I like Moore is because he shows a number of ways he gets to the quarterback.

In the NFL, you can’t be one-dimensional in your moves to the quarterback. I, at times, feel Jarvis Jones is that way. I know Moore is a true DE, and Jones is more of an OLB, but Jones doesn’t have the strength to make inside moves. He typically uses an outside move that doesn’t show the impressive “dip” motion that many elite pass rushers have. Moore can dip, rip, chip. He can do just about anything that rhymes with ‘hip’.

Mingo is a project, and I would not support drafting a project over a stud cornerback like Dee Milliner or a great offensive lineman like Chance Warmack. I need to watch more of the defensive end prospects a little more, but I haven’t been wildly impressed thus far by many.

Jacob: Something else you haven’t mentioned yet: LB. The Browns are really weak at that position, and that was already the case before James-Michael Johnson went on the IR this week.

Yes, ILB D’Qwell Jackson is a All-Pro candidate every year he’s healthy. After that? Scott Fujita might not ever play again, we’ve seen a lot of Kaluka Maiava and he’s still mediocre, and the rest of the crew (i.e. undrafted guys like L.J. Fort, Craig Robertson, Tank Carder, etc.) doesn’t really do much for me at all.

Do I necessarily want us to go after a guy like Manti Te’o that early in the draft? Not really, as I agree with you in that Warmack or Milliner could be better fits/values. Jones or Moore strike me as pass-rushers, not necessarily double-digit tackle guys on a consistent basis. But I still think the team should be looking for another impact player here — maybe at least just to replace Fujita.

Jordan: Linebacker is definitely a need. The defensive line’s strong play has covered up a linebacking group that has less depth than a conversation with Lindsey Lohan. I would bring in Te’o if available simply because he’s one of few prospects in this year’s draft that is almost a guaranteed stud at the next level.

This would cause Jackson to move outside in a couple seasons, which because of his leadership, I think he would do. Overall, with needs at cornerback, guard, defensive end, linebacker, wide receiver, and safety, the Browns have many routes they can go. A top 10 draft pick and a projected $40 million in cap space that can be used in free agency will help the Browns continue to add pieces to an already improving roster. And the best part: Randy Lerner has nothing to do with any of it.

(Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE)

  • Porckchopexpress

    I think, and this is just my barely informed opinion, that the O and D lines are places where “coaching them up” shines through the most. If Shwartz keeps progressing like he did this year he is going to get an Eric Winston contract in 4 years from some team desperate for line help. If I were in charge (You think Lombardi can be a lap dog yes man? To steal from Winston Zeddemore “If there’s a steady paycheck involved, I say yes to anything you want”) I would spend my 4th and 5th round picks on O and D linemen every year, indoctrinate them into our system and when injury/salary cap issues hit, move the next guy in.

    Sorry for rambling. The point is that a 1st round guard is theoretically going to be better quicker, and command a higher salary which takes away from skill position money. And it means you almost have to draft his replacement in year two of his contract. I think the counter argument to that is what is happening to NE, Pitt, and what happened to Indy, where they have so much money tied up in a QB and WR’s that their lines become depleted and the QBs begin taking beatings. The counter to that counter is wouldn’t you love a 10 year run of dominance followed by 3 years of competitve football while you watch your QB take a worse beating than WIlliam Wallace at the end of Braveheart?

  • Dee P

    Great point on lineman late in the draft. I agree you need some elite first round talent like a LT….but plenty of “coaching up” gems are there every year.

    Look at our examples:

    Rubin – 6th round
    Parker – undrafted free agent
    Winn – 6th round

  • porckchopexpress

    I can’t watch him wind up to throw a 15 yard crossing pattern. I’m not really a Colt hater, I just think he lacks the Physicalitaciousness to play in the National Football League. I know the arguments about him not having weapons or protection, especially having Tony Pashos protecting for him. In fact if you swap Shwartz for Pashos I think Weeden is back playing single A ball by mid October. That being said, on the plays where the less talented line did block, and the untalented recievers did get open, Colt flat out missed them a lot of the time. If you got points for hitting the back shoulder of a reciever going over the middle, or the knees of a guy running an out pattern to the sidelines, Colt would lead the league in scoring. Accuracy was supposed to be his calling card, and he didn’t have it, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but his own. Add that to the fact that recievers had to wait on deep balls like outfielders waiting for a Travis Hafner high pop with RISP, and you simply don’t have a starting quality QB.
    I do want to say that I’m giving Colt the same pass as Weeden in that I think Shurmur mind jobbed them both. I think that his system’s language is incredibly complex to learn and use (based only on interviews, not that I actually “know”) and it is also apparently incredibly easy to decipher for a defensive player. I also think he seems to be an angsty worrier who is sure something is going to go wrong anytime he takes a chance, and I feel like this rubs off on his QBs. Completely just my observations of Shurmur, I don’t have anything concrete to back that up with.

  • porckchopexpress

    Its actually Dan McCoy.
    Nobody wants 6 foot tall 190 lbDan McCoy to be their starting QB. Dan McCoy works in accounting, drives a Prius and absolutly crushes Marketing at the spring picnic touch football game. I swear if God gives me a son I’m naming him Broadwaymarino, and then counting the days till he’s old enough for Cleveland fans to disregard his complete lack of physical tools and pay him huge money because they love saying his name.

  • thepaledragon

    I don’t think our line sucks. We have two first rounders and a second rounder starting every game, and all three have (so far) lived up to their draft position. Successful teams typically have a couple studs on their line, and the rest of the spots are filled by journeymen, who, like porkchopexpress says, get “coached up.”

    The sub-par offensive coaching and playcalling is what has caused any struggles from this line.

  • thepaledragon

    Eh, not really. I think Weeden’s age is overplayed as an issue. Sure, he’s 29, but he doesn’t have 29 years of “football miles.”
    We drafted Weeden to be the starter at QB for the next 8-10 years. In that timeframe he should only be replaced by someone who is a clear upgrade in talent, which I’m not sure Smith is.

  • Henry Brown

    and yet there he was catching a difficult. over his head pass to convert a crucial 4th down against us.

  • Henry Brown

    I think elite OGs are vastly underrated and someday hope to get off my butt and statistically prove how teams that acquire elite Guards are successful. but I still wouldn’t take one until 20-30 spot at the highest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.zanon Chris Zanon

    Draft Warmack, draft Marquess Wilson, sign Jairus Byrd, Rodgers-Cromartie, and Dustin Keller….and for heaven sakes re-sign Phil Dawson.

  • mgbode

    you could also imagine us traveling to a pass-happy team’s dome away from the elements and seeing their QB hang their heads after another failed 3rd down attempt.

  • Jaker

    I miss his musk

  • Dee P

    Exactly.

    And of course he had the drops vs. Pittsburgh a couple weeks later.

  • mgbode

    FA is actually not a good place to address OL (except at C for some reason).

    the best OL tend to be kept by their teams and many of them are former mid-to-late round picks. I like Heckert’s philosophy in drafting mid-round OL, hopefully the guys he picked do better at OG (Pinkston w/ healthy) or we find someone in this year’s draft there.

  • mgbode

    ok, if you want to go to the 1st Baltimore game (and yes, that was a terrible throw on the last play – cannot go Quinn on it):

    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap1000000067094/Greg-Little-43-yard-reception

  • WFNY_DP

    I guess my argument would be this: what’s more easily correctable, long term? Mental mistakes like the one you cite, or the physical inability to throw a deep ball in the NFL?

  • MrCleaveland

    I’ll see your 43-yard non-scoring pass and raise you a 72-yard TD bomb.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5RbNgzrW-E

  • MrCleaveland

    As you well know, DP, a big arm in itself is not enough. Would you rather have Derek Anderson or Brian Sipe? Vinny Testaverde or the Ol’ Sidearmer?

    I don’t know if Weeden’s poor decision-making is permanent or just rookie inexperience, so I don’t know if it’s correctable. But smarts, like McCoy has, can overcome some physical shortcomings. And it’s not like McCoy can’t throw at all. He’s got some strength. He deserves a chance.

  • mgbode

    the fact that you had to resort to college highlights says everything

  • mgbode

    why is Colt “smarter” than Weeden? he might be. I honestly do not know nor do I know how anyone not in the film rooms could.

    i do know that many times last year the ball ended up going where noone was near. perhaps the WRs made the wrong read. maybe it was Colt. hard to say.

    i also know that he always seemed to hold onto that ball too long for a WR going into a break (the INT vs. Pitt stands out but that one isn’t fair as it was right after he was concussed but it happened often). Weeden does the same thing but his faster throws make up for it (sometimes).

    at this point, it looks like we have 2 QBs neither of which are great options. Weeden has the stronger arm. Colt is back to being somewhat of an unknown since he hasn’t had any chance this season and is younger.

    the good thing is that a new HC (and possibly new GM) means that if we bring both QBs back, then that HC will ultimately decide who is the better starting option without any preconceived notions about what to do there.

  • MrCleaveland

    Nah, I just don’t have time to find a Browns highlight. Trying to get my work done before vacation.

    I was at the Jets game a year ago when he connected on a long bomb just before halftime. Maybe I’ll send a clip of it to you later.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I always liked the strategy of using free agency to address both sides of the line. A year ago I’d have pursued Eric Winston for RT then used a draft pick on either Reiff or DeCastro at guard. You would have then had Pinkston, Lavau and Greco for the other guard spot. I feel like you know what your getting because whoever you sign will have played in the league and had tape to watch. It’s just a matter of how much you want to pay as opposed to taking a chance with a high or really any draft pick.

  • mgbode

    Winston has been terrible. We would still have a turnstile at RT and be in no better OL shape than 2011.

  • mgbode

    that Jets game was Colt’s best game of his career. stupid Stuckey.

  • porckchopexpress

    I don’t know how much I buy the “football miles” argument. Athletic ability generally has a use it or lose quality that peaks around 28-31 and starts declining afterwards. A big part of that is recovery period, both from workouts and injuries. In your 30’s knees ache a little longer, strained shoulder’s never get right, you just learn to manage the issue, its just nature. I think 8-10 years is wildly optimistic. Personally, I think 5-6 years of healthy quality play is realistic. I’d definntely bring him back next year, and if he gets better coaching and fixes his mistakes, I think he could give the Browns a 3 maybe 4 year window of QB play to legitimately compete. I just don’t think he’s going to get some extra long life into his late 30’s just because he didn’t spend his 20’s getting beat up.

  • Porckchopexpress

    Colts longest NFL pass went 56 yards in game 1 of last season against the Bengals, it didn’t go for a touchdown. Its not the long balls that concern me physically about Colt, its that I have zero confidence that he could stand in the pocket in the center of the field and throw across his body to a reciever breaking to the sideline 8 yards up field. Its about a 25 yard throw to get 8. I don’t know if Weeden can complete that throw either, but the difference is Colt probably doesnt even attempt it, Weeden attempts it but doesn’t see the safety breaking on it and it goes pick six. Either way I’m a basketball guy at heart and the adage “You can’t teach height” holds true for QB arm strength.
    I will say that if new coach comes in and decides to roll with these two next year, I sincerely hope he gives them an equal opportunity to win the job. I don’t think Weeden has done enough to go into the offseason not having to push himself hard because he’s guaranteed a starting job.

  • Jim

    this is not a 72yd TD bomb the ball was caught 22 yds from the LOS and ran 50 yds. This is only barely considered a deep pass (20yds past the LOS. So if this is all you got for Colt’s deep passing it is tellingly weak.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I was just giving an example of my philosophy and what may have been obviously I’d have signed a better OL, LoL.

  • mgbode

    friendly tip: when demonstrating a philosophy, do not show how it can fall apart so easily.

    it’s tough to find quality OTs in FA. you mostly end up with Shaffer, St. Clair, etc.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    No tip needed because under my philosophy the OL would have been addressed before last draft. You know free agency that thing Heckert doesn’t really bother to use? That in effect renders this whole discussion mute. Have a nice day!

  • mgbode

    still one rather large question to answer. who is our current RT in your scheme?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’d have to go back two years back to when they needed an upgrade at guard. Ya know kinda like they still do, well half of it perhaps.

  • mgbode

    that still doesn’t solve our RT problem (before we drafted Schwartz)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Believe me if I could go back in time and change things I would but first I’d change some much more important things personal to me.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Have a good holiday!

  • mgbode

    so, your strategy is to grab a bunch of OL in FA, but you won’t name any particular OL that you would have grabbed, specifically to fix the RT hole that we have had since ’99 (outside of when Ryan Tucker was healthy to man the spot).

  • mgbode

    you too. hope we get to see our team go 2-0 vs. Pitt

  • mgbode

    for reference 2012 FA tracker shows that the only OTs of note to switch teams were:

    Eric Winston (Hou to KC)
    Demetrus Bell (Buf to Phi)

    KC & Philly had 2 of the worst NFL OL’s this season and Winston and Bell were reasons for it.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/transactions/free-agents?&_1:col_1=3

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    No the problem is we are really talking three years ago and I have a pornographic not photographic memory and don’t remember all of the players. Besides the whole exercise is pointless since we are talking three years ago.

  • steve-o

    My first round draft priorities would be as follows:

    1) Elite pass rusher. Good luck getting one of those in FA.

    2) Teo is the real deal, and would be my next choice.

    3) If we do draft a CB2, G or S in the first round, it better be after a lopsided trade down (in our favor). Any of those positions could be improved upon through FA.

    4) I don’t think rookie WR is a need at all. TE would be a greater offensive need since Watson is getting old and may not be back, Alex Smith is really a FB, and the jury is still out on Cameron. This could only happen after a major trade down.

    5) My last choice would be to reach for a non-elite QB and hope to develop him. Unfortunately there is a good chance of this happening. If a new HC and GM are brought in they will be looking for their guy (unless they really like Weeden). Our chances of either signing or trading for a franchise QB are not good, so we’ll take a long hard look at them in this draft.

  • Jaker

    This is the best comment on this thread. Agree 100% on the first three points, especially the trade down part. If we don’t get the ELITE pass rusher or real deal Teo, a trade down to mid first round would be an excellent idea, because we can easily get a very good CB2 or OG from 17- mid 20s and pick up that second rounder, where I would like to see another Defensive stud ( a DE if we go CB first) or a big time play making TE, either Eiffert or Ertz. Then we can fill the holes at G and other spots throughout the rest of the draft. FA will also need to net us some depth, but I don’t see us getting a “difference maker” in free agency. The only way I see us drafting a OG or Geno in round 1 is if we trade down to the 20s and no stud defender is left

    To sum up: unless we are getting a straight up stud defensive all pro potential type player, I want to trade down, where we can fill a hole and pick up more picks