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Browns Browns Archive The Browns Outsider - Draft Primer
Written by Chris Hutchison

Chris Hutchison

farside_sinking_001I know what some of you are thinking:  The ruling for the injunction to stop the NFL lockout is a good thing because at least it propels the league forward and (in theory) allows the season to get rolling.  It doesn't matter who wins as long as the end result is players back at work and the NFL team business back in gear.


But let us not forget that wins for the Players is definitely not a win for the Fans.


There's no reason to press panic buttons and head for our makeshift bomb shelters.  Likely, a relatively familiar CBA will be reached and all this silliness will be forgotten.  But make no mistake what a perfect NFL world would look like if the Players had their say - it would look like Major League Baseball.  Or worse.


There would be no Salary Cap (and, consequently, no Salary Floor).  There would be no Franchise Tag.  Free Agents would have full control and would get paid insane amounts of money.  Contracts would be guaranteed, even if said contract turned out to be an unsheddable anchor around the neck of the team that offered it.  Teams would turn over with disgusting frequency, and the richest teams would have opportunities every season that the smaller market teams would not.  The Dallas Cowboys would be loaded (on paper) every season while the Cincinnati Bengals would become the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Less fortunate teams would be forced to draft better than everyone else just to compete, then trade away their most valuable commodities because they have no chance of keeping them long-term.


Oh, and high draft picks would still be more of a burden (contractually) to bad teams than a boon.  If they still had a draft, because some of the anti-trust language deems the draft itself illegal.  And if you don't think the Owners won't respond by cutting health care and the minimum salary, you don't know pettiness very well.  And that's just the tip.  The legal system will have succeeded in making the Players and Owners work together in an environment that both of them despise.


Yes, sports fans, imagine THAT NFL.


The Players were smart to take this thing the legal route, since the legal world - by the letter - probably favors them.  But having the Players win this thing and get what they want is inarguably not what is best for Professional Football.


Naturally, the Players don't give a damn about what the Fans want.  We mean nothing to them - they figure we'll show up no matter what.  They want to make as much money as they can while they're playing and basically control their entire situation.  Many of them have been spoiled rotten since they got their first pube and have a sense of entitlement that even Manhattan housewives can't comprehend, so they can't abide the normal owner-employee relationship.


This isn't an endorsement of the Owners.  They don't give a damn about what the Fans want either.  They're just as greedy and just as entitled and just as disgusting.  However, it just so happens that what is best for them is what is best for NFL: The Product, so we must hope for the lesser of two evils.


Regardless, the eventual resolution will still likely be not so different than what we had in the past, and a rookie wage scale will still likely be implemented (mainly because the Players aren't against it).


But don't be fooled into thinking that the ruling was a win for the Fans.  It very well may have flocked things up even worse.



Regarding the Draft 


All right, that's all the labor dispute analysis I can provide before achieving nausea.  I'd rather stick my pinky in an electric pencil sharpener while giving myself a Tobasco enema than dwell on lockout litigation.  Besides, the NFL Draft is almost here.  That hopefully will have a much more long-term effect on the Cleveland Browns than the ruling of some judge in Minnesota.


Assuming the Browns stay put at #6 (and that is always a likelihood), there are 8 players I feel would be a viable option for Tom Heckert to select.  In all honesty, all 8 hold a level of intrigue for me; none of them would make me lose my biscuits.  There aren't a lot of areas that the Browns couldn't stand upgrading, especially with the transition to the 4-3 Defense, and all of these players offer the POTENTIAL of being great.


Which, logically, also means that most of them have the power to bust.


In order of which one I'd like the most to least...


Marcell Dareus


Marcell-DareusI know, I know... there's a certain trepidation which accompanies taking an SEC Defensive Tackle in the Top 10.  It's known as Gerard Warren-itis, and nary a Browns fan can avoid wincing when hearing that guy's name (and the thought that that pick could've been LaDainian Tomlinson).


But Dareus is a different beast.  He doesn't have that "lazy" label, and he's been effective for a while at Alabama.  Ask Colt McCoy.


And then there's Dareus himself trumpeting that he would love to be a Brown.  Now, athletes say this all the time, especially when it means they'll be a higher pick (and thus richer).  But he's always been projected to go higher than us, so his proclamation is somewhat flattering (even if it is dung).


I believe the Browns' switch to the 4-3 makes D Line the position of greatest need, and when that goes hand-in-hand with the fact that Dareus might be the most talented and probably one of the safest picks that could be made up this high, it's magic, baby.


The sad part is that the 5 teams in front of Cleveland know this too, so there is little likelihood that Dareus makes it all the way back to #6.  But if he does... hoo boy, they'd better run up to that podium.


Patrick Peterson


Patrick-PetersonMany people purport PP to be the draft's most talented individual, and since he plays one of the 4 Value Positions (which are, according to Heckert, QB, CB, LT, and Pass Rusher), I don't see any way the Browns let this guy go by him if he's there, despite the fact that they picked a CB high last year too.


It's not like a team only needs one CB.  The Haden/Peterson bookends for the next several years is enticing, regardless of the sadness neglecting other positions of need might bring me.  Plus, Peterson is a helluva Return Guy.  Now, I know that we've already got one of those that's pretty good, but it might just be that Father Time is starting to take his toll on good Mr. Cribbs.


And if you believe Tom Heckert's analysis from his recent press conference, he loves the guy:


"He is a good football player. He is a rare guy just because of his size alone, size and speed. I don’t know when the last guy that came out, I know Nnamdi was a big guy but I don’t think he ran like Patrick did. He is a rare guy, a rare athlete and he is a very good football player."


Yep, Heckert just compared him favorably against one of the Top 3-4 CB's in the league.  That's pretty high praise.  If you believe GM's this time of year, which is dangerous.


In the end, I think the value is just too great for Heckert to pass on Peterson if he's there, and that's a much bigger possibility than Dareus being there.


A.J. Green


aj-greenAny time you have a chance to make your top 3 Receivers Georgia graduates (Green, Ben Watson, Mo Massaquoi), you gotta do that, right?


Green has a ton of POTENTIAL, more than Braylon Edwards ever had because Green has excellent hands (an attribute you'd think GM's would find vital in someone whose job it is to catch the ball).  He's also got good size, speed, and runs great routes.


Unfortunately, WR is one of those positions that can be BIG misses in the Top 10.  Some guys just don't make the transition, and missing at that position is like throwing the pick in the trash.  But if there were such a thing as a "can't miss" WR, Green is probably that.  And compared to some of the other Top 10 prospects, Green almost seems downright safe.


Besides, the Browns' WR corps is just plain Awful.  They can tell us as many times as they like that the Receivers are better than we think, that they haven't had a chance to show what they can do, blah blah blah.  They Suck. 


If you expect to give Colt a fair shot at showing that he can be The Man, then you really need to give him better weapons than what he has right now.  There're only 5-6 QB's in the league that could win with these Receiving weapons, and I'm pretty sure none of them are available right this sec.


Although Peyton Manning might be a Free Agent...


Von Miller


von-millerIf the Browns were still running a 3-4, he would be much higher on the list.  Miller came out of a 3-4 system at Texas A&M, and he was a monster at the pass rush.  Could he do the same as a 4-3 OLB?  Perhaps.  But a 4-3 OLB drops into coverage more often than the 3-4 variety, so you'd be somewhat negating what Von does best.


Besides, it is highly likely that Miller will be long gone by #6.  Buffalo uses a 3-4, as does Arizona.  Both of those teams also need a QB, but Von would fill a more immediate need for either one of them.  The Bills might be able to squeeze a little more out of Fitz, and the Cards are missing Karlos Dansby something fierce.


Still, when you're a playmaker, you're a playmaker.  There's no law that says Miller wouldn't be effective in a 4-3, and it's not like the Cleveland LB's are so damn good we should ignore him.  Maybe you bring Miller up to the line of scrimmage more often, maybe you cover his man with a Safety, I don't know.  I do know that Pass Rushing is one of Heckert's Value Positions, and Von Miller is damn good at doing that.


Why not move him to 4-3 DE, you ask?  In his presser, Tom Heckert said about the DE's he's looking for:


"In Philly... Those guys were 250 tops. In Philly 250 was tops. We had Trent Cole and Jaqua Parker and those guys.”


“In college there are a bunch of guys that’s what they are, there are a bunch of defensive ends that are 250 lbs.”


So it appears that Heckert is looking for light, quick DE's that will get upfield in a hurry and put a hurtin' on the QB.  Well, Miller is 6'3, 246, ain't he?  But then Heckert went on to say:


"I think [Von Miller]'s probably going to be a linebacker, whether it’s a 3-4 or 4-3. He’s not going to be a defensive end, I don’t think."


Smokescreen or truth?  You decide.


Robert Quinn


robert-quinnI'm really back and forth on this guy.  He is the definition of 4-3 DE Pass Rusher.  He's 6'4, 265, so he'll be marginal as Run defender, but that's not why they'd draft him.  He took last year off due to a NCAA suspension for "taking stuff" (more on this later), but he had 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 2009.  He's very quick off the ball, but somewhat unpolished as a complete Pass Rusher - whether or not he could "learn" is the eternal question.


265 is obviously more than 250, but it's close enough that it might not be a big deal to Heckert.  But one thing that Heckert said clicked with something Peter King said, and I am wary.  Heckert on if missing the 2010 season hurts Quinn:


"You just have one less year to look at for him. You just have to use your judgment. Actually, it’s more of a detriment to the player than it is the scouting organization because you only get to see him. So if he had three great games and three bad games, he can’t change that from his one year."


"You take everything into consideration. Who they played and who they had sacks against, who they had a bunch of catches against. You try to watch the tape versus their best competition as much as possible."


This made me think of a recent Monday Morning QB article where Peter King pointed out:


"Robert Quinn, the highly regarded defensive end from North Carolina, is proving to be a tough study for many teams. He hasn't played football in 16 months, having been suspended for taking improper benefits at North Carolina and being banned for the entire 2010 season. He had a benign brain tumor in high school. Those two elements would make it tough enough. Add this one: He fattened up his sack totals -- 11 in 13 games -- against some weak sisters.


Quinn's game-by-game sack results:


Sacks   Foe


3 (twice) Duke (5-7), Virginia (3-9).


2 East Carolina (9-5, Conference USA).


1 Citadel (4-7 Div. I-AA), Georgia Southern (5-6 Div. I-AA), Boston College (8-5).


0 Connecticut (8-5), Georgia Tech (11-3), Florida State (7-6), Virginia Tech (10-3), Miami (Fla.) (9-4), North Carolina State (5-7), Pittsburgh (10-3).


Of his 11 sacks, six came in two games against ACC doormats, two more against NCAA Football Championship Subdivision teams with losing records, and three against Bowl Subdivision winning teams.


If you pick Quinn -- and Cleveland, at number six, may do so -- he'll be a perfect metaphor for the 2011 draft: High picks in the first round almost all come with a risk."


I agree, Peter.  Doesn't mean that Quinn's POTENTIAL isn't enticing, though.


Nick Fairley


nick-fairleyNow, Mr. Fairley is where the Gerard Warren-itis should start kicking in.


Fairley also played in the SEC, was somewhat of a one-year wonder, and is reputed to be "lazy" and "take plays off".  He obviously has a ton of talent and POTENTIAL, but if he doesn't have the drive for greatness, the NFL will eat him alive.


When Heckert was asked if Fairley was a one-year wonder, he replied:


"He is one-year wonder from a sack stand point. He played. I think it's a great thing to have 11.5 sacks as a defensive tackle. That's impressive. There is probably no other defensive tackle that is close to that in the draft so, you can't say he is a one-year wonder. He had a really good year but you can't say that he didn't have a good year as a sophomore. I think that's blown out of proportion too."


He was also asked why it was that everybody perceived Quinn to be as highly rated as Fairley despite the year layoff, and he said:


"I wouldn't say everybody's perception."


Is that props to Fairley or a semi-slam to Quinn (or just double-talk)?


I don't know.  I do know that if Nick Fairley had had a 2009 equal to 2010, he would be the first pick overall in the draft.  11 1/2 sacks for a DT is crazy, and it just so happens the Browns really need some DT's.  And Fairley will probably be there, making him a late and popular dark horse pick at #6.


Cam Newton


cam-newtonRarely do you see a player the subject of as much scrutiny as this gentleman has gone through since the start of the college football season.  Some of it seems that some people just don't like Newton on a personal level - charges of "fake smiles" and "not giving 100%" have abounded.  Personally, I don't see Cam as the 2nd coming of Braylon Edwards - a supremely talented player that is so self-absorbed that he doesn't even come close to meeting his potential.  No, Newton's performance against Alabama forever sealed that for me.  Cam played big in all the big games.  He's a competitor.  His smile might be fake sometimes, but who gives a shit?  You're not drafting Cam Newton to teach Sunday School, you're drafting him to win.  And that's all he's ever done wherever he's gone.


Tim Tebow last year garnered a lot of controversy, and Newton is in the same boat.  Even more so, since Cam isn't quite the choirboy that Timmy was.  There's the Florida laptop deal, and the daddy-taking-money rumor.  I don't find college athletes that "take" things a big red flag.  These guys are young, cocky, and (probably) spoiled - if people offer them stuff, they figure they can get away with it because they are invincible (and maybe a bit dumb/naive).  In my opinion, this is quite a different indiscretion than drugs and/or violence.


So if you throw out attitude and moral arguments against Newton, you're left with his physical ability, and that's where Cam does well.  He's big.  He's mobile.  He's got a good arm, he's pretty accurate, he throws a nice ball.  Some have compared him to JaMarcus Russell, but I don't see that at all.  I think his game is most similar to a Vince Young or a slightly more mobile Ben Roethlisberger.  POS struggled when he first came into the league, but he had a good supporting cast and eventually evolved into an elite QB.  Young showed his potential early, but might be done in by his emotional issues and his apparent limited ability to dissect an NFL Defense.


Cam Newton could be either one.


Can he read NFL Defenses?  Will he be able to handle an NFL playbook?  Will he be able to play under center?  Will he be able to handle the inevitable blows to his ego when he fails?


I don't know, but those are questions for every single QB in this (and most) drafts.  What I do know is that he has more POTENTIAL than any other QB in this (and most) drafts.  So I'd consider him for that reason alone.


Now, I know what you're saying - we already have a QB.  Well, I don't know that, and neither do you.  Colt McCoy did look very good at times during the 2010 season, but he also looked terrible at the end of it.  This could've been because of his foot injury.  Maybe it was his arm-strength limitations, or the fact that the running game deserted him.  I like Colt, and I truly do hope that he turns out to be everything we want him to be.  But if Cam Newton's ceiling is a 10, Colt's is about a 7.  I think that's indisputable.


It could very well be that Colt reaches a volume of 7 while Cam writhes around down at a 4.  But if Tom Heckert, Mike Holmgren, and Paddy O'Shurmur feel that Newton is a significant upgrade at the most important position on the field and can't be passed up, I won't complain at all.


Julio Jones


julio_jonesIf Green is option 1 at WR, then Jones is option 1c.  Which means he's very close to, but perceptibly below, his counterpart.


Jones was very productive in the SEC as well, and he put on a helluva show at the Combine, running a sub 4.4 forty and generally looking fabulous.  Many call him the superior option in a West Coast Offense because of his toughness and his run-after-the-catch ability.


There's not a lot of buzz out there around the Browns taking Jones if Green is gone, but that might be just the way they like it.


That's it.  Yes, I know that the list does not contain formerly-touted and late-comers like Da'Quan Bowers, JJ Watt, Ryan Kerrigan, and Muhammad Wilkerson.  I did that because I don't honestly believe that any of those guys have a chance of being drafted at #6 overall (no matter how much of a hard-on you might have for them).


Eight men.  Eight game changers, eight playmakers.  Eight guys with tons of POTENTIAL.  Eight guys that could break our hearts.


This, my friends, is why Mr. Heckert is getting the big bucks - to not be wrong on a decision so big.



Regarding A Mock Draft


Yeah, I know these things are utterly meaningless, but they're fun to look at.


Obviously, here's my guess as to the Top 6 of this year's NFL draft.  I'm not going beyond that because beyond that I don't really give a rat's ass.  Yes, there might be a chance that the Browns might have an opportunity to trade down with a team like Washington if one of the two high-rent QB's (Newton/Gabbert) are still there at 6, but the odds are heavily in favor of that not happening.  If you've read my stuff in the past, you know I detest it when someone just spouts off the opinion "The Browns should trade down."  Trading down is not an option on a ballot.  You can't just check it and it magically happens.  You have to find a trade partner that is offering appropriate compensation, and that's not as easy as some think it is.


1. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn.


With the first pick of the... fine, you know the drill.


The Jimmy Clausen Experiment is apparently over after only part of one season (damn, that was quick!).  Many GM's feel that there are only a few positions worthy of a #1 overall pick, and DT (Marcell Dareus) isn't one of them.  Some feel that Gabbert might be the safer pick, but Carolina is reportedly intrigued by Newton, and Cam's ceiling is higher.  Is this the ideal place for Newton to go, a struggling franchise with no veteran QB leadership to learn from?  Hells no.  But there he goes regardless.


2. Denver Broncos - Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama.


Like the Browns, the Horsies are going from a 3-4 to a 4-3, so, like the Browns, they have an extreme dearth of 4-3 capable DT's.  Not only is Dareus the best of the bunch, he's probably the safest pick you'll get up this high.


3. Buffalo Bills - Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M.


Many have Blaine Gabbert, but I think that the Bills figure they can squeak another year or two out of Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Seeing as they're a 3-4 team and Miller is penciled in as a 3-4 NFL beast, they go for more impact on the Defensive side of the ball.


4. Cincinnati Bengals - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri.


Carson Palmer has sworn that he would rather eat roadkill then suit up for the Bungles again, so Cincy needs to address the QB position, thus taking a guy that - in my opinion - has "mediocre" written all over him.  Thus leaving a high quality player to drop towards us and making me laugh at them for a full 2 minute span.


5. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU.


Everyone in Cleveland starts muttering "Don't do it, don't do it..." as the Cardinals go on the clock, but, like the year before (KC taking Eric Berry), the prayers are all for naught.  The Cards wanted a QB, but there's just no one good enough to take this high (Gabbert isn't either, but that's beside the point).  So they take the best player on the board and they feel OK about it.


6. Cleveland Browns - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia.


This could very easily be Robert Quinn or Nick Fairley, but I get the feeling that Heckert isn't sold on Quinn and that when he looks at which player - Fairley or Green - makes more impact, his answer is Green.  DE, DT, or WR... it's not like the Browns aren't in dire need.  But with a deep DL class, Cleveland gets the playmaking WR in the 1st Round and nabs Defensive Line at the top of the 2nd.


And now you've got no excuses, Mr. McCoy.



Regarding the Second Round


I have no idea who will be available, who will drop, and who will be gone that everyone assumed would be there.  So speculating on what player the Browns might select in the 2nd Round at this point is tantamount to speculating on the weather a year from today.


Fine, fine, I'll do it.  Rainy.  There, ya happy?



Regarding the Tofu Slushy


Really, it would be best if I didn't share this with you, but I have no idea if any of you out there are like myself, someone who enjoys food, thinks they can cook if they just tried, and is prone to culinary experimentation. 


This is not a new phenomenon - it started in high school when my friend Brady and I used to make what we called "conglumptions" (RIP Brady - at least you'll never have to try pierogies with caramel sauce ever again).  It continued into college (albeit somewhat out of financial necessity), where pasta with black eyed peas/Tobasco sauce (surprisingly good), pasta with mayonnaise sauce (not so good), and the ol' salt sandwich were invented. 


Anyway, in an effort to lose some weight, I have been purchasing a lot of tofu.  I don't really like it, but nor do I hate it.  Usually I just douse it with hot sauce and pepper and down it.  But, on this day, I decided (unfortunately) to make a Tofu Slushy. 


The last time I was down in Columbus, my mother described a Tofu Milkshake to me and told me how very good it was (I have my doubts; my mother is also a "creative" chef who makes the occasional disaster).  So I figured What The Hell - let's make some kind of invention using this big hunk of tofu I have hanging out in the fridge.


Now the Tofu Milkshake requires fruit and vanilla and ice cubes, but I didn't have any fresh fruit, and I'm not a big fan of sweets anyway.  So I decided to take my conglumption another route - the equivalent of a Bloody Mary with a big freakin' hunk of tofu added for "zest".


So I pulled out the blender and dumped the tofu chunk in, then added a copious amount of hot sauce, some V8, a couple olives, some horseradish, a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce, even a stalk of celery.  Oh, and some vodka.  Of course.


Well, I tried to blend it, but there apparently wasn't enough liquid in there, so all the hunk of tofu did was spin.  Already sensing the impending failure of this venture, I added more vodka.  If my new-found power-shake wasn't going to taste good, at least it was gonna mess ya up.


Now it blended all right.  Sadly.  It became the color and texture of something that only a baby diaper can love.


Just because it didn't look all that appetizing doesn't mean anything.  Saag Paneer isn't all that beautiful to the eyes, but it sure is beautiful to the tongue.  So I poured a little of my Tofu Slushy into a glass and kicked 'er back.


Immediately, my tongue protested, begging for me to "reverse the polarity".  My gag reflex tried a barely unsuccessful coup-d'etat.  My stomach sent me a text that read only "F*** You!"


SrirachaSo it was bad.  There's always an easy fix to that.  More hot sauce.


I whipped out my trusty bottle of Tuong Ot Sriracha (with the rooster on the front) and doused the contents of the blender with a steady stream, as if putting out a fire of foulness with a chile sauce hose.  No dice.  The second tasting was just barely more palatable; a lumpy concoction of something that was somehow both tasteless and putrid at the same time.  It was unfixable.


But since I have a pet peeve about wasting food (which is probably why I need to lose weight in the first place), I said What The Hell and downed the whole blender-full in one go, belligerently ignoring the further protests of Tongue, Gullet, and Stomach.


The Tofu Slushy - tastes like Hell, but gives you a nice buzz.



Person I Like Aaron Goldhammer More Than


Paul Walker: The Actor


Now, I'd like to clarify this right off the bat - I don't dislike Paul Walker: The Person.  I don't know Paul Walker: The Person.  One of my friends worked on pretty much all the Fast/Furious Films, and he informed me that Mr. Walker is a helluva good guy.  No, this slander is against Paul Walker: The Actor.


If you have ever watched any of the Fast/Furious Films, Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are the main characters, and they go around doing cool things in fast cars with hot women.  The dialogue and the plot are cursory - you're supposed to be paying attention to the visual extravaganza on the screen (and hopefully drooling).  Really, the actors could be speaking Farsi and the filmmakers would hope you wouldn't notice.


But they are speaking English, and anytime Paul Walker: The Actor speaks one of those English lines, it has all the emotional range and delivery brilliance of desk lamp.  And not one of those cute Pixar lamps either.


No, watching him act is like watching my old high school movies that I shot with a camcorder in the back yard and had friends read lines from a sheet of paper just off camera.  "Yeah," says one of the supposed tough-guy characters in horrible monotone, his eyes flicking to the side so he can see what the next line is.  "You better run."


Paul Walker: The Actor is painful to watch.  If I see a movie has Paul Walker: The Actor in it, I do not see that movie.  People will ask me "Why oh why Chris do you refuse to see that movie?" And I just answer "Paul Walker: The Actor".


"Oh, he's not that bad."


Oh yes he freakin' is.


Some then argue to me that the ladies find him attractive, an argument that does nothing for me since I do not choose to watch movies because one of my friend's wives thinks he's hot.  In fact, with most movies, if my friend's wives like it at all I make a point of not seeing it.  But that's a story for another day.


Paul Walker: The Actor is the Tofu Slushy of performance arts - do not consume except under extreme duress.



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