April 24, 2014

Browns NFL Draft Needs: Guard or Defensive Playmaker?

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)

  • C-Bus Kevin

    This is going to get me lit up, to be sure, but I actually really like the idea of drafting Geno Smith so long as the new coach of the Browns plays to his strengths. From what I’ve heard, the guy is pretty smart, and we’ve already seen the physical tools he has.

    He is the quarterback of the future…accurate with a strong arm (71% completion; over 8 ypa the past two season) and mobile when he needs to be. Plus, he protects the football having thrown just 21 interceptions in 1,437 attempts.

    I understand the desire to see Weeden develop, but you just can’t turn the clock back on him. He’s shown enough to be a serviceable backup elsewhere. Trade him for whatever you can get and move on.

    The organization is starting fresh with a new owner, GM and coach. Let’s start fresh with a new franchise QB.

    All that said…it’s not like I would be heartbroken to see them keep Weeden for at least another year, but the pressure for him to make a jump next season will be HUGE, because he’s already over the hill in NFL years.

  • MrCleaveland

    WHY DO YOU HATE COLT McCOY??????

  • BROSEPH

    13253 Passing yards, 71% completion rate. 45 interceptions in 1645 attempts. Over 1500 rushing yards. 132 Total TDs.

    Conference: Big 12

    Name: Colt McCoy

  • Jaker

    I’m not against this idea, as long as we do what you said and play to his strengths. I also like the idea of trading downandpicking up a round 2 pick, but obviously it’s premature for that talk. I say if Teo is still available you take him, if he’s gone and the new coach wants a new QB, we go Smith, if he’s gone, go for ultimate value, ala trade down.

    Smith had a very up and down year, but I will pay very close attention to him when they play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. A game in outdoor, windy Yankee Stadium will be a nice glimpse of how he will play in Cleveland on the lake.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This is an easy question for me in fact I all but answered it yesterday – a playmaking defensive player namely at LB. This team needs as many playmakers as it can find on both sides of the ball. A solid OL is great but not now besides I feel like they can use free agency to address the OL.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I can’t watch Colt wind up to make deep throws like an Olympian throwing a javelin anymore. I just can’t.

    Geno is not Colt McCoy.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Ha! Is it unique to Browns fans to latch on to players and want them to succeed so badly rather than replace them with better talent? It sure feels like it is.

  • Jaker

    Assuming we are drafting 7-10, I’d like Moore, Te’o, Milliner, Werner, or Geno Smith. Ideally we would get a CB in free agency and focus on the front 7, but maybe we go elsewhere in FA, thus putting that much more of an importance on Corner. I’m always a fan of trading down, but I feel as though if we trade down, none of these guys will be available. If all of these guys are gone, then I’m in full trade down mode.

    Honestly right now I’m all about “Best Defensive Player Available” other than DT. Hopefully we will have less holes after FA so this becomes an easier problem to solve.

  • MrCleaveland

    If McCoy had been the starter all year, the Browns would probably be 8-6 and still in the running.

    Weeden has lost a lot of games for us. Has he won any?

  • BenRM

    And you know we’d be 8-6….how? I’m falling out of love with Weeden, so this isn’t a defense of him. But we saw Colt play in enough games to know what he is: a very mediocre-to-subpar quarterback.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    How can I possibly respond to this? Colt would have gone 8-6? And how do you know this?

    Weeden has won 5 games as he has been the starter for all 5 wins. He didn’t win them all on his own and he didn’t lose all the losses on his own. It’s a team sport.

    But since we’re going down this road…

    If Colt had been named the starter, he would have been benched/injured 4 games in and we’d still be watching Weeden start at this point in the season.

  • paulbip

    With a little luck, the Browns will be picking in the top 5 again. I would trade down a few spots and pick up Warmack. Both starting guards now are practice squad types.

  • MrCleaveland

    Obviously I don’t “know” the Browns would be 8-6, but I do know that McCoy wouldn’t have made all the dumb plays that Weeden has, especially in crunch time. Colt’s got “it,” Weedie doesn’t.

    It’s a shame there wasn’t any real competition for the job. They just handed it to Weeden. But that’s what you have to do when you draft a guy that old.

  • BenRM

    FIRST ROUND FULLBACK! I miss you, Larry Vickers!

  • EdgewaterJoe

    Usually I go with the best-player-from-the-SEC theory, but Manti Te’o is really intriguing. Seems like a Brian Urlacher-type: doesn’t excel with physical gifts but is always wherever the ball is. And his teammates love him. Put him and Haden together, use the $$$ for CB and a decent veteran WR (or roll the dice if he’s there in the 3rd/4th round on Tyrann Matthieu), and get a coach that knows how to maximize a QB’s skill set (which we now know Shurmur is not) …

    As for not competing, both PIT and BAL are on the downslide age wise, so I don’t think it’s delusional at all to think the Browns can make moves and contend for the division. (Presuming, of course, Mike Lombardi is nowhere to be found around Berea) …

  • BenRM

    As much as I’d HATE drafting ANOTHER quarterback, I could be talked into Geno Smith.

    Also, the name Geno is Super Mario RPG awesome. So there’s that.

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    Yes, Colt is better

  • Henry Brown

    Is this satire?

  • Henry Brown

    Yeah how stupid is it to want the roster that just beat the Steelers a few weeks ago? Crazy talk. Before you mention Batch, that same team then beat the Ravens. Their QB despises his OC and basically says he’s an idiot every chance he gets. Their RBs can’t hold onto a football to save their lives and looked pretty soft against the Browns defense. Their star WR sucks and is probably gone after the year. Past playoffs are fine but I think the question was which team do you want now?

  • saggy

    OLB.

  • saggy

    i can’t agree with that. we saw Colt McCoy play in enough games with TERRIBLE, barely NFL-caliber, skill players at his disposal. I wouldn’t mind seeing what he can do because we really don’t know.

    but we do know this: He beat the Patriots and defending champion Saints in back-to-back weeks, so he has to have SOME talent. sad that we’ll never know. But i can’t give up on Weeden this soon. I think he needs another year.

  • thepaledragon

    Eh, Smith ran basically the same offense that Weeden did. Not sure he’s a HUGE upgrade. Certainly not worth spending a first rounder on for the second straight year.

  • thepaledragon

    I could see us drafting Womack, but that would give us four starting O linemen taken in the first two rounds, including THREE first rounders. That’s a huge investment for players not at a skill position.

    I think we need to go defense in the first round. Corner, safety, OLB in that order. And I’d stay away from Miliner because Alabama is beginning to get a reputation of producing “system DBs”. Saban coaches and schemes his backs so well but none have been as effective in the pros.

  • markn95

    Jordan–great breakdown on the DE’s, especially Moore and Jones. Different perspective than every other draft site out there, thanks.

    I’m not sure Warmack makes sense in the top 10. We already have 2 first rounders at LT and C, plus a 2nd rounder at RT. The new rookie salary cap makes it a little easier to load up at one position early in the draft but you still have to pay all of them once they reach a certain age or experience level. We’d (eventually) be sinking a lot of money into our O-line. Plus, I’m not so sure that we need an elite guard so much as we need a set of competent guards. Those can be obtained in FA or the later rounds.

    I also think a pass rusher takes precedence over a corner. If we can get serious heat on the other team’s QB, I can live with Joe Haden at CB1 and a free agent/later round CB at CB2. Decent CB’s can be found in FA–e.g., Jonathon Joseph, Antonio Cromartie, Carlos Rogers, etc.

    On the other hand, DE’s and OLB’s are hard to scout. How you tell a JPP from an Aaron Maybin or a Von Miller from a Derrick Morgan is beyond me…but hopefully not our next GM.

  • mgbode

    There is little value in taking a guard in the first let alone the top half of the first. Just say no

  • mgbode

    Milliner and moore are my guys

  • BuckeyeDawg

    You can pick up a solid OG in the 3rd round. 1st rounder needs to be either a CB or a LB. If Te’o is there, take him and don’t look back.

  • Evan

    and mark sanchez made it to two afc championships saw how that is working out for new york righ now

  • Big Z

    Pass that this way, bro!

  • Harv 21

    I miss him more.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Does it help that he’s 7 or 8 years younger?

  • terminaltower

    why are we talking about cap money? They haven’t spent to the limit the last 2-3 years, and I believe they had $20 million this year that they didn’t use.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    OG = Original Gangster. And yes I agree. One could be had in the 3rd round.

  • mgbode

    definitely agree. 1st round picks need to be difference makers. OG’s (even the best) are not difference makers. They are important, yes, but we need CB, DE, LB in the 1st (would say FS but none are worthy that I have seen there)

  • JacobWFNY

    markn95 – Great feedback. Really appreciated your response and I think yours really stood out. Hope you stick around for more hopeful future collaborations between Jordan and I — he’s a great friend.

  • WFNY_DP

    Devil’s Advocate: Second Bengals game, deep TD throw to Gordon on a windy day. Riddle me this: is there ANY way McCoy makes that throw?

  • WFNY_DP

    I’m actually OK with investing in the O-line. What good is having a stud QB or RB if your line sucks?

  • MrCleaveland

    Maybe not.

    First Ravens game. 4th down. Do or die. Weeden goes all Testaverde and sails the pass way over Little’s head and out of the end zone. Riddle me this: is there ANY way McCoy makes such a dumb throw?

  • Dee P

    I agree with your points on the OL, however I could not disagree more about the point you made about the secondary vs. a pass rusher.

    1. Our DL is very good already. The arguments you made about the OL also applies to our DL. We have spent 1st and 2nd round picks on it (and a 3rd round pick last year that was surprising), and have already sunk free agent cash into it as well. The depth is already there – these guys are the best unit of our defense.

    2. The secondary has proven to be the worst unit on our defense. Our record when Joe Haden plays (5-4 with, 0-5 without, I believe) is proof of how important a strong secondary is in today’s pass heavy NFL. Having just 1 strong CB is not good enough anymore. You need two stud CBs to hang these days. Our DL is fine, they simply need one more second of coverage to get to the QB and our sack numbers double and 2 CBs will do that.

    3. Keep in mind – all 3 examples of free agent CBs you named – Joseph, Cromartie, and Rogers were all 1st round draft picks. That’s even more evidence that you need to find quality CBs in the first round. It has become an elite defensive position where you need elite talent that you can only find in round 1 95% of the time. Also remember, our best CB – Haden was also a 1st round pick. The game has changed and 2 elite CBs take our defense from good to elite. That needs to be the focus of our scouting and selection in the first round in 2013.

  • Dee P

    Riddle answer: Deck the Hells to the No.

  • BenRM

    No chance at all.

  • Dee P

    I’ll give him the Pats game, but he did not “beat” the Saints. Special teams trickery, and terrible Brees interceptions to Fujita and Bowens beat the Saints.

    The best play McCoy had in that game was as a receiver.

  • BenRM

    Colt may be able to be an acceptable middling QB that you can win games with when he is at the helm. However, you simply cannot debate that he does not have the type of arm strength you need in the NFL.

    I don’t mean mega-rocket-laser-Derek-Anderson type arm, either. But Colt doesn’t even have any zip on a 5 yard out route. They hang up in the air for what feels like forever (even though it’s likely just an extra second or half-second). He certainly cannot throw an effective deep ball with any sort of regularity.

  • mgbode

    investing is fine, but you’ll still get the 2nd tier OGs in round3 whereas you are getting the 3rd/4th tier CBs/DEs/LBers (unless you just want a small speed LBer, those are 3rd round guys too)

  • Dee P

    I will say that RGIII’s success has taken Geno from “no way he makes it in NFL” to “I think he would be a great fit for my team.”

  • Dee P

    AMEN!

    Give me Milliner and I give you a top-5 defense over the next 5 years.

    And seriously….how much fun would that be?

    Imagine Browns games late December early Januray…

    at home no less….cold, flurries, windy, wet field

    and our opponents offensive players covered in mud and turf as they sit dejected on the sidelines from not being able to do squat against our D.

    Gives me chills.

  • Dee P

    Yep. 100% agree. Let’s go all defense first 3 picks for sure….CB (1), LB (3), DB (4).

  • Fojimu

    Te’o – Isn’t that much of an athelete to play OLB. ILB’s shouldn’t be picked top 10 anyways.

    Jarvis Jones – Has spinal stenosis and there’s a great chance he won’t be in the league in 5 years. So many talented players have had this and haven’t been able to last in the NFL.

    Geno Smith – Already have Weeden. I don’t know about you guys, but Weeden is a rookie and rookies make dumb mistakes. Give him a chance.

  • Dee P

    I miss Vickers’ toughness…..but how we quickly forget how bad his hands were too. Granted, nothing compares to Owen….but Vickers had his share of crucial, frustrating drops too.

    But yeah. I’d take him back in a heart beat.

  • Dee P

    I keep telling myself this with Weeden. It’s frustrating….but I want/need him to succeed badly. I have stuck my neck out on this site way too many times for him.