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
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.
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.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.