Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What are the Browns' Draft Options?

The Browns have the fourth overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft and since the first three picks are practically already signed, all eyes are on Cleveland. This is the fourth draft in a row the Browns are picking in the top seven, and tenth time this high in the 14 drafts since their return.  What have they done with all these high picks? Only one All-Pro and 13 busts. Outside of Joe Thomas, only three drafted Browns have made one Pro Bowl and just once each. That is three combined pro bowl seasons from 106 of 107 draft selections.

With this history of futility, who are the Browns going to erroneously pick this year? This website compiles all the mock drafts performed across the internet and of the 212 most recent ones, 76% choose Trent Richardson, 10% Justin Blackmon, and 8% for Ryan Tannehill. Here are the breakdowns for each choice:

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama:

Pros: The Crimson Tide runner is a bruising back that has pass catching and protection skills as well. He is considered the most complete back since Adrian Peterson five years ago. Richardson will energize an offense that faces three AFC North teams which each made the playoffs with top 7 defenses specializing on stopping the run.

Cons:  Running backs have a very short shelf life and with the increasing use of committee backfields, #4 overall is high for a back. You can easily get a good running back later in the draft, since the difference between the fifth best back and 25th best is not as great as other positions drafted this high.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State:

Pros: The two-time Biletnikoff Award winner would be a much needed explosive target for Colt McCoy. The Browns lead the league in drops last year and pairing him with Greg Little would open up the offense.

Cons: Considering all the holes on the Browns roster, drafting a player who only touches the ball a half dozen times a game at fourth overall will not be a great value.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M:

Pros: The Aggie quarterback shot up the draft board after his pro day and could be the franchise passer the Browns need to compete with Flacco, Dalton, and Big Ben.

Cons: The pick would be a desperate move for a franchise grasping for a QB after Luck and Griffin are taken. Tannehill has only played 19 games at quarterback after playing WR for the Aggies.

Trade down:

Pros: The Browns need players, not a player. They lost their top running back and right tackle to free agency and lack a franchise QB and #1 caliber WR on the 29th ranked offense. Their OLB will be suspended for bounty hunting and need improvement at DE, FS, and #2 CB. They can pass on Blackmon and get WR Floyd at #15, avoid Richardson and get RB Martin at #37, or ignore project Tannehill and get QB Weeden at #44.  They could even trade down to bolster the right side of the line with G David DeCastro.

Cons: Cleveland already has 13 picks this year and what is the point of drafting multiple later busts instead of one at #4. They will not be able to fix everything this year, and can pair Blackmon or Richardson with QB Matt Barkley in next year’s draft.

I believe that the Browns should trade down since they need all the help they can get and only RG3 and Luck are difference makers in this draft.

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